Predator vs. Prey: Tiger Moth vs. Bat

By | August 1, 2012
From Xplor: August/September 2012

The struggle to survive isn't always a fair fight. Here's what separates nature's winners from its losers.


When a bat lets loose a blast of sound, its ears close for a split second. Otherwise, the squeaks are so loud, they could temporarily deafen the bat.

Flavor Saver

Some tiger moths taste horrible. When these moths hear a bat, they vibrate organs on their tummies called tymbals. The tymbals make clicks to warn the bat: “Don’t eat me. I taste yucky.”

Tricky Clicks

Other tiger moths taste yummy— at least to hungry bats. To avoid becoming a midnight snack, these moths imitate the tymbal clicks of moths that taste yucky.

Sonic Sight

When hunting, a bat produces nearly 4,500 squeaks each second. The squeaks hit nearby objects and bounce back to the bat’s ears, painting a picture in the bat’s brain of its surroundings.

Built-In Bug Net

Bats bag bugs in their wing and tail membranes then pass the morsels to their mouths for an inflight snack.

Invisibility Cloak

One kind of tiger moth uses tymbal clicks to make a bat’s squeaks sound fuzzy and garbled. By jamming the bat’s sonar, this tiger moth becomes virtually invisible in total darkne

And the winner is...

Who knew the night sky was so noisy? In the sonic battle between bat and bug, tymbals give tiger moths the upper hand—uh, wing.


And More...

This Issue's Staff

David Besenger
Bonnie Chasteen
Chris Cloyd
Peg Craft
Brett Dufur
Les Fortenberry
Chris Haefke
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Kevin Lanahan
Kevin Muenks
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
Tim Smith
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White
Kipp Woods