Polarotaxis in non-biting midges: Female chironomids are attracted to horizontally polarized light

Gábor Horváth, Arnold Móra, Balázs Bernáth, György Kriska

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29 Citations (Scopus)


Non-biting midges (Chironomidae, Diptera) are widely distributed aquatic insects. The short-living chironomid adults swarm in large numbers above water surfaces, and are sometimes considered a nuisance. They are vectors of certain bacteria, and have a key-role in benthic ecosystems. Optical cues, involving reflection-polarization from water, were found to be important in the habitat selection by three Mediterranean freshwater chironomid species. In this work we report on our multiple-choice experiments performed in the field with several other European freshwater chironomid species. We show that the investigated non-biting midges are positively polarotactic and like many other aquatic insects their females are attracted to horizontally polarized light. Our finding is important in the visual ecology of chironomids and useful in the design of traps for these insects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1010-1015
Number of pages6
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 24 2011



  • Chironomids
  • Non-biting midges
  • Oviposition site selection
  • Polarization vision
  • Positive polarotaxis
  • Visual ecology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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