A new research found that moths escape from bats by spinning the tail. The research showed that luna moths spin their trailing hindtails as they fly, confusing the sonar cries bats use to detect prey and other objects.
The collaborative work between University of Florida and Boise State University researchers was a first step in determining why bats are lured into striking a false target.
The findings could have implications on sonar development for the military, said Akito Kawahara, assistant curator of Lepidoptera at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus.
Luna moths with tails were 47 percent more likely to survive an attack than moths without tails. Bats targeted the tail during 55 percent of the interactions, suggesting the moths may lure bats to the tails to make an attack more survivable.
While more than half of the 140,000 species of nocturnal moths have sonar-detecting ears that provide a similar level of protection, more than 65,000 species lack this defense.
The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.