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About The Cover

Cover image expansion

COVER Silk moths (Saturniidae) can use their spinning hindwing tails to reflect bats’ sonar system and thus, mislead these predators’ echo target. Even as moths so capably avoid predators this way, little is known about their evolutionary history and the underlying causes of their diverse hindwing traits. Rubin et al. studied the evolution of hindwing traits in a phylogenomic data set focused on hundreds of genes, finding various wing shapes to have evolved distinctively. To test a role of wing efficacy in predator avoidance, the researchers altered the hindwing shapes of moths from the Saturniidae family—including tailed and tailless species—and pitted them against 16 big brown bats. Analysis of their high-speed camera and ultrasonic microphone recordings revealed that moths with enlarged hindwing lobes evaded the bats more often, suggesting that the long hindwing tales provide a powerful anti-predator and illusory advantage, but importantly, the illusion relies in part on the twisted and cupped end of the tail, emphasize the authors. [CREDIT: KAWAHARA LAB]