Rumor Flies

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Rumor Flies comically addresses the origins, evolution, and veracity of your favorite rumors, myths, and misconceptions. Tune in for more research, stories, and unsolicited commentary! Participation encouraged.

Snap Judgment #18: Flies are Singing for You

Snapple Fact #1382: A housefly hums in the key of F

Verdict: True

So I had originally planned a different one since this is another "music related" topic (sort of) like the black holes post, but Ryan and Josh picked up the camel topic I was going to write about for our most recent recording (we did another Snapple fact check episode for this season!). This was the other topic I had prepped, so here we are!

According to Mental Floss, the common household fly flaps its wings around 190 times a second, which the human ear perceives as a note in F major (which includes F, G, A, B♭, C, D, and E). The wings are flapping are responsible for the sound we hear, which is actually pretty common among insects. Even though there is variation in size and speed of each fly, the measurements are proportional, so for instance if the wings are larger the number of flaps will be less frequent (and vice versa). This insures they "stay in key." 

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Female mosquitos, according to the previously linked Purdue article, use this pitch to attract male mosquitos. It is a rare example of a female species using sounds to attract males in their species. It is so enticing, a tuning fork tuned to the key of F will actually attract male mosquitos pretty effectively. I couldn't find a good video example of this, so if you know of any let us know! 

Sorry this one was a little shorter than usual. It was interesting (at least to me) but somewhat straightforward. We will hunt down a big one for you next week. Until then, we hope you enjoyed this "Snap Judgment"!

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