Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Moths Mimic Sounds To Survive

Date:
May 30, 2007
Source:
Wake Forest University
Summary:
In a night sky filled with hungry bats, good-tasting moths increase their chances of survival by mimicking the sounds of their bad-tasting cousins, according to a new study. This is the first research to definitively show how an animal species uses acoustic mimicry as a defensive strategy.

Image of bat and moth taken with high-speed infrared camera.
Credit: Image courtesy of Wake Forest University

The research was conducted by Jesse Barber, a doctoral student in biology at Wake Forest. William E. Conner, professor of biology at Wake Forest, co-authored the study.

est University study. This is the first study to definitively show how an animal species uses acoustic mimicry as a defensive strategy.

The research was conducted by Jesse Barber, a doctoral student in biology at Wake Forest. William E. Conner, professor of biology at Wake Forest, co-authored the study.

In response to the sonar that bats use to locate prey, the tiger moths make ultrasonic clicks of their own. They broadcast the clicks from a paired set of structures called “tymbals.” Many species of tiger moth use the tymbals to make specific sounds that warn the bat of their bad taste. Other species make sounds that closely mimic those high-frequency sounds.

“We found that the bats do not eat the good-tasting moths that make the similar sounds,” said Barber, who has worked on this research for four years.

In the study, other types of moths that were similar in size to the sound-emitting moths, but did not make sounds, were gobbled up by the bats.
The researcher trained free-flying bats to hunt moths in view of two high-speed infrared video cameras to record predator-prey interactions that occur in fractions of a second. He also recorded the sounds emitted from each moth, as well as the sounds made by the bats.

All the bats quickly learned to avoid the noxious moths first offered to them, associating the warning sounds with bad taste. They then avoided a second sound-producing species even though it was not chemically protected. This is similar to the way birds avoid butterflies that look like the bad-tasting Monarch.

The two species of bats used were big brown bats and red bats. Barber raised the bats in the lab so behavior learned in the wild would not influence the results of the experiment.

Barber said anecdotal observations have suggested that animals such as snakes, owls and bees use acoustic mimicry. This study takes the next step and provides the definitive experimental evidence for how mimicking sounds helps an animal survive.

This research is to be published in the May 29 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wake Forest University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Wake Forest University. "Moths Mimic Sounds To Survive." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 May 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070529211003.htm>.
Wake Forest University. (2007, May 30). Moths Mimic Sounds To Survive. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070529211003.htm
Wake Forest University. "Moths Mimic Sounds To Survive." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070529211003.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Scientists have developed a new device that mimics the way octopuses blend in with their surroundings to hide from dangerous predators. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) Malaysia's last "fish listeners" -- practitioners of a dying local art of listening underwater to locate their quarry -- try to keep the ancient technique alive in the face of industrial trawling and the depletion of stocks. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
USDA Cracks Down On Imports From Foreign Puppy Mills

USDA Cracks Down On Imports From Foreign Puppy Mills

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) New USDA measures to regulate dog imports aim to crack down on buying dogs from overseas puppy mills. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bone Marrow Drug Regrows Hair In Some Alopecia Patients

Bone Marrow Drug Regrows Hair In Some Alopecia Patients

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) Researchers performed an experiment using an FDA-approved drug known as ruxolitinib. They found it to be successful in the majority of patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins