I've long suspected grasshoppers had a mental edge over us, and they've proven it once again. All of us urban city-dwellers have had our fair share of trouble hearing conversational tidbits from an alluring member of the opposite sex over the roaring traffic. Grasshoppers are no different, so they changed their courting songs to deal with the rumble of city life.
Researchers from Bielefeld University caught 188 male bow-winged grasshoppers and got them all hot and bothered with some female grasshoppers. They started playing their own personal versions of Marvin Gaye, and lo and behold, the songs from roadside grasshoppers were different from those rural-dwellers.
"Bow-winged grasshoppers produce songs that include low and high frequency components. We found that grasshoppers from noisy habitats boost the volume of the lower-frequency part of their song, which makes sense since road noise can mask signals in this part of the frequency spectrum," said study leader Ulrike Lampe.
Knowing this, the researchers plan to find out if these changes in song come at the larvae stage or if older grasshoppers pick up the old electric amp and start blasting their tunes over traffic.