Moths Survive Bat Predation through Acoustic Camouflage Fur

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 08 November 2018


Why are Some Insects Furry?

Moths survive bat predation through acoustic camouflage fur,
Acoustical Society of America, November 6, 2018.


Bat Food
“Moths are a mainstay food source for bats, which use echolocation (biological sonar) to hunt their prey.”

Moth Stealth Coating
“...some moths have evolved ears that detect the ultrasonic calls of bats, many types of moths remain deaf. In those moths, Neil has found that the insects developed types of "stealth coating" that serve as acoustic camouflage to evade hungry bats.”

38% Survival Advantage
"The thorax fur of moths acts as a lightweight porous sound absorber, facilitating acoustic camouflage and offering a significant survival advantage against bats." Removing the fur from the moth's thorax increased its detection risk by as much as 38 percent.”

But Not the Butterflies…
“...found that thoracic fur determines acoustic camouflage of moths but not butterflies.”

"We found that the fur on moths was both thicker and denser than that of the butterflies, and these parameters seem to be linked with the absorptive performance of their respective furs," Neil said. "The thorax fur of the moths was able to absorb up to 85 percent of the impinging sound energy. The maximum absorption we found in butterflies was just 20 percent."


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