78: Rock and Roll Mosquitoes
Turn up the Skrillex to ward off some pesky bloodsucking insects. And possibly your neighbors.
Photo Credit: Michael Nusbaum, www.mikenusbaum.com
Skrillex is not EDM according to my husband. I argue that he is credited as an EDM artist by The Internet, but acknowledge it may not be his main genre.
Welcome to Brain Junk. I’m Trace Kerr and I’m Amy Barton and this is a Brain Storm.
AB: I would like to talk about mosquitoes today and specifically the article title. So great. It’s a Smithsonian again.
TK:I love the Smithsonian. They’re such a good resource.
AB: And they did an article about how Skrillex may help ward off mosquito bites. Skrillex so Skrillex is not a cleaning product. It is a musical–(interrupted)
TK: What they…
AB: Yep, I know. Doesn’t it sound like like I’m going to get my Skrillex and really go clean the oven out.
TK Yeah. It sounds like something that would come in a wipe, you know, maybe or with Abrasive, you could get it with extra pumice.
AB: Oh yeah. Skrillex is EDM, which I had to Google. It’s electronic dance music and I’m not, I should’ve looked up how they decided that this might be a subject they wanted to test. The scientists who looked into this wanted to know the effect of different kinds of music on mosquitoes and specifically this Skrillex the dance music. So that’s really low base. Lots of high kind of, you know, it’s, it’s techno kind of, it’s not techno, but you know, for those as my age, techno would be the closest analogous thing. So the Scrillex has a song called Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites and it is all over the place, it’s not super chill and mellow, lots of low, lots of high. And so scientists did an experiment where they put speaker in a cage and put mosquitoes in this cage, no food for the mosquitoes for a long time. They put one male and lots of ladies in the cage. Oh, and a restraint hamster. So this bummer for the hamster, but it’s only mosquitoes. Everybody just remember it’s just mosquitoes.
TK: More science where people are going to be like, we can’t do science.
AB: I know, but this one just results in a need for calamine lotion. So, um, so they had a control and the test cage test cage, they had Skrillex playing control cage. They played no music. It was a silent cage. And what they discovered was that the mosquitoes in the Skrillex cage, they took two to three minutes for them to find the hamster. And that’s a long time. The control cage, 30 seconds found the hamster started biting that poor thing.
TK: I hope that they alleviated the poor hamster.
AB: The Skrillex cage though. It took two to three minutes and they made fewer attempts to feed and when it came to mating, their average was low too because they have a coordinated wing pattern, they just could not. And so, so it was five times fewer in the um, Skrillex cage.
AB: Yeah. So the mosquitoes in the silent cage, normal eating normal procreation, but Skrillex is not their jam.
TK: Okay. But now we just had a store at station break and we tend to listen to some Skrillex.
B: Yes. So we listened to, what was it called again?
AB: Scary monsters and Nice sprites.
TK: Okay. I guess, you know, it’s got a lot of really high frequency, like buzzy sounds and I imagine that maybe that’s interfering with mosquito communication.
TK: And if we weren’t listening on a phone, it probably has a decent amount of bass or a, the bass drops in at some point, I’m guessing. Did they have like, or is there a volume theory? Like if I was going to do this, what I have to just have a little speaker on my shoulder just blasting.
AB: I think just in proximity probably. However I think you’d want everybody, it would have to be loud enough if it’s just up by your head. I don’t think it would bug them down below. I think it has to be enough that they can kind of feel it. They, I didn’t read them anybody. This has been proven with other insects and other types of music too. In July, 2018 there was a study in ecology and evolution that revealed female beetles exposed to ACDC, lose their appetites. And so the aphid population would go nuts if we were really blasting a lot of ACDC throughout a whole town.
TK: Oh, all right.
AB: And the, the Pacific Standard notes that beetles that listened to country music by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings exhibited the same level of aphid eating as everybody else. So the bugs are cool with Willie and Waylon. That’s fine. I probably, Tom Jones is probably fine too.
TK: Oh yeah. He’s nice and mellow.
AB:So this is a way to avoid like Zika and dengue fever and yellow fever.
TK: But the practicality of this solution means, Hey, I’m going to go camping and I’m going to be that guy with the really loud speaker blaring. Cause that’s what I go to nature for, is to listen to precisely somebody else’s EDM music.
AB: So what this really means is the youths are probably winning when it comes to mosquito bites and summer events. The young, the young people are probably less affected by mosquito bites, hooray, young people. That’s my Brain Storm.
TK: You can find us on Facebook and Instagram as @BrainJunkPodcast, and you can find us on Twitter as @mybrainjunk, Amy and I will catch you next time when we share more of everything you never knew you wanted to know. And I guarantee you will not be bored. And if you don’t play your loud music, you will be itchy.
AB: That’s right.