We have heard of the space arms race or nuclear arms race. It seems we are always try to one-up other countries to be the best or the first to achieve something. It appears that we are not alone in this sort of competition.
This same sort of one-upping competition can be seen in nature as well. For the longest time I am sure that bats thought they ruled the roost (or at least the night sky). Bats are able to use echolocation (same as dolphins) to be able to hunt their prey at night. By emitting ultra-sonic sounds bats are able to create a picture of the night sky by the reflections of these sounds. This is the same principle the military uses to detect enemy planes or submarines (it is a sonar). In an event to show up the poor little bat (well, I guess it is really in an event to survive) the tiger moth evolved a technique that will actually jam the sonar of the bat.
Try to picture this, the hungry little bat is cruising the night sky emitting these numerous high pitch sounds to create a mental picture of the surroundings. The sound bounces back and shows the bat an image of a tasty moth. Thinking it is his lucky day, the bat swoops in for the kill. Just as the bat swoops though, the sneaky little tiger moth starts emitting numerous ultrasonic clicks (about 450 clicks in a tenth of a second). At this point, the bat no longer has a clear image of the night sky and can’t see its prey. It is as if something turned its etch-a-sketch upside down, the picture disappears. Studies have shown that 85% of the time, the bat would be unsuccessful in capturing a sonar jamming moth. I am assuming that the bat will now need to evolve some sort of tiger moth sonar jamming, jammer or just eat other moths that aren’t as successful in escaping their predator.
Check out the video below to see the tiger moth at work.