We’re finally free from what has been a particularly punishing winter. The weather’s getting warmer. The snow is (pretty much) gone. And we’re all deluding ourselves about outdoor activities and summer camping trips, because in a matter of weeks, we’re going to be face-to-face with Minnesota’s most nefarious enemy: mosquitoes.
But as it turns out, we have a new weapon against these bloodsuckers, and it comes from an unlikely source. A recent study found that this song by Skrillex may just keep mosquitoes from biting you -- and producing more baby mosquitoes.
We know you have questions. Before you ask, yes, this is a real scientific study, published in the journal Acta Tropica. Yes, the music has to be electronic, and it has to be by American dubstep artist Skrillex. No, we have no idea if Skrillex intended to save us all along.
According to the study entitled, “The electronic song ‘Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites’ reduces host attack and mating success in the dengue vector Aedes aegypti,” mosquitoes need “low-frequency vibrations” to find their way around and “facilitate sexual interactions.”
“Scary Monsters,” a scratchy, thrumming club hit from 2010, has a mix of “very high and very low frequencies,” which have been known to influence mosquito behavior. Adult bugs in an environment without music were able to feed on their hosts earlier and more often than those thrown into an environment where the beats were dropping and the wubs were wubbing.
“In addition to providing insight into the auditory sensitivity of Ae. aegypti to sound, our results indicated the vulnerability of its key vectoral capacity traits to electronic music,” the study said. This news could provide “new avenues” for music-based protection systems against Aedes-borne diseases, like dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya, and Zika.
The Metropolitan Mosquito Control District, which attempts to control the mosquito population in the seven-county area surrounding the Twin Cities, is taking this with several grains of salt.
"I don't know if we're going to be hanging speakers around our necks anytime soon," spokesperson Mike McLean says. The idea that mosquitoes "respond in some behavioral way to sound" isn't completely "out of the blue," he says, and the study is "interesting."
"I can see where [Skrillex] would annoy them," he concedes. "I'd get annoyed."
But studies like these are also often the germ for the next "quack" mosquito repellent device on the market, and he wants consumers to be careful.
But Skrillex, at least, seems excited.
“No more mosquitoes man,” he tweeted on Wednesday. “Science icon.”