Mosquito Song

Dr. Linda Styer of the New York State Health Department came to the Edmund Niles Huyck Preserve in Rensselaerville, NY, as part of the Thursday Night Lecture Series.  She spoke about mosquitos, for whom she obviously has great affection. She suggested that, after her talk, we might hesitate to squash the next mosquito that bit us until we had seen and admired the insect as she fed upon us.

Styer gave a brief précis of mosquito ecology, including a startling fact. The buzzing of mosquitoes is owed to the rapid vibration of their wings in flight: From 600 to 1200 herz.  Two mating mosquitos experience harmonic conversion as they prepare to mate, that is, they synchronize the frequency of their wing beats, so they sound in unison. Two males or two females will never do this. In fact, if their frequencies are too nearly alike, they will change them, so that the sounds remain separate. 

Play it again, Sam. “And when two lovers woo, they still experience harmonic convergence.”  We are not so different from the brute creation as we may think.

Blowing in the Wind

Call up

This is what you will see, but in motion:

It is a marvelous living map of the winds as they are occurring right now across the entire continental United States. Thanks to David Sassoon, who runs the fine climate blog, Inside Climate News ( for putting me onto this map.

A couple things about the map:

Notice that although the general motion is from West to East, there is a large component from south to north, flowing up from the warm Gulf of Mexico into the middle of the country. That in a nutshell is why we alone – with the possible companionship of Bangla Desh – have so many tornados. The air drawn up from the gulf packs immense quatities of wet energy, to make clouds, rain and wind.

An interesting thing to do with the map is to try to grasp from it the relief map of the country. You will see how mountains direct the flows of the air, and how the flow changes as it crosses over them.

Also, here you can see at a glance both the anticyclones – the high pressure systems of  sinking, clockwise-circling air that bring clear weather – and the cyclones—the low pressure systems of rising, counterclockwise-spinning air that bring the great continental storms.