As reported by Starkville Daily News, biology professor Brandon Barton of Mississippi State University conducted an experiment involving ladybugs and the music from various different rock and metal bands. The idea was to test the impact of music on ecosystems. But the initial inspiration for this came to professor Barton after listening to AC/DC. He said:
“I was listening to AC/DC, and I heard the song, and I thought to myself ‘Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution,’ that’s a testable hypothesis. The alternative hypothesis is that rock and roll is noise pollution.”
The experiment saw Barton and his students working with Asian lady beetles, or ladybugs, and testing how they respond to different sounds. The ladybugs were placed on isolated soybeans infested with different aphids. As some of you may know, ladybugs prey on aphids and can even be used as a form of pest control.
For the purpose of this research, the professor used music by AC/DC, Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. One group of ladybugs got the chance to listen to “Wanted! The Outlaws” album, featuring country legends like Willie Nelson, Jessi Colter, Waylon Jennings, and Tompall Glasser. Two more groups of ladybugs were also involved – one exposed to the music of Warble Fly (a British folk band) and the other to constant sounds of city environments.
And what were the results? Ladybugs exposed to rock music and city sounds ate fewer aphids. Drastically fewer. The professor stated:
“We immediately discovered that after about a day or a half day, 15 hours or so, the ones who had been exposed to the hard rock music, AC/DC, or even the city sounds, those loud kind of harsh sounds really reduced the number of aphids they consumed by a lot.
“We did that experiment. We put the plants in the chambers by themselves. We put the plants in chambers with aphids on them by themselves. When we did both of those experiments, the plants didn’t care and the aphids didn’t care about music.”
He also added:
“In the one with the AC/DC blasting, the predators didn’t control the aphids, and I think we ended up with something like 180 aphids per plant on average. That many aphids on one plant is enough to actually hurt the plant, so we saw a reduction in the plant biomass. The AC/DC indirectly reduced soybean production.
“That noise must simulate a predator or some other disturbance in the environment, so they stop feeding and maybe spend more time watching for predators, but it could also be that the music just makes it harder to catch an aphid.”