Mosquitoes can impress potential mates by harmonizing the high-pitched whine of their tiny wings. Now, scientists have discovered how this musical matchmaking helps the insects to pick their perfect partner.
Research on one of the main malaria carriers in Africa, Anopheles gambiae, shows that the insects use subtle differences in tone to distinguish between forms of mosquito that appear to be physically identical.
The preference for harmony is so strong that it seems to be causing two forms of mosquito living in the same region to become separate species. This strict mating policy may be a key factor in maintaining the genetic diversity that makes the insect so adaptable to different environments, and could point to other ways to disrupt mosquito reproduction in malaria-ridden countries.