Latest Issue of Science News


Crickets on Mute: Hush falls as killer fly stalks singers

Within just 5 years, singing has nearly died out among a population of cricket on a Hawaiian island, researchers report.

A mutation for silence has spread so fast because an invasion of deadly flies finds male crickets to attack by following their chirps, says Marlene Zuk of the University of California, Riverside.

However, female crickets also listen for chirps to find the males, so a guy who can't sing has a problem. The mute males seem to be coping, at least temporarily, by clustering around the few remaining chirpers, Zuk and her colleagues report in the Dec. 22 Biology Letters.

Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.