If you cover your ears with your hands, you can listen to your heartbeat and some of the other internal buzz and hum that goes on inside of your body. These are familiar sounds to all of us. For the first time, however, scientists have just recorded sounds emanating from inside living insects, such as flies, mosquitoes and ladybugs.
Igor Sokolov and his team at Clarkson University managed this feat using atomic force microscopy, a very sensitive tool that's popular now in nanotechnology. It records sub-nano oscillations of very faint noises, less than the amplitude size of a single atom and at incredibly high frequencies—up to 1,000 hertz or cycles per second.
Similar to using a stethoscope, the researchers placed a probe for this device on top of each bug to capture the recordings.
In future, such work may reveal unknown features and physiology of insects. It could also lead to solutions for problems caused by many bugs.
"Insects are of general interest
not only as the most numerous and diverse group of animals on the
planet, but also as highly efficient bio-machines varying greatly in
size," said Sokolov. "Some are major agricultural pests and competitors
of humans for crops. Mosquitoes and other insects are important vectors
of plant, animal, and human diseases. Also, vast lands of the earth are
still underdeveloped because they are occupied by blood-sucking
Please listen to these haunting sounds.
(Closeup of a common housefly; Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
(Credit: Jon Sullivan)
(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Mosquito Internal Sounds (Crank up the volume for this one, as the noise is quite faint)
The Sokolov team's research is published in the top journal of
applied physics, Applied Physics Letters, at http://apl.aip.org/applab/v96/i4/p043701_s1 .