Heavy Metal Repels Insects
No – I’m not talking about lead, arsenic or mercury. On the heels of our post on semiochemical boundaries the WallStreetJournal has published an article on the use of hard rock music as a boundary to control hordes of swarming Mormon crickets:
TUSCARORA, Nev. — The residents of this tiny town, anticipating an imminent attack, will be ready with a perimeter defense. They’ll position their best weapons at regular intervals, faced out toward the desert to repel the assault.
Then they’ll turn up the volume.
Rock music blaring from boomboxes has proved one of the best defenses against an annual invasion of Mormon crickets. The huge flightless insects are a fearsome sight as they advance across the desert in armies of millions that march over, under or into anything in their way.
But the crickets don’t much fancy Led Zeppelin or the Rolling Stones, the townspeople figured out three years ago. So next month, Tuscarorans are preparing once again to get out their extension cords, array their stereos in a quarter-circle and tune them to rock station KHIX, full blast, from dawn to dusk. “It is part of our arsenal,” says Laura Moore, an unemployed college professor and one of the town’s 13 residents.
Scientists aren’t sure if vibrations from the music deter the marauding arthropods – or indeed – if the muscial barrier even works, but residents plan to blast music in the crickets’ direction from dawn ’till dusk in the hope that the plan will work as well as it did back in 2006 when residents swear that the music stopped the bugs dead in their tracks.
Contrary to what my parents told me, heavy metal is a whole lot safer than insecticides and it’s not nearly as messy as smashing or smothering tens of thousands of thumb-sized bugs. Because some of the crickets that hatched in 2007 weren’t deterred by Led Zeppelin and Marilyn Manson, the residents of tiny Tuscarora have a fall back plan - if they don’t do the trick this year they’ll add the roar of dozens of weed-whackers and lawn mowers.