The interactions of bats and insects can be thought of as an elaborate race to survive. Bats began the race with the development of echolocation as an effective way to catch and eat insects. Moths and other insects countered with the evolution of ears. With ears they could hear the bats approaching and try to escape. When moths hear bats they fly in impressive loops, spirals, and power dives to evade the bats. Tiger moths, the moths that we study, do something more. They answer the echolocation cries of bats with a series of intense clicks produced by organs called tymbals.
Why would they do that? Why would a tiny moth make sounds at a predator that is bigger, faster, more powerful, and capable of hearing them.
For over forty years researchers have tried to answer this question. Some scientists think that moths produce the sounds simply to startle bats. Just like how loud sounds like sirens startle you. Others think that the moths are more tricky. They think that moths confuse the bats with their clicks by jamming their echolocation system with false information. The third possibility is that the moths are sending out a warning to the bats that they do not taste good. The message would say something like "do not waste your time with me, I taste bad".
Which do you think is correct?
Can you think of a way to prove it?