Scientists blare Rush Limbaugh show at beetles to stop deforestation

Researchers at Northern Arizona University blared the Rush Limbaugh show at pine beetles to discourage them from eating trees.

Jake Turcotte
How to stop bugs from eating trees? Researchers at Northern Arizona University blared the Rush Limbaugh show at them. The experiment failed.

The most annoying sound in the world? Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels may have nailed it in the theatrical masterpiece, "Dumb and Dumber," but researchers at Northern Arizona University (NAU) think Rush Limbaugh wins that honor.

What's that have to do with anything? Oh, just science.

Some researchers at NAU don't like Limbaugh. And they theorized that bugs don't like him either. Specifically, pine bark beetles – insects that are being blamed for the destruction of millions of trees in the Rocky Mountain West.

So, the researchers theorized that by forcing the bugs to listen to Limbaugh they would become so upset they would exit the trees thereby ending the destruction. It's somewhat similar to when the US military blared Guns 'n Roses to force Manuel Noriega's exit from the Vatican Embassy in 1989.

How'd they decide on Limbaugh?

"I started thinking what's the most annoying sound I could think of and it was Rush Limbaugh's voice," said Reagan McGuire, a truck driver turned research assistant at NAU.

Hard to argue with that scientific assessment.

How'd it work out? It didn't.

Richard Hofstetter, an entomology professor at NAU, told Discovery News that Limbaugh's voice bothered the beetles initially but "mostly ignored the sounds after a while."

Perhaps taking a queue from the military, they tried blaring Guns 'n Roses too at the bugs, but that didn't work either.

What did work? Playing sounds of the beetles themselves back at them. Then it gets ugly.

“We observed and recorded beetles mating two or three times," Hofstetter said. "Then we’d play the beetle sounds that we manipulated and watch in horror as the male beetle would tear the female apart. This is not normal behavior in the natural world.”

Maybe they should try forcing the beetles to watch Keith Olbermann's show. After all, his ratings prove he's a master at driving viewers away.


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