Controlling swarms of flies and gnats by singing tones to them

  • Published on Jan 12, 2018
  • A few years ago I discovered an interesting insect behaviour whereby I could seemingly control large swarms of tiny flies/gnats simply by singing a range of tones to them. I first noticed this in the UK in 2004 but have since been able to replicate the experiment several times here in Australia and more recently captured it on video near the town of Woolgoolga in NSW.
    Initially I noticed that a swarm of gnats above me seemed to slow their frantic movement when I started to speak and after a little experimentation I discovered that certain higher pitched vocals would cause the flies to noticeably rise upwards as a group and then rapidly drop downwards again upon ceasing the tone.
    I've noticed this both with gnats in a forest environment and also with sand fly swarms at the beach. What's also interesting is the flies seem to have excellent hearing over quite some distance as I have seen them reacting to a dog barking perhaps 50m away.
    I'd be interested to know if anyone has ever noticed this insect behaviour before or been able to capture it on video. If you happen to be an entomologist I'd also be interested in discussing this with you.
  • Pets & AnimalsPets & Animals

Comments • 25

  • XpertCameraMan
    XpertCameraMan 5 days ago

    Thought this was BS - but then took a closer look and was amazed :D

    • Fontgod
      Fontgod  5 days ago

      Yep, have had a few comments that it's CGI but the reality is my 3D skills wouldn't even extend to creating a teapot. :)

  • Cubosoide
    Cubosoide 7 days ago

    Wow

  • Shannon LaCorte
    Shannon LaCorte 7 days ago +4

    First off, what an adorable little one with you 😘
    Secondly, this has happens for me also 😬
    I live in Ohio USA
    We have lots of insects in the summer because we have woods on our land that they love to congregate around.
    I use different "Ohm" tones.
    Sometimes they just completely leave the area 😳
    They always come back tho 😞
    So fascinating how nature interacts with us but most humans BARELY notice.
    That's why I was happy to see this post.
    SOMEONE noticed 👍🏻😁Namaste 🙏🏼

    • Fontgod
      Fontgod  7 days ago +2

      Thankyou... he is a cute little munchkin isnt he. So true about most people not noticing this sort of thing but it just comes naturally to me to look a little closer than most. Glad there are others in the world who look through the same type of eyes. :)

  • TazTalksYouListen
    TazTalksYouListen 8 days ago +1

    My guess would be that their flying wing frequency is very sensitive and responsive to related frequencies (although obviously at much different octaves) in much the same way that piano wires react to each other to make piano notes involve more than just one wire vibrating. A recent video was made about the topic "sympathetic resonance." tvclip.biz/video/zHWex94-mHg/video.html

    • TazTalksYouListen
      TazTalksYouListen 7 days ago

      It wasn't me on reddit, but as always, intelligent minds think alike... :-)

    • Fontgod
      Fontgod  8 days ago

      I watched that piano video a few weeks back, very cool. Someone over at Reddit suggested something similar to what you mentioned (perhaps it was you?). Sounds entirely plausible and makes a lot of sense as different pitches tend to result in varying effects in their flight pattern, I seem to remember a lower pitch put them into what looked like a slow motion mode of their regular skittish flight but I didn't capture that so well. Someone else also suggested that it is a mechanism to evade bats that are using echolocation to hunt and there are some scientific studies that back this up. It's possible to levitate objects with sound, so if an object is already in flight then it also makes sense that sound vibrations in the air could effect their flight pattern and cause a gnat to rise upwards or slow its flight.

  • Kevin Doyle
    Kevin Doyle 8 days ago +2

    Obviously he's discovered reversed CGI. Bravo.

    • Fontgod
      Fontgod  8 days ago

      Not too sure what reverse CGI is, but there's no VFX in this video unless you count a single cut in Windows movie maker. :)

  • vali grad
    vali grad 9 days ago +4

    youre not controlling, they are avoiding your air vibrations :))

    • Fontgod
      Fontgod  9 days ago +1

      When a farmer or dog herds a flock of sheep through a gate, does s/he have control of the sheep?

  • Tomasz Zaleski
    Tomasz Zaleski 9 days ago +2

    GREAT CATCH!!!!!

  • Hanz Azazel
    Hanz Azazel 9 days ago +7

    Most interesting thing I've seen all day.

  • Castalameow
    Castalameow 9 days ago +14

    nanananananananana GNATMAN!!!!!

    • Fontgod
      Fontgod  9 days ago

      You may have just coined a meme... haha.

  • Louis Maldonado
    Louis Maldonado 9 days ago +2

    amazing

  • James S
    James S 9 days ago +6

    Small flying insects like this have an unbelievable sense of smell, far more sensitive than any other known animal. What they are reacting to is the smell of your breath as you exhale whilst speaking, hence why the effect is unchanged by the loudness of your voice as the effect is undiminished by you speaking at a normal volume.

    • Fontgod
      Fontgod  7 days ago

      I know you are asking James S, but here's a little reading regarding response to sound that someone else at Reddit mentioned to me (which also makes me think this is not CO2 related) . academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/51/7/570/268256

    • HostileLemons
      HostileLemons 7 days ago +1

      James S Can't be. Scents are not transferred through the air instantaneously to cause the nats to react instantly. Rather smells diffuse rather slowly.
      This reaction is more likely due to the changes in the air pressure as the man speaks which affect the nats flight.

    • Caden Pyrlik
      Caden Pyrlik 7 days ago +2

      I don't think that this is what's happening given how far away they are and how quickly they are reacting. No matter how good their sense of smell is, they can't smell something that hasn't reached them yet.

    • Shannon LaCorte
      Shannon LaCorte 7 days ago +1

      James S
      Hi 👋🏼
      Do you have a reference to your statement that explains the fundamentals of these insects reacting to breath smell versus tone??
      Because I don't know if that's accurate information.
      I'd like to find out for sure by reading the same information as you explaining and proving your statement.
      Thanks 👍🏻😃

    • Fontgod
      Fontgod  9 days ago +2

      I've always thought it related to gases coming out of the ground or plant aromas. Maybe they also like the magnetic fields from power lines?