Risky Business: Courtship Movements Put Katydids in Danger


Reproduction can be risky.

Reproduction can be risky. In the case of katydids, some hunting bats eavesdrop on male mating calls to locate the insects, but little is known about the risk to mates as they move toward each other. A recent study by scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and collaborating institutions explores the hunting behavior of a Neotropical bat, asking whether prey movement adds to the risk that they will be eaten.

Inga Geipel, a Tupper postdoctoral fellow at STRI and one of the lead authors on the study published in Biology Letters, and her colleagues observed the predation behavior of Micronycteris microtis, a gleaning bat species that loves to eat katydids, as it responded to different prey behavior. Common in Central and South America, M. microtis can detect silent and motionless prey through echolocation alone.

“I previously showed the surprising ability of M. microtis to find motionless prey and explained how they do it,” Geipel said. “But I kept wondering whether movement would actually increase the risk that an insect would be found.”

Read more at Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Image Credit: Christian ZIegler