Clicking noises released by the tiger moth interfere with predatory bat sonar signals by distorting the echo signature.

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Tiger moths are common prey for bats, which use sonar (echolocation) vibrations to locate them; the bats rely on sonar echoes bouncing off of a prey’s body to determine its position. In addition to flight, tiger moths have developed another mechanism to avoid being eaten: sonar jamming. When a tiger moth detects a sonar signal, it releases a series of ultrasonic clicks that mix with the echoing signals the bat requires to locate it.

Moths are able to effectively distinguish between false and actual predatory threats based on the pulse interval and intensity of the bat’s sonar.

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References

“…moths reliably began their jamming defense in response to cues that indicated they had recently been detected and targeted… Moths did not click in response to several bats that flew within the distance expected to excite a response… Acoustic features of bat calls were highly accurate at predicting whether moths clicked (Approx. 95%), and even more so than bat flight characteristics. Therefore it appears that these bats did not direct their sonar beams at the moths, and the moths correctly ignored false threats.” (Corcoran et al. 2013:10-11)

Journal article
Optimal Predator Risk Assessment by the Sonar-Jamming Arctiine Moth Bertholdia trigonaPLoS ONEMay 6, 2013
Aaron J. Corcoran, Ryan D. Wagner, William E. Conner
Editor/s: John Morgan Ratcliffe

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Organism
Grote's Bertholdia MothBertholdia trigonaSpecies


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