Noctuid moth do echolocate.

So far they are the only invertebrates proven to echolocate.

There are many more echolocating animals among vertebrates: the most-known are bats and dolphins. Two bird groups also employ echolocation for navigating through caves. Echolocating animals emit calls and listen to the echoes of those calls returning from various objects surrounding the animal. Echolocation is used for navigation and for hunting in various environments which are unfavourable for vision-based orientation while the animal moves rather fast. To estimate a distance to some object in the environment the animal meaures the time delay between the its own sound emission and an echo that returns from the object.

All echolocating vertebrates possess highly sophisticated auditory systems with complex neuronal structures.

Moths have the simplest ears known so far: two ears, only three neurons per one ear (six in total), two of them are the auditory receptors. Compare that to tens of thousands of receptors in mammals.

Despite of that moths have evolved their own echolocation system. As in bats, it is also based on ultrasonic signals.

The most interesting thing is that bats feed primarily on moths so they provide us with a model of predator and prey interactions, both of which use ultrasonic echolocation.

Here we describe

- how moths emit ultrasound

- how do they hear an echo

- and, finally, how do they echolocate and why do they need echolocation

Why website

Most of the data presented here were published in Russian peer-reviewed journals from 1993 to 2005. Only some of these arcticles have been translated into English.

Since the echolocation in noctuid moths was proved using three different methods and, in addition, since it perfectly fits moths ecology, this phenomenon has been recognized by Russian scientific community. Unfortunately, some part of this work is almost inaccessible for English-speaking readers because of the language barrier.

This website is intended to provide some basic facts and ideas concerning noctuid moths echolocation for scientists and naturalists who cannot read in Russian.

This website is still under construction.

As soon as we get another topic ready we publish it.

Unfortunately we are not native English speakers. We know - there are a lot of language mistakes scattered through the website. We would greatly appreciate your help in correction of at least some of them - just send us an e-mail to