Show Details

Arthropod Roundup

May 24, 2013

Greater wax moths have evolved the ability to hear sounds at frequencies even their predators can’t detect.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

An audio arms race. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Some bats can hear and produce sounds as high as 200 khz–  ten times the frequency people can hear. But bats are baritones compared to the greater wax moth. Scientists report in the journal Biology Letters that these small brown moths hear sounds as high as 300 khz. It’s all part of a bat vs. moth evolutionary battle: moths listen for the echolocation calls of hungry bats, and produce calls of their own to attract mates. But they need to be high enough that bats can’t hear them.

In other news, scientists in Brazil report engineering a key protein from the venom of Loxosceles spiders—that’s the group that includes the brown recluse responsible for thousands of dangerous bites each year. The goal is to create a vaccine that would make the bites harmless. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

It may not look like much, but the greater wax moth may possess the most sensitive hearing in the animal world. (dhobern/Flickr)