We can all name a few insects that create sounds that seem overwhelming. Cicadas, for example, are notorious for the loud sounds that they create. Crickets, although not as loud as cicadas, are also a bit on the noisy side. However, when factoring in body size, an insect species that is native to Europe is the loudest of all. Recent research has revealed that the minuscule water boatmen insect can create sounds that are as loud to human ears as motorcycles. These aquatic insects can create sounds that reach ninety nine decibels. This fact came as a surprise even to the researchers responsible for determining this fact.

This discovery was made by French and Scottish researchers who call the loud insect sounds “songs.” Initially, the researchers were under the impression that the loud songs were being produced by a much larger group of animals. According to researcher Dr. James Windmill, these aquatic insects are loud enough to be heard from the surface of water, even when these insects are singing from the bottom of a river. These water boatman insects (Micronecta scholtzi) sing their loud songs in order to attract mates. Also, it appears that these insects create these sounds by using their genitalia in an interesting way. The water boatmen will stride their genitalia along a ridge located on their abdomens in order to “sing”, as the researchers put it.

Strangely enough, this is not the only insect known for creating songs via their own genitals. Pyrallid moths, for example, use a modified genitalia to produce ultrasonic signals. Although this sort of anatomical functioning may seem strange, insects must use one, or more, of their body parts in order to create sounds. Some insects use wings, some use legs, and some use their genitals. There is still much research to be done concerning the water boatman insect’s song, as researchers do not know how such a small area could produce a sound that is so loud.

Have you ever heard an insect “song” that you had never heard before or ever again? If so, where were you located when you heard the insect song? Which type of insect was creating the song?


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