Research suggests bats buzz like hornets to scare off owls

Greater mouse-eared bats are preyed upon by owls, however the owls themselves possible keep away from hornets, for worry of getting stung. New analysis means that the bats benefit from this truth, by buzzing like hornets to maintain owls at bay.

The examine is being led by Assoc. Prof. Danilo Russo, of Italy’s University of Naples Federico II.

Several years in the past, he seen that when he was dealing with larger mouse-eared bats that had been caught in mist nets, these bats produced a hornet-like buzzing sound. At the time, Russo and colleagues weren’t positive of the aim of the behaviour. They questioned if it may need been a technique of transmitting a warning to different bats within the colony, though additionally they suspected that it could possibly be a method of scaring off predators.

More not too long ago the group put the latter concept to the check, utilizing 16 captive grownup owls. These consisted of eight barn owls and eight tawny owls – 4 of every species had been caught within the wild, whereas the opposite 4 of every had been raised in captivity.

In a lab setting, 4 audio recordings had been performed again to the owls. These recordings included buzzing noises made by larger mouse-eared bats, honeybees and hornets, together with a non-buzzing sound made by the bats.

It was noticed that the owls tended to maneuver away from the speaker when all of the buzzing sounds had been emitted, but they moved nearer within the case of the non-buzzing bat noises. This was notably true of the wild-caught owls, which might have had extra expertise searching down bats and being stung by hornets.

Although Russo has no data to prove that owls get stung by hornets, he believes that is is very likely, as birds in general avoid nesting near or investigating hornet nests

Although Russo has no information to show that owls get stung by hornets, he believes that’s may be very possible, as birds on the whole keep away from nesting close to or investigating hornet nests


According to Russo, that is the primary identified case of a mammal using acoustic Batesian mimicry, during which a innocent species evades predators my mimicking the sound of a extra harmful species.

“It is somewhat surprising that owls represent the evolutionary pressure shaping acoustic behavior in bats in response to unpleasant experiences owls have with stinging insects,” he mentioned. “It is just one of the endless examples of the beauty of evolutionary processes.”

A paper on the analysis was not too long ago revealed within the journal Current Biology.

Source: Cell Press through EurekAlert

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