Bats

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How One Moth Species Can Jam Bats’ Sonar Systems In the article How One Moth Species Can Jam Bats’ Sonar Systems by Joseph Stromberg, we learn about a species of tiger moth native to the Arizona Desert that can detect and jam bats’ sonar systems. The moth’s unique ability allows them to evade bats successfully. Bertholdia trigona, are a species of tiger moth that can jam bats sonar “ability to ‘see’ through echolocation”. A group of wildlife biologist students led by colleague Aaron Corcoran at Wake Forest University uncovered evidence of this ability in 2009. “It started with a question that has been out there for a while, since the 1960’s-why do some moths produce clicking sounds when bats attack them?” Most tiger moths emit ultrasonic clicking sounds to signal how toxic they are to bats. But Bertholdia trigona emits ten times as much sound, “indicating that it might be serving a different purpose entirely”. Aaron and colleagues collected the moths and put them in a cage with brown bats. They hypothesized that if the sounds were used for warning purposes the bats would ignore the clicks and eat the moths, but eventually learn that the moths were toxic and cease from eating them. “The bats couldn’t catch them right from the beginning” Corcoran says, “so they determined that the moths were using clicks to jam the bats’ sonar”.
Since bats have bad eyesight they use ultrasonic noises to “see” their environment. But when the moths are approached by the bats they emit “ultrasonic clicking sounds at a rate of 4,500 times per second”. The moths use this method to blanket their surroundings and hide themselves from sonar detection. “This effectively blurs the acoustic image the bat has of the moth,” Corcoran says. “It knows there’s a moth out there, but can’t quite figure out where it is.” But Corcoran and his colleagues still didn’t understand how the moths new when to activate their sounds. Corcoran’s team’s latest work shows that the moths have a built-in

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