The sound of mosquitoes mating leads to quieter drones

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Researchers at John Hopkins University have discovered the aerodynamics of mosquito wings could have implications for building quieter drones.

Published in Bioinspiration and Biomimetics, the team of researchers highlighted their findings devised at Johns Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering. The team includes Rajat Mittal, a mechanical engineering professor, and Jung-Hee Seo, an associate research professor.

“The same wings that are producing sound are also essential for them to fly,” said Mittal, an expert in computational fluid dynamics. “They somehow have to do both at the same time. And they’re effective at it. That’s why we have so much malaria and other mosquito borne diseases.”

His team’s research shows that “everything about mosquitoes seems perfectly adapted for accomplishing this sound-based communication.”

“Thus,” the paper states, “understanding the strategies and adaptations employed by insects such as mosquitoes to control their aeroacoustic noise could eventually provide insights into the development of quiet drones and other bioinspired micro-aerial vehicles.”

These findings can not only provide great insight into the development of quieter drones, the researcher is likely to inform research into how the sound can interrupt the mating rituals of mosquitoes. These findings could result in a non-toxic method of disrupt breeding and diminish mosquito populations.

“We continue to pursue that side of the research,” he said. “At the right frequency the mosquitoes have a hard time flying and can’t complete their mating ritual.”

The male mosquito creates a high frequency buzzing sound to connect with the low frequency hum of the female. The research team found that the mosquito must flap its long wings at a high frequency while also rotating them rapidly at the end of each stroke.

Mosquitoes have adapted their physiology to solve the complex multifactorial problem of trying to fly and flirt at the same time. “The wing tones as well as the aerodynamic forces for flight are highly directional and mosquitoes need to simultaneously control both for the successful completion of a mate-chase,” the paper reports.


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