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Wales Online
Wales Online
Nathan Bevan

Iolo Williams leaves Winterwatch fans shocked by revealing how 'world's loudest insect' makes its mating call

TV wildlife presenter Iolo Williams left Winterwatch fans open-mouthed as he explained how the "world's loudest insect" makes its mating call. The nature veteran even pulled out a wooden percussion instrument to explain the water boatman's bizarre method for attracting the opposite sex with a process known as stridulation.

The 60-year-old ornithologist from Builth Wells began by asking Gillan Burke, his co-presenter on the popular BBC show: "Did you know that for its size the water boatman is the loudest creature in the whole world? It can emit a sound of up to 99.2 decibels.

"That's like you and me sitting in front row of a theatre listening to a full orchestra. We'd be blasted away."

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Iolo then went on to demonstrate just how stridulation – the act of producing sound by rubbing together certain body parts – is performed by these tiny freshwater invertebrates. "Do you know how they do that?" he asked Gillian who replied: " I don't, but I suspect you're going to show me."

Iolo then proceeded to explain how the creature – common in ponds, ditches, and canals across the UK – makes a chirping noise by "rubbing its penis along a series of ridges on its abdomen". He added: "It's remarkable and that noise is all about attracting the opposite sex."

A lesser water boatman (BBC)

Naturally viewers took to social media straightaway to share the moment. "Top marks to Gillian for a straight face while Iolo demonstrated how a water boatman generates sound by rubbing its penis on its belly," tweeted one. "Gillian left speechless by the stridulation explanation," posted another while a third added: "'The word 'stridulation' sounds even better with a Welsh accent."

One fan also joked about it being "before the 9pm watershed" while someone else tweeted: "I absolutely love #Winterwatch and am a self-confessed nature geek. But to see Iolo Williams role playing the act of stridulation is a giggly joy. Eat your heart out Love Island."


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