Hawk moths use their genitals to jam bats’ sonar.

When we think of sonar jamming we picture a modern day military tactic, yet hawk moths have long been using the same strategy in order to also counteract the radar of their enemies as well. Bats rely on ultrasonic echolocation to see their surroundings and locate prey, hawk moths are able to recognize the bat’s sonar and respond by rubbing their genitals against their abdomens to create a responding ultrasound that is meant to startle or hinder the bat’s echolocation. Moths have a history of unique adaptation to counter predation by bats but the work by Barber showed that there are even differences within the same species between the sexes in what mechanism is used to get the same ultrasound effect. The ultrasound response by hawk moths is only used near the end of the bat attack sequence and could hint at it being a last line of defense among an arsenal of already existent antipredator adaptations.

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