A question regarding Hawk moths

Roger C. KENDRICK kendrick at hkusua.hku.hk
Wed Apr 1 15:15:29 EST 1998

jmarsano at worldnet.att.net wrote:
> I have a question about Hawk moths.  I recently read in
> Gilbert Waldbauer's _Insects through the seasons_
> that it has been hypothesized that some species of
> Hawk moth might have developed a 'jamming' technique
> to defeat the echolocation clicks of predator bats.
> This book was published in '96 and I'm wondering if
> any experimental results since confirm or negate this
> hypothesis.  Has anyone here heard about it?
It is well known in tiger moths (Arctiidae), e.g. Arctia caja, but I've
not knowingly heard about the jamming of bat echolocation sonar by

> If true, do you think that this 'active' jamming
> (whereby the moth is emitting sound) would be more
> energy-intensive than an evolutionary strategy which
> covered the moth in sound-absorbing 'baffles?  This
> might not be a correct analogy, but we use 'passive'
> design techniques to cloak submarines, ships, and
> aircraft from surveillance and tracking radar and sonar.
> (Soviet submarines, for example, were protected from
> active 'pinging' sonar, by being covered with anechoic
> rubber tiles.  Or at least that was the idea.  I've never read
> in any authoritative source that they were effective, or
> useless.)
I'd guess that having lots of dense scales on the body (as most
Sphingidae do) _may_ help deflect sound waves away from the source, but
this is pure conjecture. Baffles -  in the sense of those used to absorb
sound in quiet rooms (such as some recording studios) - would probably
render a moth aerodynamically inefficient.

Anyone else have any ideas?

Roger C. KENDRICK   B.Sc.(Hons.)
PhD student & Demonstrator, Dept of Ecology & Biodiversity
The University of Hong Kong
mailto:kendrick at hkusua.hku.hk
http://web.hku.hk/~kendrick/hkmoth.htm   + Hong Kong Moths ;
http://www.geocities.com/RainForest/Canopy/1085/   + H.K. Lepidoptera
Group ;
mail: Kadoorie Agricultural Research Centre
      The University of Hong Kong
      Lam Kam Road, Shek Kong,
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      Hong Kong
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