In somewhat surprising news, scientists have discovered that caterpillars can whistle. Part of the reason for the ability to whistle is to fend off attacks from birds that want to eat them. However, the furry caterpillars donâ€™t whistle in the same way that humans whistle.
How Do Caterpillars Whistle?
Caterpillars do not use their mouths to whistle, which made sense because they donâ€™t have lips. Caterpillars whistle by blowing out their sides. The caterpillars that produce this whistle are called walnut sphinx caterpillars, and they make the tooting sounds by blowing air out their sides. Other types of caterpillars also make sounds to ward off predators by clicking their mandibles together.
These talented caterpillars get their entire body into the whistling effort. They pull their heads back which compresses their body cavity to produce the whistle. What a neat effect! The amazing little caterpillars can actually whistle for up to four seconds at a time producing frequencies that birds and humans can hear as well as those that are detectable by ultrasound.
Caterpillars Whistle Successful at Warding Off Birds
The walnut sphinx caterpillars whistle apparently hurts the yellow warblers who try to eat them. When the caterpillars produce the sound, the birds actually flinch and move away from what would have been a tasty meal. Does it actually hurt the birds? Perhaps, the unexpected sounds either hurt or scare the birds into leaving the caterpillars alone.
What an interesting discovery about caterpillars whistling. Perhaps there are even more interesting things that caterpillars can do. Who knows? Have you ever heard a caterpillar whistling or making any other type of sound? Scientists make amazing and surprising discoveries each day it seems even though it is tempting to believe that we know nearly everything â€“ there are new things all the time.
Â© Copyright: News Today Online by Kate JamesÂ at Gather.com