Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 63, Issue 2, pp 217–226

The effectiveness of katydid (Neoconocephalus ensiger) song cessation as antipredator defence against the gleaning bat Myotis septentrionalis

  • Hannah M. ter Hofstede
  • John M. Ratcliffe
  • James H. Fullard
Original Paper


Many nocturnal katydids (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae) produce intense calling songs, and some bat species use these songs to detect and locate prey. One Nearctic katydid species, Neoconocephalus ensiger, ceases or pauses singing in response to bat echolocation calls. We tested the hypothesis that song cessation is an effective defence against gleaning bats (i.e., bats that take prey from surfaces). We observed Myotis septentrionalis, a sympatric bat species that uses prey-generated sounds when gleaning, attack and feed on singing N. ensiger in an outdoor flight room. These bats demonstrated a preference for the calling song of N. ensiger over a novel cricket calling song when they were broadcast from a speaker in the flight room. Bats attacked speakers broadcasting N. ensiger calling song as long as the song was continuous and aborted their attack if the sound stopped as they approached, regardless of whether a katydid was present as a physical target on the speaker. Echolocation calls were recorded during attacks and no significant differences were found between continuous and interrupted song approaches for four call parameters, suggesting that M. septentrionalis may not use echolocation to locate silent prey. Therefore, song cessation by katydids in response to ultrasound is an effective defence against gleaning bats.


Antipredator behaviour Echolocation Gleaning Tettigoniidae Chiroptera 


  1. Acharya L, McNeil JN (1998) Predation risk and mating behavior: the responses of moths to bat-like ultrasound. Behav Ecol 9:552–558CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson ME, Racey PA (1993) Discrimination between fluttering and non-fluttering moths by brown long-eared bats, Plecotus auritus. Anim Behav 46:1151–1155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Anthony ELP, Kunz TH (1977) Feeding strategies of the little brown bat, Myotis lucifugus, in Southern New Hampshire. Ecology 58:775–786CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arlettaz R (1996) Feeding behaviour and foraging strategy of free-living mouse-eared bats, Myotis myotis and Myotis blythii. Anim Behav 51:1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Arlettaz R, Jones G, Racey PA (2001) Effect of acoustic clutter on prey detection by bats. Nature 414:742–745PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bailey WJ, Haythornthwaite S (1998) Risks of calling by the field cricket Teleogryllus oceanicus; potential predation by Australian long-eared bats. J Zool, Lond 244:505–513CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Barber JR, Razak KA, Fuzessery ZM (2003) Can two streams of auditory information be processed simultaneously? Evidence from the gleaning bat Antrozous pallidus. J Comp Physiol A 189:843–855CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Belwood JJ, Morris GK (1987) Bat predation and its influence on calling behavior in Neotropical katydids. Science 238:64–67PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brack V, Whitaker JO (2001) Foods of the northern myotis, Myotis septentrionalis, from Missouri and Indiana, with notes on foraging. Acta Chiropterol 3:203–210Google Scholar
  10. Caceres MC, Barclay RMR (2000) Myotis septentrionalis. Mammalian Species 634:1–4CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Caire W, LaVal RK, LaVal ML, Clawson R (1979) Notes on the ecology of Myotis keenii (Chiroptera, Vespertilionidae) in Eastern Missouri. Am Mid Nat 102:404–407CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Carter TC, Menzel MA, Owen SF, Edwards JW, Menzel JM, Ford WM (2003) Food habits of seven species of bats in the Allegheny plateau and ridge and valley of West Virginia. Northeast Nat 10:83–88Google Scholar
  13. Conner WE (1999) ‘Un chant d’appel amoureux’: acoustic communication in moths. J Exp Biol 202:1711–1723PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Dawkins R, Krebs JR (1979) Arms races between and within species. Proc R Soc Lond B 205:489–511PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Endler JA (1991) Interactions between predators and prey. In: Krebs JR, Davies NB (eds) Behavioural ecology: an evolutionary approach. 3rd edn. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford, pp 169–196Google Scholar
  16. Ewing WG, Studier EH, O’Farrell MJ (1970) Autumn fat deposition and gross body composition in three species of Myotis. Comp Biochem Physiol 36:119–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Faure PA, Barclay RMR (1992) The sensory basis of prey detection by the long-eared bat, Myotis evotis, and the consequences for prey selection. Anim Behav 44:31–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Faure PA, Barclay RMR (1994) Substrate-gleaning versus aerial-hawking: plasticity in the foraging and echolocation behaviour of the long-eared bat, Myotis evotis. J Comp Physiol A 174:651–660PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Faure PA, Hoy RR (2000a) The sounds of silence: cessation of singing and song pausing are ultrasound-induced acoustic startle behaviors in the katydid Neoconocephalus ensiger (Orthoptera; Tettigoniidae). J Comp Physiol A 186:129–142PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Faure PA, Hoy RR (2000b) Neuroethology of the katydid T-cell. I. Tuning and responses to pure tones. J Exp Biol 203:3225–3242PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Faure PA, Fullard JH, Dawson JW (1993) The gleaning attacks of the Northern long-eared bat, Myotis septentrionalis, are relatively inaudible to moths. J Exp Biol 178:173–189PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Fenton MB, Gaudet CL, Leonard ML (1983) Feeding behaviour of the bats Nycteris grandis and Nycteris thebaica (Nycteridae) in captivity. J Zool, Lond 200:347–354CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Findley JS (1993) Bats: A Community Perspective. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  24. Grant JDA (1991) Prey location by two Australian long-eared bats, Nyctophilus gouldi and N. geoffroyi. Aust J Zool 39:45–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Greenfield MD, Baker M (2003) Bat avoidance in non-aerial insects: the silence response of signaling males in an acoustic moth. Ethology 109:427–442CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Griffith LA, Gates JE (1985) Food habits of cave-dwelling bats in the central Appalachians. J Mammal 66:451–460CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gwynne DT (1977) Mating behavior of Neoconocephalus ensiger (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae) with notes on the calling song. Can Ent 109:237–242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hosken DJ, Bailey WJ, O’Shea JE, Roberts JD (1994) Localisation of insect calls by the bat Nyctophilus geoffroyi (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae): a laboratory study. Aus J Zool 42:177–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hoy RR (1992) The evolution of hearing in insects as an adaptation to predation from bats. In: Webster DB, Fay RR, Popper AN (eds) The evolutionary biology of hearing. Springer, New York, pp 115–129Google Scholar
  30. Hoy RR, Robert D (1996) Tympanal hearing in insects. Annu Rev Entomol 41:433–450PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hübner M, Wiegrebe L (2003) The effect of temporal structure on rustling-sound detection in the gleaning bat, Megaderma lyra. J Comp Physiol A 189:337–346Google Scholar
  32. Jones G, Barabas A, Elliott W, Parsons S (2002) Female greater wax moths reduce sexual display behavior in relation to the potential risk of predation by echolocating bats. Behav Ecol 13:375–380CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Jones G, Webb PI, Sedgeley JA, O’Donnell CFJ (2003) Mysterious Mystacina: how the New Zealand short-tailed bat (Mystacina tuberculata) locates insect prey. J Exp Biol 206:4209–4216PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kardong KV, Berkhoudt H (1999) Rattlesnake hunting behavior: correlations between plasticity of predatory performance and neuroanatomy. Brain Behav Evol 53:20–28PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kavaliers M, Choleris E (2001) Antipredator responses and defensive behavior: ecological and ethological approaches for the neurosciences. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 25:577–586PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lee Y-F, McCracken GF (2004) Flight activity and food habits of three species of Myotis bats (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) in sympatry. Zoological Studies 43:589–597Google Scholar
  37. Libersat F, Hoy RR (1991) Ultrasonic startle behavior in bushcrickets (Orthoptera; Tettigoniidae). J Comp Physiol A 169:507–514PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Miller LA, Surlykke A (2001) How some insects detect and avoid being eaten by bats: tactics and countertactics of prey and predator. BioScience 51:570–581CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Miller LA, Treat AE (1993) Field recordings of echolocation and social signals from the gleaning bat Myotis septentrionalis. Bioacoustics 5:67–87Google Scholar
  40. Montgomerie R, Weatherhead PJ (1997) How robins find worms. Anim Behav 54:143–151PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Neuweiler G (1989) Foraging ecology and audition in echolocating bats. Trends Ecol Evol 4:160–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Neuweiler G (1990) Auditory adaptations for prey capture in echolocating bats. Physiol Rev 70:615–641PubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. New JG (2002) Multimodal integration in the feeding behaviors of predatory teleost fishes. Brain Behav Evol 59:177–189PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Norberg UM, Rayner JMV (1987) Ecological morphology and flight in bats (Mammalia; Chiroptera): wing adaptations, flight performance, foraging strategy and echolocation. Phil Trans R Soc Lond B 316:335–427CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Ratcliffe JM, Dawson JW (2003) Behavioural flexibility: the little brown bat, Myotis lucifugus, and the northern long-eared bat, M. septentrionalis, both glean and hawk prey. Anim Behav 66:847–856CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Ratcliffe JM, Fullard JH (2005) The adaptive function of tiger moth clicks against echolocating bats: an experimental and synthetic approach. J Exp Biol 208:4689–4698PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Ratcliffe JM, Fenton MB, Shettleworth SJ (2006) Behavioral flexibility positively correlated with relative brain volume in predatory bats. Brain Behav Evol 67:165–176PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Ryan MJ, Tuttle MD (1987) The role of prey-generated sounds, vision, and echolocation in prey localization by the African bat Cardioderma cor (Megadermatidae). J Comp Physiol A 161:59–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sakaluk SK, Belwood JJ (1984) Gecko phonotaxis to cricket calling song—a case of satellite predation. Anim Behav 32:659–662CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Sales G, Pye D (1974) Ultrasonic communication by animals. Chapman and Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  51. Schmidt S (1988) Evidence for a spectral basis of texture perception in bat sonar. Nature 331:617–619PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Schmidt S, Hanke S, Pillat J (2000) The role of echolocation in the hunting of terrestrial prey—new evidence for an underestimated strategy in the gleaning bat, Megaderma lyra. J Comp Physiol A 186:975–988PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Schulze W, Schul J (2001) Ultrasound avoidance behaviour in the bushcricket Tettigonia viridissima (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae). J Exp Biol 204:733–740PubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Schumm A, Krull D, Neuweiler G (1991) Echolocation in the notch-eared bat, Myotis emarginatus. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 28:255–261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Simmons LW (2004) Genotypic variation in calling song and female preferences of the field cricket Teleogryllus oceanicus. Anim Behav 68:313–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Soutar AR, Fullard JH (2004) Nocturnal anti-predator adaptations in eared and earless Nearctic Lepidoptera. Behav Ecol 15:1016–1022CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Spangler HG (1984) Silence as a defense against predatory bats in two species of calling insects. Southwest Nat 29:481–488CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Stapells DR, Picton TW, Smith AD (1982) Normal hearing thresholds for clicks. J Acoust Soc Am 72:74–79PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Templeton CN, Shriner WM (2004) Multiple selection pressures influence Trinidadian guppy (Poecilia reticulata) antipredator behavior. Behav Ecol 15:673–678CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. ter Hofstede HM, Fullard JH (2008) The neuroethology of song cessation in response to gleaning bat calls in two species of katydids, Neoconocephalus ensiger and Amblycorypha oblongifolia. J Exp Biol 211:2431–2441PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Tuttle MD (1974) Improved trap for bats. J Mammal 55:475–477PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Tuttle MD, Ryan MJ, Belwood JJ (1985) Acoustical resource partitioning by two species of Phyllostomid bats (Trachops cirrhosus and Tonatia sylvicola). Anim Behav 33:1369–1371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. von der Emde G, Bleckmann H (1998) Finding food: senses involved in foraging for insect larvae in the electric fish Gnathonemus petersii. J Exp Biol 201:969–980Google Scholar
  64. Walker TJ, Moore TE (2007) Singing Insects of North America.
  65. Waters DA, Jones G (1995) Echolocation call structure and intensity in five species of insectivorous bats. J Exp Biol 198:475–489PubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. Werner TK (1981) Responses of nonflying moths to ultrasound: the threat of gleaning bats. Can J Zool 59:525–529Google Scholar
  67. Whitaker JO (1972) Food habits of bats from Indiana. Can J Zool 50:877–883CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Whitaker JO (2004) Prey selection in a temperate zone insectivorous bat community. J Mammal 85:460–469CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wilson DE (1973) Bat faunas: a trophic comparison. Syst Zool 22:14–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Zuk M, Kolluru GR (1998) Exploitation of sexual signals by predators and parasitoids. Quart Rev Biol 73:415–438CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hannah M. ter Hofstede
    • 1
    • 3
  • John M. Ratcliffe
    • 2
  • James H. Fullard
    • 1
  1. 1.Biology DepartmentUniversity of Toronto MississaugaMississaugaCanada
  2. 2.Department of Neurobiology and BehaviorCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  3. 3.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of BristolBristolUK

Personalised recommendations