Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A Fluttering Accordion

04.08.2015

A new study by scientists from Jena and Kiel (Germany) explains the unique sound production by Death's head hawkmoths

Their arrival used to be perceived as a bad omen: Because of their scull-like markings on their backs the Death's head hawkmoths (Acherontia atropos) were dreaded. And yet, the big moth with the dark forewings and the beige-yellow marking is unusual for more than one reason: The animals migrate annually from Africa to Europe and visit beehives from which they steal honey with their short proboscides.


3D-reconstruction of a head of a Death's head hawk moth based on computer tomograph data.

Illustration: Phyletic Museum/FSU Jena


A Death's head hawkmoth.

Photo: Gunnar Brehm/FSU Jena

If the moths are irritated, they produce series of short squeaks. Scientists from the Universities Jena and Kiel, the Ernst-Abbe-Hochschule Jena and the University Hospital Jena (all Germany) looked into their unique way of producing sounds. The results of the joint research have now been published in the sience magazine 'The Science of Nature' (DOI: 10.1007/s00114-015-1292-5).

“The Death's head hawkmoth produces its sounds in a similar way to an accordion,“ explains Dr. Gunnar Brehm, who was in charge of the research. The folded top of the moth's pharynx is pulled up by muscles. Thereby a vacuum is created, so that air is drawn in.

The air then streams in through the moth's proboscis and mouth and thus triggers the vibration of a small lobe, whereby a sound is produced. Afterwards the air is being expelled, whereby another whistling sound is produced. The inflation and deflation though happens much quicker than in an accordion – it just takes a fifth of a second.

The team of scientists looked into the production of these sounds with the help of computer tomographs, a mammography device and with high speed cameras. The pictures impressively show the inside of the head of the moth, which mainly consists of the pharynx and muscles. In addition, the moths were examined in an acoustics laboratory, where the scientists discovered that the moths create sounds that can be heard by humans as well as in the ultrasound range to over 60 kilohertz. The moth's proboscis thereby serves as the resonating body.

With their squeaks, the scientists assume, the moths are trying to scare off predators. This at least works with humans, as the zoologist Brehm notes: Those who unknowingly touch one of the moths, withdraw their hand intuitively once the moth starts to move and squeak. This could be a small, selective evolutionary advantage. “It actually makes you wonder why other moths and butterflies don't squeak, because anatomically Death's head hawkmoths are very similar to their non-squeaking relatives,“ according to Brehm.

The reason for the scientific co-operation was the current special exhibition at the Phyletic Museum of the Jena University which is titled 'Folds in Nature and Technique'. The show also points out parallels between nature and technique using the example of musical instruments. The exhibition will be running until the beginning of September in Jena.

Original Publication:
Gunnar Brehm, Martin Fischer, Stanislav Gorb, Thomas Kleinteich, Bernhard Kühn, David Neubert, Hans Pohl, Benjamin Wipfler, Susanne Wurdinger: The unique sound production of the Death’s-head hawkmoth (Acherontia atropos (Linnaeus, 1758)) revisited, The Science of Nature (Naturwissenschaften), DOI 10.1007/s00114-015-1292-5

Contact:
Dr. Gunnar Brehm
Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Institute of Systematic Zoology and Evolutionary Biology with Phyletic Museum
Vor dem Neutor 1
07743 Jena
Germany
Phone: +49 / 3641 / 949184
Email: gunnar.brehm[at]uni-jena.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.uni-jena.de/en/start.html

Axel Burchardt | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Rising water temperatures could endanger the mating of many fish species
03.07.2020 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

nachricht Moss protein corrects genetic defects of other plants
03.07.2020 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electrons in the fast lane

Solar cells based on perovskite compounds could soon make electricity generation from sunlight even more efficient and cheaper. The laboratory efficiency of these perovskite solar cells already exceeds that of the well-known silicon solar cells. An international team led by Stefan Weber from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz has found microscopic structures in perovskite crystals that can guide the charge transport in the solar cell. Clever alignment of these "electron highways" could make perovskite solar cells even more powerful.

Solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. During this process, the electrons of the material inside the cell absorb the energy of the light....

Im Focus: The lightest electromagnetic shielding material in the world

Empa researchers have succeeded in applying aerogels to microelectronics: Aerogels based on cellulose nanofibers can effectively shield electromagnetic radiation over a wide frequency range – and they are unrivalled in terms of weight.

Electric motors and electronic devices generate electromagnetic fields that sometimes have to be shielded in order not to affect neighboring electronic...

Im Focus: Gentle wall contact – the right scenario for a fusion power plant

Quasi-continuous power exhaust developed as a wall-friendly method on ASDEX Upgrade

A promising operating mode for the plasma of a future power plant has been developed at the ASDEX Upgrade fusion device at Max Planck Institute for Plasma...

Im Focus: ILA Goes Digital – Automation & Production Technology for Adaptable Aircraft Production

Live event – July 1, 2020 - 11:00 to 11:45 (CET)
"Automation in Aerospace Industry @ Fraunhofer IFAM"

The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM l Stade is presenting its forward-looking R&D portfolio for the first time at...

Im Focus: AI monitoring of laser welding processes - X-ray vision and eavesdropping ensure quality

With an X-ray experiment at the European Synchrotron ESRF in Grenoble (France), Empa researchers were able to demonstrate how well their real-time acoustic monitoring of laser weld seams works. With almost 90 percent reliability, they detected the formation of unwanted pores that impair the quality of weld seams. Thanks to a special evaluation method based on artificial intelligence (AI), the detection process is completed in just 70 milliseconds.

Laser welding is a process suitable for joining metals and thermoplastics. It has become particularly well established in highly automated production, for...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International conference QuApps shows status quo of quantum technology

02.07.2020 | Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium AWK'21 will take place on June 10 and 11, 2021

07.04.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rising water temperatures could endanger the mating of many fish species

03.07.2020 | Life Sciences

Risk of infection with COVID-19 from singing: First results of aerosol study with the Bavarian Radio Chorus

03.07.2020 | Studies and Analyses

Efficient, Economical and Aesthetic: Researchers Build Electrodes from Leaves

03.07.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>