Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh, The Loh Down on Science is a fun way to get your daily dose of science plus a dash of humor in less than two minutes.
Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh
Airs Weekdays 2:31, 3:31 and 5:49 a.m.

The moth version of rattling sabers will make you laugh

Can your genitals save your life?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying:

They can if you're a hawkmoth!

For 65 million years, the skies have hosted an ongoing clash between moths and bats.  It's one-sided, really.  Bats try to eat moths, and surviving moths pass their tricks on to their offspring.  Like ears that can detect bats.

But the most recently identified defense still seems surprising.  A duo of biologists—one from Florida, one from Idaho—recently played recordings of bats' biosonar for moths.  And the moths went nuts.

In at least three species, all from Malaysia, males moths responded to the bat-sound by rattling scales on their genitals.  That action produced an ultrasonic, high-pitched shriek with a message:  HEY BAT!  I taste TERRIBLE!

The shriek also throws an acoustic wrench into the bat's biosonar.  The confused bat finds something else to eat, and the moth lives to flap another day.

Right when it flies headlong into a tiki torch!  Moth: zero.  Malaysians: one.  Hey, you can't win 'em all.

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The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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