Speed Reads

Plot twist

Scientists say crickets may have been behind 'sonic attack' in Cuba

Diplomats stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Havana who said they suffered from headaches and nausea after hearing high-pitched sounds may have actually been subjected to the loud droning of the Indies short-tailed cricket, The Guardian reports.

In 2017, the U.S. government ordered several diplomats to leave Cuba, fearful that a sonic attack targeting them inside their homes and offices caused their illnesses. Scientists in the U.S. and U.K. now say crickets may be the culprit, as the mating call of the Caribbean species of the cricket is "about 7 kHz, and is delivered at an unusually high rate, which gives humans the sensation of a continuous sharp trill," Fernando Montealegre-Zapata, professor of sensory biology at the University of Lincoln, told The Guardian.

Scientists analyzed an audio recording of the noise released by The Associated Press. Montealegre-Zapata said males looking for mates make a similar noise, and he's "not surprised that this call could disturb people who are not familiar with insect sounds." This does not mean that a sonic attack never took place, scientists stress, and doctors are still trying to determine what exactly caused all of the diplomats to become ill.