Why Mosquitoes Spin After Being Swatted

In summary: I was watching, I would expect it to spin in all directions, not just one specific direction.3. I have seen this before. I've recorded it. A dead mosquito will go through all sorts of reflexive motions, but the spinning is always the last.
  • #1
WiFO215
420
1
I'd purchased a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosquito_bat" recently. These things are very handy for swatting mosquitoes in the rainy season. A little while ago, I noticed something curious while swatting: after I hit the creature, it falls on the floor and begins to spin rapidly. Many a time I have tried to get this on video, but by the time I run back with the camera, it stops spinning. This time, I happened to have a cell phone camera on me and recorded it.



Can anyone explain why this happens? If additional information is required to explain this, please let me know. I would guess that a jolt of current does something, but what exactly?
 
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  • #2
You would spin too if you were in that much pain. Get a more efficient swatter to kill the mosquito instantly.
 
  • #3
anirudh215 said:
I'd purchased a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosquito_bat" recently. These things are very handy for swatting mosquitoes in the rainy season. A little while ago, I noticed something curious while swatting: after I hit the creature, it falls on the floor and begins to spin rapidly. Many a time I have tried to get this on video, but by the time I run back with the camera, it stops spinning. This time, I happened to have a cell phone camera on me and recorded it.



Can anyone explain why this happens? If additional information is required to explain this, please let me know. I would guess that a jolt of current does something, but what exactly?


You do realize this is the equivilant to asking why a freshly tasered man twitches.
 
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  • #4
Neat!
 
  • #5
Well, the fly is seriously injured and is trying to get to a different location.
It thus beats its wings to try and fly away. Being injured it is unable to fly away, and likely its wings are injured.
So, instead of lifting off and away, the wings are so screwed up the fly just spins around. As well, the fly probably is trying to crawl away at the same time, leading to further chaotic motion.
 
  • #6
@Meir Achuz, xxChrisxx and pallidin -

The mosquito is dead. I've checked this plenty of times when this happens as I myself was curious to see why this happens. You can't see it, but when it does the sliding toward the end of the video, no body parts move individually. It moves as a rigid body. Having seen half-dead mosquitoes before, I am quite sure they at least twitch their feet also.

Secondly, the camera doesn't show the rate at which the mosquito is spinning. It is spinning VERY fast. It certainly couldn't move this fast when it was alive. It is most certainly not going to do so if it is injured.

I was thinking that the bat sets up some sort of current running through the thing so that it is orienting towards some magnetic field? Or maybe the current is doing something else.

And lastly, please don't pity the damned thing. We get so many of them here that you get eaten alive after 6 PM. It's terrible.
 
  • #7
Well, if it's dead it won't move beyond the complex air patterns produced by the swatter.

If you have an electric swatter, things are slightly different, but in no way accounts for 'spin'. I still believe that the motion you see is from something not yet dead.
 
  • #8
Some dead animals go though all sorts of reflexive motion. I have seen a headless chicken run around for several minutes. I didn't eat chicken for years after that.
If the dead fly started to spin with parts extended, it would speed up as the extended parts contracted.
 
  • #9
Meir Achuz said:
Some dead animals go though all sorts of reflexive motion. I have seen a headless chicken run around for several minutes. I didn't eat chicken for years after that.
If the dead fly started to spin with parts extended, it would speed up as the extended parts contracted.

Related to this thread, I'm just wondering:
Has the "headless chicken running around for several minutes" been somehow scientifically described? OK, I'm a nerd. Just wondering. We don't see that happen with humans.
 
  • #10
No. It is spinning far faster than mosquitoes move when alive. And most of the time, regardless of how I hit it, the ones that DO spin all spin in the same spot like the one above. All of them spin in the same fashion.

I wouldn't expect that if it was half-alive and simply trying to get away.
 
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  • #11
Let me make this more cogent:

Reasons for my belief that the mosquito is dead:

1. Their body is stiff when it spins and completely unlike mosquitoes when they are half dead and trying to escape. From my observations while swatting mosquitoes (which spans my entire life), they twitch when they are half dead. They DO NOT remain stiff.

2. They spin abnormally fast, and all of them in the same fashion. If this was a random thing that occurred for won't of getting away from me, I'd expect a more random motion depending on what parts of the mosquito I've destroyed.
 
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  • #12
I shall try this tonight if any of them happen to spin. I have a large magnet ( part of my Levitron ), using which I shall try to see if I can induce a change in this spinning motion.
 

Related to Why Mosquitoes Spin After Being Swatted

1. Why do mosquitoes spin after being swatted?

Mosquitoes spin after being swatted as a defense mechanism. When they sense danger, they quickly spin their bodies to try and escape from the potential threat.

2. Is the spinning motion a sign of pain or discomfort for the mosquito?

No, the spinning motion is not a sign of pain or discomfort for the mosquito. It is simply a reflexive action in response to a perceived threat.

3. Do all mosquitoes spin after being swatted?

No, not all mosquitoes spin after being swatted. Some may fly away or fall to the ground without spinning, while others may spin multiple times.

4. Can the spinning motion help the mosquito to escape from being swatted?

Yes, the spinning motion can help the mosquito to escape from being swatted. It can make it more difficult for the swatter to hit the mosquito again, giving the mosquito a chance to fly away.

5. How long does the spinning motion last for a mosquito?

The spinning motion usually lasts for only a few seconds before the mosquito either escapes or dies. However, in some cases, the spinning motion may continue for longer if the mosquito is not able to escape or is repeatedly swatted.

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