ScienceShot: Stinkbug Phone Lines

Meta Virant-Doberlet/National Institute of Biology, Slovenia

Stinkbugs have green communication all figured out. Clicking out loud attracts predators, and clicking sounds made behind vegetation don't travel far because plants dampen high frequencies. So the 2-centimeter-long insects use plant stalks as personal phone lines. According to research that will be presented on 18 November at the Pan-American/Iberian Meeting on Acoustics in Cancun, Mexico, stinkbugs transmit sound by vibrating their abdomens at frequencies near 100Hz. The plant stalks where stinkbugs hide carry these frequencies efficiently, transmitting the buzzes up to several meters. Stinkbugs of different species vibrate in different patterns, so potential mates or rivals can find them. That is, assuming they want to take the call.

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