Grasshoppers evolve a sound that allows them to be heard over traffic

While humans might not be making too much noise in the oceans, above ground it's a whole different story. In fact, even insects are having to adapt to the huge amount of noise pollution created by humans — grasshoppers are having to up the volume to be heard over traffic.

That's according to German researchers, who compared the mating sounds of male bow-winged grasshoppers between those captured near busy roads, and those from the quiet countryside.

Lo and behold, the grasshoppers that live near roads made a substantially different song to those from quiet locations, significantly boosting the low frequency component of their mating call. The researchers theorize the change is to be heard over the background roar of traffic. In a release, lead author Ulrike Lampe said:

"Increased noise levels could affect grasshopper courtship in several ways. It could prevent females from hearing male courtship songs properly, prevent females from recognising males of their own species, or impair females' ability to estimate how attractive a male is from his song."

This marks the first time that insects have been observed changing their sounds due to anthropogenic noise — so the question now is if this happens with other insects, and what effect it has on them.

Photo by Horyniec Zdroj