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Nocturnal moths often use sex pheromones to find mates and ultrasonic hearing to evade echolocating bat predators. Male moths, when confronted with both pheromones and sound, thus have to trade off reproduction and predator avoidance depending on the relative strengths of the perceived conflicting stimuli. The ultrasonic hearing of Plodia interpunctella was investigated. A threshold curve for evasive reaction to ultrasound of tethered moths was established, and the frequency of best hearing was found to be between 40 and 70 kHz. Flight tunnel experiments were performed where males orienting in a sex pheromone plume were stimulated with 50 kHz pulses of different intensities. Pheromone-stimulated males showed increased defensive response with increased intensity of the sound stimulus, and the acoustic cue had long-lasting effects on their pheromone-mediated flight, revealing a cost associated with vital evasive behaviours.
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