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Moths use ‘stealth wings’ to dampen bat sonar

In the dark, deadly dance between many nocturnal predator-prey pairs, sound is sacred. Cabbage tree emperor moths (Bunaea alcinoe) may have evolved tiny, fuzzy, sound-muffling wing scales to dampen the sound waves bats fire at prey to pinpoint their place in the darkness, NOVA Next reports. When exposed to sound waves at the same frequency as bat sonar, the moth’s scales were able to convert most of the incoming sound into movement by vibrating, effectively stopping the waves from bouncing back to the bats’ ears, the researchers report today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Next, the researchers hope to see whether any other moth species use this acoustic invisibility cloak to evade hungry bats.

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