Nature is full of surprises and has equipped its creatures with ingenious defense mechanisms in order for them to be able to deter predators.
One of those creatures is a species of moth, called the luna moth.
This special insect has developed a very interesting defense mechanism against its main predator, the bat.
The moth uses its long wing tips to fool the bats and often mislead them from their moth bodies.
This diversionary method was discovered by a team of researchers from the Boise State University, who used high-speed cameras in order to observe the bats that were using their special echolocation to hunt the luna moths.
The scientists discovered that as the moths, they spin their long tails, which creates a sonic signal that scrambles the echo returning to the bats. This makes the bats attack the moth’s tails, making it miss the moth body, which they aimed for.
It’s not uncommon for an animal to use a certain part of its body in order to distract the enemy, but usually, these methods visual: very colorful spots on butterfly wings that fool with the predator’s perception.
But the defense mechanism of luna moths is different because it uses a sonic method of diverting the enemy, rather than a visual one.
The new findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
According to the experts, luna moths can fly very well without the tails and their main purpose is to act as protection against the predators, rather than act as an aerodynamic help.
The researchers used more than 200 luna moths to see how their defense mechanism can help them against the bats. They clipped the moths’ wing tails off 100 of them and released the moths into an enclosed space with eight bats.
The experiment revealed that the moths that still had their tails had 50% more chances to survive the bats’ attacks, unlike the ones that didn’t have their tails.
The researchers observed that the bats went after the wing tails of the moths most of the time. The moths that had their wing tails clipped were captured and eaten by the bats much easier, the study showed.
Image Source: fcps