Sept. 25 - A tiger moth native to the deserts of Arizona has developed a highly evolved sonar jamming system it uses to fend of attacks by hungry bats. The discovery, described in a paper published in the journal PLOS One, could have applications in the design of acoustic deterrents to protect bats from dangerous wind turbines. Rob Muir reports.
Using echolocation, a bat attacks a tiger moth, Betholdia trigona. But the moth responds with a loud defensive clicking noise. NATSOT - CLICKING The sound confuses the bat by disrupting its sonar system. It can no longer find the moth. The moth's sonar jamming system is located in its thorax, in an organ called the tymbal which can vibrate at 4500 beats per second. This is what it sounds like slowed down 30 times. NATSOT - CLICKING High speed footage shot by biologist Aaron Corcoran shows that other moth species who remain silent when under attack stand little chance of escaping the bats. Corcoran says Betholdia trigona's sonar jamming defense mechanism has possible application in the design of deterrents to protect bats from wind-turbines or tall buildings.. demonstrating, as both creatures instinctively understand, that there's more to the moth than bat food.