RESOURCES: Catch a Buzz

Science  02 Aug 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5582, pp. 743
DOI: 10.1126/science.297.5582.743a

Ever heard the whine of a lovelorn medfly or listened to panicky fire ants? At the Web site Bug Bytes, you can eavesdrop on more than 20 species of insects and invertebrates, thanks to digital sound files gathered by entomologist Richard Mankin of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Gainesville, Florida. Wiretapping bugs isn't just for fun. Knowing the characteristic sounds of pests and innocuous species might make it easier to uncover hidden infestations (Science, 14 September 2001, p. 1987).

The more than 40 recordings tune in the quotidian, rarely heard sounds of the tiny creatures eating, hunting, cowering, and courting. Amplified many times, they make quite a racket. The rasping of a frightened dung beetle resembles a burst of radio static, for instance. Minute mikes and other sound-sensitive gear can also pick up background din, and the site explains how to distinguish wind and passing trucks from bug sounds.

cmave.usda.ufl.edu/∼rmankin/soundlibrary.html

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