Published on July 23rd, 2012 | by Steven Hodson


Hungry Bats Listen For Fly Sex [Video]

We all know that bats use their amazing sonar skills to be able to navigate the night skies and fin its food but scientists have discovered something else that this flying mammal when if comes to hunting for its nightly meals.

They apparently listen for the sound of flies mating.

Yes you read that right – bats are pervs who like nothing better than interrupting flies while they are doing the nasty so that they can fill their bellies.

This interesting fact was discovered by Max Planck Institute of Ornithology scientist Stefan Greif who has been doing a long term study on wild Natterer’s bats who seem to have a penchant for eating copulating flies. The bats are able to do this because they listen for the buzzing sound created by the wings of the male flies.

In a community of house flies and Natterer’s bats in a cowshed near Marburg, Germany, they analysed videotapes of the movements of almost 9000 flies. The researchers found that the flies rarely fly at night and mostly sit or run on the ceiling. Finding the flies by echolocation is nearly impossible for the bats as the faint insect echo is completely masked by the strong background echo which makes them virtually “invisible”.

This scenario completely changes when the male flies find a suitable mating partner. The subsequent copulation is a noisy event because males then produce broadband buzzing sounds that can be heard by the bats. Around five per cent of the fly pairs that engage in copulation were attacked and mostly eaten by the bats (across four observation years, even 26 per cent of the observed copulating pairs were attacked).

Talk about being a spoil sport.




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About the Author

Steven has been around the tech world long enough to see most of the stuff we think of cool happen before which leads to a certain bit of cynicism that has contributed to him being known as the cranky old fart of the Internet. Besides sharing some of the goodness that he finds with you here at 42x you can also find him curating some digital goodness at Winextra (tech type stuff) and Rotten Gumdrops (for your daily dose of WTF).

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