Listening to Rush Limbaugh Kills Beetles' Appetite and Libido

By Smriti Rao | February 11, 2010 5:31 pm

about_the_show.Par.23173 If you play right-wing radio-host Rush Limbaugh to a bunch of bark beetles, could the sound kill them? Or could rock music make make insects so annoyed that they’ll stop whatever they’re doing? In one of the goofier experiments we’ve heard of lately, scientists decided to find out.

The researchers had a serious goal: to find a way to combat invasive beetles and to stop their destructive, tree-destroying, bark-eating behavior. The answer: loud, nasty, and offensive noises.

Changing ecosystems and climate change have allowed destructive bark beetles to spread out through new territories, where they’re wreaking havoc on the ponderosa, pinyon, and lodgepole pines. So scientists took infested trees back to the lab and played the “nastiest, most offensive sounds” they could think of to the beetles in the bark. Enter, Limbaugh, Queen, and Guns n’ Roses.

The beetles were not amused.

Discovery News reports:

The sounds disrupted tunneling, mating and reproduction for the beetles, making it harder for the insects to eat through the trees. The project, dubbed “Beetle Mania,” concluded that acoustic stress may disrupt the tenacious insects’ feeding and even cause the beetles to kill each other, according to a presentation recently at the National Meeting of the Entomological Society of America.

But after a while, the beetles grew accustomed to the noxious noises, researchers found. What ticked off the beetles even more than Limbaugh was the manipulated call of the insect itself. The scientists took the aggression call made by males of the “tree killer”  Dendroctonus species and altered the call, making it longer and louder than usual. This drove the beetles nuts. When they heard this sound right before mating they turned on each other, with the male beetles tearing apart the females.

So, what might the beetles have appreciated, if not loud, clangy, obnoxious music? The scientists suspect they might quite like their Liverpool-born namesakes.

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Discoblog: A Literally Crappy House Protects Beetle Larva From Predators
Discoblog: Cyborg Bugs! Researcher Controls Beetles With Radio Antenna

Image: The Rush Limbaugh Show

  • Michael

    I’ve never heard a minute of Rush’s program, ever, but I consider this ‘report’ to be absolute balderdash.

    Perhaps they should have subjected the unfortunate beetles to some Air America broadcasts, which would probably have had a very fatal effect. The sad insects would have just turned over and died. Like the Air America netwwork did…

  • http://www.brossmancorp.com Gregorivich

    You sound like a traditional butthurt Republican, Michael. Knock it off, it gives your people a bad name.

  • Brian

    This article is in poor taste, and reflects poorly on the journalistic integrity of any publications that continue to publish the story. The researchers “had a serious goal” – how can anybody take them seriously? Thank goodness for government research grants – otherwise they would be flipping burgers for a living.

    And no, I’m not a Republican. I think Limbaugh is a pompous windbag.

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