Junior Naturalist - Bat and Moth Game
Mar 05, 2013
If you were a bat hunting for food at night, how would you find a meal? Echolocation! All bats in Illinois use echolocation, a kind of bat radar, to locate and zoom in on their prey. They emit a pulse of sound at a high frequency that is inaudible to humans. The bat listens for echoes bouncing off objects to determine an item’s distance, shape, size and even surface texture. If all these clues add up to food, the hungry bat swoops in to catch its prey.
You can be a bat in this game. At least two people are needed: one to be the bat and many others to be moths. You’ll need a blindfold for the person portraying the bat and enough open space so that running around can be done safely by the blindfolded bat.
Without talking, the moths should join hands and form a circle around the blindfolded bat. As they release hands, the moths should “fly” away silently and separately from one another. While the moths are flying away, the bat should slowly spin around a few times – but don’t get dizzy and lose your balance!
When the moths are in place and standing quietly still, the bat emits an audible “beep” and all the moths respond with one long and drawn out “sshhhh” sound (to mimic their wing beats). The blindfolded bat uses this sound as a clue to the moths’ locations. The “sshhhh”-ing doesn’t have to be done in unison, and should only take a few seconds for everyone to complete.
The blindfolded bat now tries to “echolocate” the moths by searching for the source of the “sshhhh” sounds. While the bat is carefully “flying” around the area searching for the insects, the moths must hold still and be quiet, or they will be tagged. When a moth is tagged by the bat, that moth is considered to be the bat’s dinner and is out of the game. That moth then steps outside the playing area.
At this point, all remaining moths have a chance to change locations. The bat stays right where he “ate” the moth just caught and spins around again while the rest of the moths fly to new places. The bat should again beep and the moths again emit a long, drawn out sshhhh, and the game resumes. Play continues until all moths are echolocated and eaten by the bat, or until the bat is either too full or too tired to hunt for dinner any more. Take turns so that each of the moths can be the bat, too.
When the game ends, discuss what it means to be a predator or prey. What behaviors helped the bat to catch the moths? How did the moths avoid being eaten? What would happen if the bat could not echolocate any moths? What animals prey upon bats? Have fun learning about this fascinating flying mammal!