Researchers at the University of Bristol in the UK have again made an intriguing discovery.  This time, the team studied silkworm moths to uncover their ability to throw hungry predator bats off their trail.

Silkmoth
Photo 140237557 / Silkmoth © Tom Meaker | Dreamstime.com

An acoustic decoy mechanism involving elongated hindwings on some silkmoths is well known among the folks who know about such things.  (I am not part of that esteemed group, by the way.)  The twisted shape of these wings creates strong echoes, consequently misdirecting the bats.  However, not all silkmoths have these structural features. 

The team wanted to understand if there were other acoustic mechanisms at work.  Using specialized tools, they recorded and analyzed thousands of echoes that were created by bouncing sound waves off of the moths at different angles.  The analysis revealed that some moths have a forewing reflector that also acts as an acoustic decoy.   This is a newly described mechanism.  The team also believes that no species have both types of decoys. 

The team’s next step will be to study the relative advantages that each type of decoy offers the moths.

To learn more about this research, reference the press release here:  https://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2021/september/moth-wingtips.html

@drtomneil  @BristolBioSci

 

D 204656644 © Gerald D. Tang | Dreamstime.com

If you live along the West Coast of North America, you may have seen a common wildflower called the Western False Asphodel (Triantha occidentalis).  This plant was originally described in the late 1870s.  Given its considerable distribution and how long people have known about the plant, it’s surprising that until recently, it still harbored a secret. 

Botanists from the University of British Columbia discovered that this plant is carnivorous.  One feature that makes this plant unique is that it traps insects near its insect-pollinated flowers.  

This is the first carnivorous plant to be identified in 20 years. 

You can read more about the science behind this discovery here:  https://news.ubc.ca/2021/08/09/insects-beware-this-west-coast-plant-wants-to-eat-you/

@ubcnews

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