Local Indies Cricket Behind Cuban ‘Sonic Attacks’: Scientists

The mysterious sonic attacks against Canadian and U.S. diplomats in 2016 were likely caused by lovelorn Indies crickets, scientists said at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology.

In September 2017 the U.S. government decided to drastically reduce its staff in the Caribbean island after 24 diplomats reported concussion-like symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, difficulties in sleeping, and lack of balance.

In a recent interview with the New York Times, Alexander Stubbs, a researcher at the University of California said, “There’s plenty of debate in the medical community over what, if any, physical damage there is to these individuals. All I can say fairly definitively is that the A.P.-released recording is of a cricket, and we think we know what species it is.”

Native to the Florida Keys, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, the Indies short-tailed cricket’s mating call is quite similar to those presented in the recording and a related species can be found in parts of Cuba.

“They’re incredibly loud. You can hear them from inside a diesel truck going forty miles an hour on the highway,” the scientist said.

Together with his colleague, Fernando Montealegre-Z, a professor at the University of Lincoln, Stubbs confirmed that the mating call, “matches, in nuanced detail, the A.P. recording in duration, pulse repetition rate, power spectrum, pulse rate stability, and oscillations per pulse.”

Although the rhythm is more frantic and the pitch is slightly higher in the recording, the pair of scientists say the differences can be attributed to the microphone’s poor quality or the room’s acoustics.

Allegations of sonar attacks, microwaves, drones, and other science-fiction hypotheses have been dismissed by investigators and denounced by the Cuban government. Diplomats may have become sick through some other completely unrelated incident and, growing hysteric initiated an international witch hunt.

Gerald Pollack, an entomologist from McGill University who specializes in insect communication, said, “It all seems to make sense. It’s a pretty well supported hypothesis.”

In late 2017, Cuban scientists suggested the crickets may have been behind the audio recording, however, the idea was quickly rejected by Washington and its investigators.


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