Auditory sensory range of male mosquitoes for the detection of female flight sound

Toshiyuki Nakata, Patrício Simões, Simon M Walker, Ian J Russell, Richard J Bomphrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Male mosquitoes detect and localize conspecific females by their flight-tones using the Johnston's organ (JO), which detects antennal deflections under the influence of local particle motion. Acoustic behaviours of mosquitoes and their JO physiology have been investigated extensively within the frequency domain, yet the auditory sensory range and the behaviour of males at the initiation of phonotactic flights are not well known. In this study, we predict a maximum spatial sensory envelope for flying by integrating the physiological tuning response of the male JO with female aeroacoustic signatures derived from numerical simulations. Our sensory envelope predictions were tested with a behavioural assay of free-flying males responding to a female-like artificial pure tone. The minimum detectable particle velocity observed during flight tests was in good agreement with our theoretical prediction formed by the peak JO sensitivity measured in previous studies. The iso-surface describing the minimal detectable particle velocity represents the quantitative auditory sensory range of males and is directional with respect to the female body orientation. Our results illuminate the intricacy of the mating behaviour and point to the importance of observing the body orientation of flying mosquitoes to understand fully the sensory ecology of conspecific communication.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20220285
Number of pages10
Issue number193
Early online date24 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the Osimo Foundation to T.N. and the Medical Research Council (grant no. MR/N004299/1) to I.J.R. and P.S. R.J.B. was supported, in part, by the Autonomous Systems Underpinning Research (ASUR) programme under the auspices of Dstl, the UK Ministry of Defence, and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (grant no. BB/J001244/1). Acknowledgements

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors.


  • aeroacoustics
  • Sound
  • fluid dynamics
  • Culex - physiology
  • flight
  • Culicidae - physiology
  • auditory physiology
  • Animals
  • Flight, Animal - physiology
  • mosquito
  • Male
  • phonotaxis
  • Female


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