Monday, December 18, 2006

How Not To Be Eaten By A Bat

Batgirl © DC Comics (image)

The Yellow Underwing moth changes its sensitivity to a bat's calls when the moth is being chased. And in case there is another attack, the moth's ear remains tuned in for several minutes after the calls stop.

"To date, this phenomenon has not been reported for insects or, in fact, for any other hearing system in the animal kingdom. These findings change our understanding of the co-evolution of bats and moths and have implications for the hearing of many other animals."

It appears that even though moth ears are among the simplest in the insect world – they have only two or four vibration sensitive cells attached to a small eardrum – moths are not as deaf as previously thought.

As a bat gets closer to the moth, both the loudness and frequency (pitch) of the bat's calls increase. Surprisingly, the sensitivity of the moth's ear to the bat's calls also increases. This occurs because the moth's ear dynamically becomes more sensitive to the frequencies that many bats use when attacking moths. link

Keeping up with Bats: Dynamic Auditory Tuning in a Moth

Batgirl's on the case!