Last week I wrote about hawkmoths. Over lunch one day, I was telling my six-year-old granddaughter about them, and she excitedly informed me that they give off sonar blasts. Her enthusiastic announcement nearly blasted me off my chair and I had to investigate this further.
Sure enough, she was correct.
Some hawkmoths do give off sonar blasts possibly to jam the echolocation of bats, their main predators. Not only do the moths send out these blasts (or clicks) but they create them by rubbing their genitals against their abdomens!
Bats find their prey by emitting sonar blasts (or “chirps”) which bounce off the prey item and echoes back to the bat (called echolocation). These chirps are largely inaudible to humans.
Recent research discovered three hawkmoth species that give off sonar blasts. Whether the moth sonar (chirps) directly interfere with the bat’s echolocation is not yet known for sure.
What is clear is that the moths can detect the bat’s chirps and can send their own back to confuse the bats.
Most of the bats we have around here are harmless Little Brown Bats, the most common bat in B.C. They consume huge amounts of insects each night including mosquitoes. By consuming so many they help to control potential damage caused by some of these ‘bugs.’ So, we should consider them as our friends.
However, throughout history, bats have been misunderstood and demonized as being scary, evil-spirited, dirty, germ-carrying beasts, that get tangled in your hair, give you rabies, or suck your blood.
However, out of over 850 species in the world, there are only three species that drink blood and they are found in Central and South America.
Most of our species can bite and transmission of rabies is a problem in some parts of Canada.
Many tropical bats eat fruits and are important for seed dispersal. Others feed on nectar and are important pollinators. Some even eat frogs or fish and even other bats.