Atlantic Cities

Record-Breaking Insect of the Day: The Greater Wax Moth

Record-Breaking Insect of the Day: The Greater Wax Moth
Wikimedia Commons

We interrupt the expectant chatter about cicadas to bring you news from the world of moths: according to a new study, the Greater Wax Moth has the most sensitive ears of any living thing on the planet.

This common winged bug, scientific name Galleria mellonella, can detect sounds of up to 300kHz. To compare, the teenagers chilling outside the 7-11 can hear a pathetic 20kHz, and even dolphins' limit of 160kHz is dwarfed by that of the Greater Wax Moth.

The researchers believe this incredible hearing ability may be the result of an evolutionary arms race with bats, who prey on moths and use ultrasound to communicate.

In any case, next time you think something is "noisy," just imagine what it sounds like to a moth.

Top image: courtesy Sarefo via Wikimedia Commons.

Henry Grabar is a freelance writer and a former fellow at The Atlantic Cities. He lives in New York. All posts »

Join the Discussion