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Small Business Stand Up and Be Heard: The Loudest Insect On Earth Is Tiny!

Insects are like small businesses and tiny charities – they may be small in size, but can deliver a powerful message.

Consider the Walker's cicada (Neotibicen pronotalis), the loudest insect on earth. Males of the species can belt out an alarm call measuring 105.9 decibels - louder than the sound of a jackhammer operating from fifteen meters away. The male Walker's cicada, found in the North America, sings to attract females. A male of the species sing out to females using small tymbals on its rear abdomen. Tymbals are like ribs on the cicada's exoskeleton. The cicada contracts and relaxes its abdominal muscles to produce a series of clicks. The male cicada's abdomen is largely empty, acting like a sound box, similar to the empty sound box of a guitar.

Listen to a Walker's Cicada (Neotibicen pronotalis) in the video below.


The Walker's cicada is loud, but the water boatman insect delivers the most powerful call relative to its body size. The water boatman insect is the world's loudest animal relative to its body size, according to a 2011 study published in the Public Library of Science. The water boatman (Micronecta scholtzi) are freshwater insects measuring 2 millimeters and may commonly be found in ponds and rivers in Europe. These tiny insects, the size of the width of a grain of rice, produce high decibel mating calls. 

See the enlarged photo of a water boatman (Micronecta scholtzi) below.

Water boatman (Micronecta scholtzi)

Water boatman male insects produce an extremely loud courtship song. The song was recorded by researchers at noise levels up to 99.2 decibels, a significant volume considering the size of this tiny insect. Its decibel volume power is comparable to the sound of a passing freight train.

The water boatman produces its sound while underwater, so much of the power is lost in the transition from water medium to air medium. Even so, the water boatman courtship song is audible to humans from the bank of a pond or a river.

The lesson for a small business or a small charity: one does not need to be big to attract others. For its size, the tiny water boatman insect produces an extremely powerful courtship song.

How does your small business court potential clients?

A small business that tells its story well, and that delivers a high impact message to potential clients, attracts customers.

What is your business doing to craft a powerful message that resonates with others, to deliver its message to the right people, and to win new customers?

When was the last time your business delivered a powerful message with a punch?

 Mark Johnson leads Big Spark Media, delivering powerful messages for businesses and charities.

Article references:

Neotibicen pronotalis (Wikipedia)

Cicada (Wikipedia)

Neotibicen pronotalis walkeri Metcalf, 1955 (formerly Tibicen marginalis, Tibicen pronotalis walkeri) (Cicada Mania)

Neotibicen pronotalis singing (file 2013 08 06 065) (YouTube)

Public Library of Science
So Small, So Loud: Extremely High Sound Pressure Level from a Pygmy Aquatic Insect (Corixidae, Micronectinae).
Sueur J, Mackie D, Windmill JFC (2011) So Small, So Loud: Extremely High Sound Pressure Level from a Pygmy Aquatic Insect (Corixidae, Micronectinae). PLoS ONE 6(6): e21089. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021089

Micronecta_scholtzi (Wikipedia)

Occupational noise exposure (OSHA)

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