Menu

Image of the Day: Fire Alarm

Bats use both echolocation and vision to avoid eating unpleasant fireflies.

Aug 24, 2018
Sukanya Charuchandra

ABOVE: Firefly (Photinus pyralis)
DR. STEPHEN MARSHALL

Bats avoid fireflies based on their bioluminescence and movements, according to a study published August 22 in Science Advances. Previously, researchers thought fireflies used light only for the purposes of attracting mates.

Researchers forced interactions between the glowing insects and bats that were unaccustomed to the fireflies. The bats initially consumed the bugs, but over time they learned to avoid them. 

A bat first pursues a palatable scarab beetle (Callistethus marginatus) in flight, which it subsequently ingests. In the second interaction a bat captures then drops a firefly (Photinus pyralis). Finally, after several subsequent firefly interactions, a bat approaches and avoids another firefly.
BARBER LAB, BOISE STATE UNIVERSITY

After the researchers obscured the glowing bits of the fireflies with paint, the bats ate the insects, indicating that bioluminescence was a warning sign. In another experiment, the researchers found that bats did not avoid eating tethered and glowing fireflies to the same extent as they when the insects were free-flying, suggesting that movement was another deterrant. 

B.C. Leavell et al., “Fireflies thwart bat attack with multisensory warnings,” Sci Adv, doi:10.1126/sciadv.aat6601, 2018.

February 2019

Big Storms Brewing

Can forests weather more major hurricanes?

Marketplace

Sponsored Product Updates

Bio-Rad Showcases New Automation Features of its ZE5 Cell Analyzer at SLAS 2019
Bio-Rad Showcases New Automation Features of its ZE5 Cell Analyzer at SLAS 2019
Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: BIO and BIOb) today showcases new automation features of its ZE5 Cell Analyzer during the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening 2019 International Conference and Exhibition (SLAS) in Washington, D.C., February 2–6. These capabilities enable the ZE5 to be used for high-throughput flow cytometry in biomarker discovery and phenotypic screening.
Andrew Alliance and Sartorius Collaborate to Provide Software-Connected Pipettes for Life Science Research
Andrew Alliance and Sartorius Collaborate to Provide Software-Connected Pipettes for Life Science Research
Researchers to benefit from an innovative software-connected pipetting system, bringing improved reproducibility and traceability of experiments to life-science laboratories.
Corning Life Sciences to Feature 3D Cell Culture Technologies at SLAS 2019
Corning Life Sciences to Feature 3D Cell Culture Technologies at SLAS 2019
Corning Incorporated (NYSE: GLW) will showcase advanced 3D cell culture technologies and workflow solutions for spheroids, organoids, tissue models, and applications including ADME/toxicology at the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) conference, Feb. 2-6 in Washington, D.C.
Corning Introduces New 1536-well Spheroid Microplate
Corning Introduces New 1536-well Spheroid Microplate
High-throughput spheroid microplate benefits cancer research, drug screening