Friday, May 6, 2011

Tiger Moths Are Ultrasonic Warriors
This is Bertholdia trigona, a species of tiger moth, and he is an ultrasonic warrior.

I know, moths are supposed to just flutter mindlessly around streetlights before wandering out into the dark and being snacked on by hungry bats.

Apparently nobody told this tiger moth that, because this guy refuses to go down like that. He laughs in the face of marauding bats.

How can he be so mug? Easy, he can jam bat  sonar.
As a bat closes in on this wicked moth, it goes into echolocation overdrive and unleashes a frenzy of sound waves to better see it's intended victim.

This moth is no chump, however, and in response he unleashes an ultrasonic defense that is pure awesomeness. Using highly developed ultrasound emitters, he kicks out a whopping 450 clicks every tenth of a second the bat is attacking.

What was once a crisp moth image becomes a fuzzy blur, and the bat misses it's target.

This is amazing to me. Bat echolocation is very sophisticated, and here you have an insect with a comparably sophisticated defense against it. Insects have long been assumed to be simple creatures, ignored mostly based on their size, but it is my firm opinion that there is much more to their world than we realize. In the coming years, as more scientists probe their hidden world, I am sure even more wonders will be revealed.


  1. This is great information. Thanks for your post. I have quite a lot of moth photo collections including Actias maenas which i think the most pretty one that i ever discovered. But i don't have much info and knowledge about moth so your post did help me to develop some knowledge about moth.

  2. Cool info..I've photographed several of this specie and never realized how sophisticated the moths actually are..the ones found in the jungle usually are more striking in colors and pattern..