There’s nothing worse than a mosquito flying around your room at night. There’s something about the buzzing noise right around your ear that prevents you from falling asleep. But how do mosquitoes make sounds?
Mosquitoes create a buzzing sound while quickly flapping their wings. Male and female mosquitoes will communicate by tuning into the flight sound and using their buzzing sound as a way to find a mate. Some mosquito noises can’t even be heard by the human ear!
There are about 3,500 species of mosquitoes, but thankfully only about 40 pose a risk to humans. Keep reading to learn how and why mosquitoes make sound!
- Mosquitoes make buzzing noises by flapping their wings and use this noise to communicate with other mosquitoes.
- Mosquitoes often fly near our ears, making their buzzing sound more noticeable.
- Male and female mosquitoes make different sounds that range in differing frequencies.
Mosquitoes’ Wings Create A Buzzing Sound
Nothing says summer like the buzzing sound of mosquitoes, right? How does such a tiny pest create such an annoying sound?
Mosquito Wings Move Super Fast
Georgia Tech tells us that mosquitoes can flap their wings more than 800 times per second! That’s 48,000 times per minute. This amazing capability is thanks to their wing muscles, which literally move faster than their nervous system can even tell them to beat!
Female mosquitoes move their wings slower than males because they are larger. Males can beat their wings twice as fast as females.
Even though mosquitoes are tiny, because their wings move so fast, they create an audible buzzing noise that us humans can hear. It’s practically the anthem of summer evenings!
Mosquitoes Target Our Ears
One of the main reasons we hear mosquitoes buzzing around is because they’re always near our ears. You normally hear mosquitoes by your ears because that’s near the area where you omit the most carbon dioxide, a favorite scent of mosquitoes.
Every time you breath out, you are emitting carbon dioxide into the air, which attracts mosquitoes. As they buzz near your face, they make their away around to the side of your head and near your ear, emitting that annoying, high-pitched buzz that makes our skin crawl!
In addition to the carbon dioxide, your ears are also an area that has thin skin and access to blood vessels that are close to the surface.
Mosquitoes Make Sounds To Locate Mates
Mosquitoes Use Their Antennae To Hear
Mosquitoes don’t exactly have ‘ears’ like humans do. Instead, they use their antennae to pick up sounds, especially from other mosquitoes.
The antennae of a mosquito do a remarkable job of receiving sound. A study published in the Journal Current Biology found that male mosquitoes can hear up to 32 feet away! This is impressive for a creature that doesn’t have an eardrum!
A mosquito uses its antennae to sense air particles vibrating at certain frequencies. The ‘sweet spot’ for a mosquito is between 150 and 500 hertz. It’s no surprise that a female mosquito’s wing beats at around 400 hertz. Additionally, the human voice falls within that frequency, though no studies have correlated this to attracting mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes Use Buzzing To Find Mates
Male and female mosquitoes emit different sounds with their wings. The distinct sound difference between males and females means even in a swarm, mosquitoes can identify the sound of the opposite gender.
The auditory interactions between mosquitoes are usually the first behavior exhibited before mating begins. Mosquitoes will adjust their flight tones to find out whether they are compatible with one another. A sitting female mosquito isn’t necessarily appealing to a male, however, once she starts flapping her wings, the sound is a call to surrounding male mosquitos.
Interested male mosquitoes will signal back they are available and ready for mating. Once a male and female mosquito come together, they begin synchronizing their buzzes.
Mosquitoes Push Their Buzzing In Specific Directions
Despite being awarded summer’s most annoying insect, mosquitoes are pretty talented creatures. Unlike fruit flies and other fly species, a mosquitoe’s wings are long and slender, not short and stubby. This helps them complete three different tasks at once:
- Staying aloft
- Generating sound
- Directing sound
This may not sound that impressive to us, but in the insect world, these pests are like star athletes! Being able to direct their buzzing sound is important to find mates. If a potential mate can’t hear the buzzing, they can’t find a mate.
Think of the difference between talking to someone face-to-face and talking to someone who has their back turned. It’s easy to miss important information when sounds aren’t moving directly at you, which is why mosquitoes have evolved to push sound in specific directions with their wings, making it easier to locate and chase mates.
Mosquitoes Give Off Vibrations When They Fly
We already mentioned that mosquitoes “hear” with their antennae, but let’s dive into the mechanics of this phenomenon. When a mosquito flies around, its wings give off vibrations at specific frequencies. These vibrations are then picked up by other mosquitoes.
In their most basic form, vibrations are when particles move from their original resting position. For humans, these vibrations are picked up by the eardrum, which also vibrates and is how we perceive sound.
Things are a little different for mosquitoes. The vibrations sent off by female mosquitoes are picked up by male antennae. The antennae act like an eardrum, vibrating in response. The vibrations are then transmitted through a special organ in the mosquito that translates vibration into sound. Pretty cool, right?
Male Mosquitoes Pick Up Vibrations More Accurately Than Females
For their continued survival, male mosquitoes must be able to find female mosquitoes to mate. Since finding a mate is specifically tied to their perception of sound coming from female mosquitoes, male mosquitoes can ‘hear’ better than females.
It all comes back to the antennae! Male mosquito antennae are far more sensitive than female antennae. Females tend to give off a lower frequency buzz with their wings, which males pick up on and zoom over to them.
What To Do If You Find Mosquitoes Around Your House
Not all mosquitoes are harmful to humans. In fact, it’s only the female mosquitoes that bite us! This is because they must feed on blood to survive and reproduce. However, since none of us wants to identify each mosquito that comes near us, let’s treat every mosquito as if it might bite us.
If you see a few mosquitoes buzzing around your house, there are many things you can do to get them out and keep them out for good. Let’s start by making sure it’s a mosquito because these pests are often confused with other harmless insects.
Make Sure It’s A Mosquito
I thought I knew exactly what a mosquito looked like until I heard about crane flies. Crane flies are just one of many insects that are confused with mosquitoes.
Here is a breakdown of the insects commonly confused with mosquitoes and some identifying characteristics:
|Dangerous to humans
As you can see, of these six insects, the mosquito is the only one that is dangerous to humans. While flies and gnats may be annoying, other insects like crane flies are actually beneficial to have around. So, before taking out any insects with extreme prejudice, make sure you have a mosquito on your hands!
Seal Up All Entry Points
Mosquitoes are small insects that can fit through the tiniest of spaces to invade your home. Sealing up all entry points is a solid way to keep these pests out of your home.
- Repair broken screens: Check the screens on your windows and doors and ensure they are in good working order. Repair any torn or ripped screens as soon as possible.
- Keep doors closed: It’s tempting to leave the windows and doors wide open in the summer, but this is an open invitation for mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes aren’t likely to sneak in through gaps and cracks in siding or roofing. They are far more likely to enter the home through doors and windows. We have a fantastic guide on the best ways to keep mosquitoes out of your house for good. Check it out to keep these pesky flying insects away from your home.
Eliminate Standing Water
The most important way to deter mosquitoes from around the home is not to target the adults but to target the larvae. When mosquitoes lay eggs, they typically lay them in or around standing water. Once they hatch, the larvae remain in the standing water until molting into pupae and then into adults.
Removing the presence of standing water around the home will remove all nesting sites for mosquitoes. Pay special attention to these areas with standing water:
- Flower pot holders
- Rain barrels
- Garden materials such as buckets, shovels, empty flower pots
Think of anything that has the potential to hold standing water and remove it from your yard. If you can’t remove the standing water, consider treating the water with something like SUMMIT CHEMICAL Mosquito Bits, which can be added to stagnant water to eliminate mosquito larvae. Do not use this in drinking water.
Got a swimming pool? Don’t worry, you don’t need to drain it to get rid of your mosquito problem. Read our guide on easy tips to keep mosquitoes out of swimming pools!
Use A Repellent Spray
Mosquitoes can be repelled from certain areas with insecticidal sprays and repellents. Cutter Backyard Bug Control Spray can cover up to 5,000 square feet and lasts up to 12 weeks. This spray can be used on outdoor lawns and surfaces.
For indoor control, check out Wondercide – Indoor Pest Control Spray. This can be used indoors near doors, windows, and wet areas to repel and eliminate mosquitoes.
Candles Can Repel Mosquitoes
We all know about citronella candles being an effective mosquito repellent, but citronella isn’t the only scent that can repel these flying pests.
Peppermint, citronella, rosemary, lemongrass, and cedarwood are all excellent candle scents to repel mosquitoes. BugBane’s Mosquito Candle contains all five of these scents packed into one repellent candle!
A classic citronella candle will work as well. TIKI® Brand 28 Ounce Citronella Wax Candle works great and can be placed on your porch to keep those buzzing insects away.
Use Scent Deterrents
Believe it or not, mosquitoes have a strong sense of smell that they use to find potential meals. Using strong scents overpowers their sense of smell, making it difficult for them to locate prey (aka, us!).
Some of the scents that can repel mosquitoes include:
- Black pepper: Piperine is the main chemical in black pepper that helps to repel mosquitoes. You can read more about ways to use black pepper to repel mosquitoes here.
- Cloves: Cloves contain an important compound, eugenol, that is a known repellent for both mammals and insects, including mosquitoes! Learn how to use it in our article on the ways to use cloves to keep mosquitoes away.
- Lavender: Lavender is another strong-smelling plant that can be used to keep mosquitoes away. Plant it near your porch to keep these pesky insects away on warm summer nights! You can read about why lavender works to repel mosquitoes here.
For a more comprehensive list of strong scents that can keep mosquitoes away, cruise over to our guide on the scents that mosquitoes hate.
Eliminate Overwintering Spots
You wouldn’t think mosquitoes could survive the cold winters, but they must, right, or else mosquitoes would go extinct! Mosquitoes look for warm, undisturbed areas to rest over the winter, entering a hibernation-like state.
Look for these areas in your yard and try to eliminate them if possible:
- Hollow logs
- Stagnant water (Yep, mosquito eggs can easily survive the winter!)
- Beneath bark or leaves
- In brush piles near water sources
When mosquitoes can’t find a place to safely stay over the winter, they’re likely to buzz off to somewhere else, far away from your yard and home. You can read more about the places go during the winter here.
Call A Professional
A few mosquitoes here and there is one thing, but if you have swarms of mosquitoes around your home, it’s a good idea to call in a pest control specialist. Professionals can help identify what is attracting so many mosquitoes to your home and give you attainable ways to remove and repel them.
Use our nationwide pest control finder to connect with a local professional today!
Preventing Mosquito Bites
Taking a few preventative steps will help you from being on the menu for a mosquito looking for its next meal. If you find yourself ridden with bites, it’s best to treat them to prevent irritation. Apply ice to the bite and then an over-the-counter anti-itch cream for best results.
If you know you will be in an area with mosquitoes, consider doing the following to prevent any potential bites:
- Use bug spray: apply bug repellent to your exposed skin, such as Murphy’s Naturals Lemon Eucalyptus Oil Insect Repellent Spray. This natural spray doesn’t leave a horrible smell like DEET.
- Protect exposed skin: Wear long-sleeved clothing to cover as many areas of skin as possible.
- Use a mosquito net hat: N/C’s Mosquito Head Net Hat will protect your head and face from biting mosquitoes while you are outdoors.
- Stay inside: If the mosquitoes are too bad, stay inside. If it happens to be a bad breeding season, it’s better to stay inside until the swarm quiets down.
If you happen to get bit, wash the area with warm water and soap first, then apply an ice pack for 10 minutes to reduce swelling. If necessary, use an over-the-counter anti-itch cream or spray to help with the itching. For a homemade recipe, simply add a paste of baking soda and water to the affected area.
That’s a wrap on how mosquitoes make sound. A mosquito’s buzz may be annoying to humans, but it serves a great purpose to them. Mosquitoes make their signature buzzing sound when they flap their wings. In addition, mosquitoes buzz to attract a mate and can change their frequency along the way.
Mosquitoes also are found buzzing around your head because that’s where you secrete the most carbon dioxide, one of their favorite scents.
There are various ways to repel buzzing mosquitoes from your home, such as sealing up windows and doors, using scent deterrents, spraying insecticides, and removing sources of standing water.
As a reminder, mosquitoes are most active as the sun goes down and when it’s not too hot. It’s crucial to protect yourself if you are out during this time of day. Also, you are more susceptible to mosquito bites if you live near water, so remember to take precautions.
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