Tiny spies: mosquito antennae are sensitive sensors for eavesdropping on frog calls


Most mosquito and midge species use hearing during acoustic mating behaviors. For frog-biting species, however, hearing plays an important role beyond mating as females rely on anuran calls to obtain blood meals. Despite the extensive work examining hearing in mosquito species that use sound in mating contexts, our understanding of how mosquitoes hear frog calls is limited. Here, we directly investigated the mechanisms underlying detection of frog calls by a mosquito species specialized on eavesdropping on anuran mating signals: Uranotaenia lowii. Behavioral, biomechanical and neurophysiological analyses revealed that the antenna of this frog-biting species can detect frog calls by relying on neural and mechanical responses comparable to those of non-frog-biting species. Our findings show that in Ur. lowii, contrary to most species, males do not use sound for mating, but females use hearing to locate their anuran host. We also show that the response of the antennae of this frog-biting species resembles that of the antenna of species that use hearing for mating. Finally, we discuss our data considering how mosquitoes may have evolved the ability to tap into the communication system of frogs.


© 2023. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd. cc-by


Antenna, Bioacoustics, Communication networks, Hearing, Midge, Uranotaenia lowii


Pantoja-Sanchez, H., Leavell, B.C., Rendon, B., P., de-Silva, W.A.P., Singh, R., Zhou, J., Menda, G., Hoy, R.R., Miles, R.N., Sanscrainte, N.D., & Bernal, X.E.. 2023. Tiny spies: mosquito antennae are sensitive sensors for eavesdropping on frog calls. Journal of Experimental Biology, 226(24). https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.245359