Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Camouflage of moths: Moths actively seek out best hiding places

Date:
July 31, 2012
Source:
Laboratory of Behavioral Ecology and Evolution at Seoul National University
Summary:
Moths are iconic examples of camouflage. Their wing coloration and patterns are shaped by natural selection to match the patterns of natural substrates, such as a tree bark or leaves, on which the moths rest. But, according to recent findings, moths actively seek out the best hiding places.

Fig. 1 shows two species of moths that, according to the recent study of evolutionary biologists from Seoul, “know” how to find a spot on a tree bark to become invisible to predators: (a) – Hypomecis roboraria; (b) – Jankowskia fuscaria.

Moths are iconic examples of camouflage. Their wing coloration and patterns are shaped by natural selection to match the patterns of natural substrates, such as a tree bark or leaves, on which the moths rest. But, according to recent findings, the match in the appearance was not all in their invisibility.

Despite a long history of research on these iconic insects, whether moths behave in a way to increase their invisibility has not been determined. A research team from the Laboratory of Behavioral Ecology and Evolution at the Seoul National University has conducted an experiment to directly answer this question. Chang-ku Kang, Jong-yeol Moon, Sang-im Lee and Piotr Jablonski have found out that moths walk on the tree bark until they settle down to rest; the insects seem to actively search for a place and a body position that makes them practically invisible.

Instead of placing moth specimens on a tree bark in various positions to see how body orientation of moths make them invisible to birds, which has been done by several researchers, "we let the moths to do the job for us" says Changku Kang, the PhD student who conducted the experiment. The researchers let inchworm moths of two species (Jankowskia fuscaria and Hypomycis roboraria) land on tree bark and freely choose the final resting spot and body orientation. Many moths did not remain at the spot of landing. They walked around with stretched wings as if they were looking for that one perfect spot that may make them invisible to predators.

To determine whether this final spot indeed made the moth really invisible, the researchers photographed each moth at its landing spot (initial spot) and at the final spot at which the moth decided to rest. Next, the researchers asked people to try to locate the moth from the photograph as quickly as possible. People had more difficulty finding the moths at their final spots than the same moths at their initial landing spots.

Amazingly, this was even true for the species (Hypomecis roboraria) that only changed its resting spot on the tree bark without changing its body orientation. Therefore, the researchers concluded, that moths seems to actively choose the spot that makes them invisible to predators. How do they know how to become invisible? The research team is now trying to answer this question as the next step.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Laboratory of Behavioral Ecology and Evolution at Seoul National University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. C.-K. Kang, J.-Y. Moon, S.-I. Lee, P. G. Jablonski. Camouflage through an active choice of a resting spot and body orientation in moths. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 2012; DOI: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2012.02557.x

Cite This Page:

Laboratory of Behavioral Ecology and Evolution at Seoul National University. "Camouflage of moths: Moths actively seek out best hiding places." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120731123521.htm>.
Laboratory of Behavioral Ecology and Evolution at Seoul National University. (2012, July 31). Camouflage of moths: Moths actively seek out best hiding places. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 14, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120731123521.htm
Laboratory of Behavioral Ecology and Evolution at Seoul National University. "Camouflage of moths: Moths actively seek out best hiding places." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120731123521.htm (accessed September 14, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) — New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) — A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — New research has shown that the Spinosaurus, the largest carnivorous dinosaur, might have been just as well suited for life in the water as on land. 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