The crepuscular nymphalid butterfly Manataria maculata was studied in Monteverde cloud forest, Costa Rica, during the dry season reproductive diapause. M. maculata has ears in the form of Vogel's organs located near the base of the forewings. Its behaviour in response to bursts of ultrasonic pulses (26 kHz, 110 dB SPL at 1 m) was condition-dependent. At dusk and dawn the sound consistently elicited evasive responses, similar to those of moths, in flying individuals. In contrast day-roosting individuals always remained motionless although they were alert to other stimuli. The daily movements between day- and night-roosts coincided in time and light intensity with the activity of insectivorous bats. This is the first reported case of ultrasonic hearing connected to evasive flights in a true butterfly (Papilionoidea). It strongly supports the idea that echolocating bats were involved in the evolution of hearing in butterflies.
Subject classification (UKÄ)