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Idaho Fish and Game


Bat vs. Moths - A fun "echolocation" activity for teachers and their students!


Bats vs. Moths
(similar to the children’s game Marco Polo)


Objective:  This activity will help demonstrate how bats use echolocation to navigate in the dark to find food and avoid obstacles.



●   A classroom of eager learners

●   A large open space like a gymnasium or an open outdoor field

●   5 to 7 blindfolds



  1. Select 4 to 6 students to be moths and 1 student to be a bat.  The rest of the students will be trees in a forest.
  1. Move to a large space and have all the “trees” stand in a circle, spaced at least an arm’s length from each other.  The “trees” will serve as the boundary.
  2. The bat and the moths move to the inside of the circle and are blindfolded.
  3. At this point, it is important for the bat and moths to remember that this is a walking game!  Running is not allowed.
  4. On the signal from the teacher, the bat and moths will slowly walk in any direction for 5 to 10 seconds until the teacher says “STOP”.  This helps distribute the bats and moths a bit before the activity actually starts.  During this time, the trees stay still and quiet, but warn the bat and moths when they get too close to them by saying “TREE”.
  5. When ready, the teacher says “FORAGE” and the bat and moths start to move within the circle, slowly, with arms outstretched.  (The moths are trying not to get tagged by the foraging bat.) The bat must now say “MOTH”.  When the moths hear this, they must respond “BAT” (similar to the children’s game Marco Polo).  This continues until the bat is able to tag as many moths as they can within a pre-set time limit (usually 2 to 3 minutes, though this can be adjusted depending on the class).
  6. If a moth gets “eaten” (tagged), the moth takes off the blindfold and joins the trees.
  7. It is important for each tree to remember to say “TREE” when the bat or a moth gets close.  This ensures that the blindfolded students know where the boundaries are.
  8.  Allow 2-3 minutes for the bat to catch his/her prey.  Rotate the roles after each turn.


Options for the Activity:

●   You can make the game easier for the “bat” by giving him/her more “moths” to eat, or harder by giving him/her fewer “moths” to eat.

●   You can have the “eaten” moths become bats so that they have to compete with each other for the same prey.

●   You can add more obstacles (trees, rocks, a building) in the middle of the circle that say their object name as a bat or moth approaches. 

            ●   To demonstrate how moths can evade their bat predators, when the moths hear the word “MOTH”, they respond “BAT” like before-- but can squat down so that they are harder to find or tag.  However, these hiding moths have to stand up after silently counting to 10.

●   After the activity, have a discussion with the class on how bats catch their prey and what makes hunting prey challenging.  Did they always succeed in getting a moth?  Did the bat ever eat all the moths in the 2 minutes?  What was the effect of having other obstacles in the middle of the circle?  What choices does the bat have if all the moths get eaten?


 Sources for the Activity:  Variations of this activity have been written and posted on websites and printed in publications.  The one described below is based on an activity found at  It was modified for Idaho Fish and Game’s WILD About Bats by Jennifer Jackson, Regional Communications Manager, IDFG Southeast Region.


Have a “bat-tastic” time with this activity!!