|Giant Leopard Moth|
Larry Whiteley brought this Bass Pro special today. Fortunately he he had found a uniquely colored moth with an interesting story. The Giant Leopard Moth, Hypercompe scribonia, is very distinctive with dramatic dark ovals and circles on its dorsal forewings resembling a leopard's spots. This specimen was long dead so I livened it up on a floral arrangement.
|Caterpillar Defensive Position- Wikimedia|
Tiger Moths have a unique defense against bats, a formidable predator during their nocturnal flights. They have long been known to produce ultrasonic sounds but now we know a reason why. A Discover Magazine blog describes sounds the moths emit as interfering with the echolocation system of bats. We can think of it like a fighter plane jamming a missile's radar signal. This tactic greatly reduces the bat's successful rate of moth captures.
New studies of bat echolocation from Brown University add to the wonder. They describe how a bat can isolate the echos of a small insect amidst all the echos from the environment (tree branches, leaves, wires, etc) and those of other bats. Since the attack sequence of a bat lasts less than a second, the moths have to react fast. Fortunately, the moths can produce up to 450 clicks in one-tenth of a second.