Image of the Day: Acoustic Camouflage
Image of the Day: Acoustic Camouflage

Image of the Day: Acoustic Camouflage

Moths’ scales vibrate in the frequency range of bats’ echolocation calls, perhaps helping the insects to avoid predation.

kerry grens
Kerry Grens

Kerry served as The Scientist’s news director until 2021. Before joining The Scientist in 2013, she was a stringer for Reuters Health, the senior health and science reporter at...

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Nov 14, 2018

ABOVE: 3-D X-ray computed tomography of a scale on the surface of the forewing of the cabbage tree emperor moth (Bunaea alcinoe)
IMAGE COURTESY OF MARC W. HOLDERIED AND ZHIYUAN SHEN

The “vibrodynamics” of moths’ wings might help the animals to evade bats’ echolocation, according to an analysis of the nanostructure of the wings’ scales published in PNAS on Monday (November 12). The authors made a computer model of the scales from electron microscopy images of cabbage tree emperor moth (Bunaea alcinoe) forewings. The model reveals that the scales vibrate in the frequency range of bats’ echolocation calls, thereby potentially absorbing the predators’ sound and helping the moths avoid detection.

Cabbage tree emperor moth (Bunaea alcinoe)
Image courtesy of Thomas R. Neil

Z. Shen et al., “Biomechanics of moth scales at ultrasonic frequencies,” PNAS, doi:10.1073/pnas.1810025115, 2018.

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Image of the Day: Acoustic Camouflage

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