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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Moths Click to Confuse Bats

Henry Fountain writes:

In the continuing battle between bats and tiger moths, score one for the tiger moths. A study shows that one moth species uses a different kind of defensive technique to avoid becoming bat fodder.

Many bats use echolocation — a type of sonar using ultrasonic pulses — to find insects and other prey. It’s long been known that tiger moths produce ultrasonic clicks of their own, and earlier studies showed that these sounds have two functions. For some moth species that are toxic to bats, the clicks warn the bats to stay away. For others, the clicks startle the bats, allowing the moths time to escape.

In a paper in Science, Aaron J. Corcoran and William E. Conner of Wake Forest University, and Jesse R. Barber of Colorado State University, show that for one tiger moth species, Bertholdia trigona, the clicks serve a third function. They keep big brown bats, which would normally dine on B. trigona, at bay by jamming their sonar.

link: Observatory - Tiger Moths Jam Bat Sonar -


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