This week’s Headline of the Week comes from last year — June 30, 2011, to be specific. We neglected it, unfairly, at the time, though we did mention it later. Now we are mentioning it again. Behold:
By Ella Davies
Reporter, BBC Nature
Scientists from France and Scotland recorded the aquatic animal “singing” at up to 99.2 decibels, the equivalent of listening to a loud orchestra play while sitting in the front row. The insect makes the sound by rubbing its penis against its abdomen in a process known as “stridulation”. Researchers say the song is a courtship display performed to attract a mate. Micronecta scholtzi are freshwater insects measuring just 2mm that are common across Europe.
In a study published in the journal PLoS One, the scientists discovered that the small animals make a mighty sound….
The BBC Web site goes on to reproduce the sound, but not the penis. The study is: “So Small, So Loud: Extremely High Sound Pressure Level from a Pygmy Aquatic Insect (Corixidae, Micronectinae),” Jérôme Sueur, David Mackie, James F.C. Windmill, PLoS ONE 6(6), 2011, p. e21089.
(Thanks to investigator John Hoyland for bringing it to our attention.)
UPDATE: Alexis Rudd says, “Decibels in air and water are reported differently, so convert carefully between your insect & orchestra.”