Visual ecological impact of "Shiny black anthropogenic products" on aquatic insects

Oil reservoirs and plastic sheets as polarized traps for insects associated with water

B. Bernáth, G. Szedenics, G. Molnár, G. Kriska, G. Horváth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The waste oil lake in Budapest (Hungary) deceived, attracted and killed insects in large numbers and acted as a huge insect trap for 50 years from 1951. From August, 1997 to September, 1998 we observed and collected certain typical insects trapped by the oil. An estimate was made of numbers of insects associated with water of different groups identified in the 3000 m3 of the waste oil lake. Many insects associated with water (e.g., aquatic insects, insects living on moist substrata, dragonflies and mayflies) find their aquatic habitat by means of polarotaxis, that is, on the basis of the horizontally polarized light reflected from the water surface. We measured the reflection-polarization characteristics of the surface of the waste oil lake through time. In warm weather the surface of the oil was flat, shiny and acted as an efficient reflector and polarizer, like a water surface. Then the shiny oil surface occurred as an exaggerated, attractive water surface offering a supernormal optical stimulus to flying, polarotactic water-seeking insects. In cool or cold weather, however, the surface became dull, matt, or even wrinkled and lost its polarization and attractiveness to polarotactic insects. To investigate how dragonflies behave at the waste oil lake, and how they are entrapped by the oil, and what is their behaviour like prior to the moment of entrapping, we observed the typical water-specific behaviour of dragonflies at the oil surface. To study the visual ecological impact of the huge shiny black or white plastic sheets used in agriculture, we performed dual-choice field experiments with certain insects associated with water. We laid a shiny black and a shiny white plastic sheet onto the ground and observed the attracted insects and their behaviour. The measured and calculated reflection-polarization characteristics of these plastic sheets are also presented. Finally, some environmental protective and animal welfare arrangements are suggested that should be taken urgently in the vicinity of the habitats and biotopes of insects associated with water in order to eliminate the dangerous visual attractiveness of any open-air oil reservoirs and tar, asphalt or plastic surfaces to these insects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-109
Number of pages21
JournalArchives of Nature Conservation and Landscape Research
Volume40
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001

Fingerprint

ecological impact
plastic
insect
oil
water
dragonfly
polarization
lake
surface water
product
weather
animal welfare
mayfly
tar
biotope
habitat
asphalt

Keywords

  • Asphalt roads
  • Environmental impacts
  • Insect fauna
  • Insect trap
  • Plastic sheets
  • Polarimetry
  • Polarization vision
  • Polarotaxis
  • Reflection polarization
  • Visual deception
  • Waste oil lake
  • Water detection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

Cite this

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title = "Visual ecological impact of {"}Shiny black anthropogenic products{"} on aquatic insects: Oil reservoirs and plastic sheets as polarized traps for insects associated with water",
abstract = "The waste oil lake in Budapest (Hungary) deceived, attracted and killed insects in large numbers and acted as a huge insect trap for 50 years from 1951. From August, 1997 to September, 1998 we observed and collected certain typical insects trapped by the oil. An estimate was made of numbers of insects associated with water of different groups identified in the 3000 m3 of the waste oil lake. Many insects associated with water (e.g., aquatic insects, insects living on moist substrata, dragonflies and mayflies) find their aquatic habitat by means of polarotaxis, that is, on the basis of the horizontally polarized light reflected from the water surface. We measured the reflection-polarization characteristics of the surface of the waste oil lake through time. In warm weather the surface of the oil was flat, shiny and acted as an efficient reflector and polarizer, like a water surface. Then the shiny oil surface occurred as an exaggerated, attractive water surface offering a supernormal optical stimulus to flying, polarotactic water-seeking insects. In cool or cold weather, however, the surface became dull, matt, or even wrinkled and lost its polarization and attractiveness to polarotactic insects. To investigate how dragonflies behave at the waste oil lake, and how they are entrapped by the oil, and what is their behaviour like prior to the moment of entrapping, we observed the typical water-specific behaviour of dragonflies at the oil surface. To study the visual ecological impact of the huge shiny black or white plastic sheets used in agriculture, we performed dual-choice field experiments with certain insects associated with water. We laid a shiny black and a shiny white plastic sheet onto the ground and observed the attracted insects and their behaviour. The measured and calculated reflection-polarization characteristics of these plastic sheets are also presented. Finally, some environmental protective and animal welfare arrangements are suggested that should be taken urgently in the vicinity of the habitats and biotopes of insects associated with water in order to eliminate the dangerous visual attractiveness of any open-air oil reservoirs and tar, asphalt or plastic surfaces to these insects.",
keywords = "Asphalt roads, Environmental impacts, Insect fauna, Insect trap, Plastic sheets, Polarimetry, Polarization vision, Polarotaxis, Reflection polarization, Visual deception, Waste oil lake, Water detection",
author = "B. Bern{\'a}th and G. Szedenics and G. Moln{\'a}r and G. Kriska and G. Horv{\'a}th",
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T2 - Oil reservoirs and plastic sheets as polarized traps for insects associated with water

AU - Bernáth, B.

AU - Szedenics, G.

AU - Molnár, G.

AU - Kriska, G.

AU - Horváth, G.

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N2 - The waste oil lake in Budapest (Hungary) deceived, attracted and killed insects in large numbers and acted as a huge insect trap for 50 years from 1951. From August, 1997 to September, 1998 we observed and collected certain typical insects trapped by the oil. An estimate was made of numbers of insects associated with water of different groups identified in the 3000 m3 of the waste oil lake. Many insects associated with water (e.g., aquatic insects, insects living on moist substrata, dragonflies and mayflies) find their aquatic habitat by means of polarotaxis, that is, on the basis of the horizontally polarized light reflected from the water surface. We measured the reflection-polarization characteristics of the surface of the waste oil lake through time. In warm weather the surface of the oil was flat, shiny and acted as an efficient reflector and polarizer, like a water surface. Then the shiny oil surface occurred as an exaggerated, attractive water surface offering a supernormal optical stimulus to flying, polarotactic water-seeking insects. In cool or cold weather, however, the surface became dull, matt, or even wrinkled and lost its polarization and attractiveness to polarotactic insects. To investigate how dragonflies behave at the waste oil lake, and how they are entrapped by the oil, and what is their behaviour like prior to the moment of entrapping, we observed the typical water-specific behaviour of dragonflies at the oil surface. To study the visual ecological impact of the huge shiny black or white plastic sheets used in agriculture, we performed dual-choice field experiments with certain insects associated with water. We laid a shiny black and a shiny white plastic sheet onto the ground and observed the attracted insects and their behaviour. The measured and calculated reflection-polarization characteristics of these plastic sheets are also presented. Finally, some environmental protective and animal welfare arrangements are suggested that should be taken urgently in the vicinity of the habitats and biotopes of insects associated with water in order to eliminate the dangerous visual attractiveness of any open-air oil reservoirs and tar, asphalt or plastic surfaces to these insects.

AB - The waste oil lake in Budapest (Hungary) deceived, attracted and killed insects in large numbers and acted as a huge insect trap for 50 years from 1951. From August, 1997 to September, 1998 we observed and collected certain typical insects trapped by the oil. An estimate was made of numbers of insects associated with water of different groups identified in the 3000 m3 of the waste oil lake. Many insects associated with water (e.g., aquatic insects, insects living on moist substrata, dragonflies and mayflies) find their aquatic habitat by means of polarotaxis, that is, on the basis of the horizontally polarized light reflected from the water surface. We measured the reflection-polarization characteristics of the surface of the waste oil lake through time. In warm weather the surface of the oil was flat, shiny and acted as an efficient reflector and polarizer, like a water surface. Then the shiny oil surface occurred as an exaggerated, attractive water surface offering a supernormal optical stimulus to flying, polarotactic water-seeking insects. In cool or cold weather, however, the surface became dull, matt, or even wrinkled and lost its polarization and attractiveness to polarotactic insects. To investigate how dragonflies behave at the waste oil lake, and how they are entrapped by the oil, and what is their behaviour like prior to the moment of entrapping, we observed the typical water-specific behaviour of dragonflies at the oil surface. To study the visual ecological impact of the huge shiny black or white plastic sheets used in agriculture, we performed dual-choice field experiments with certain insects associated with water. We laid a shiny black and a shiny white plastic sheet onto the ground and observed the attracted insects and their behaviour. The measured and calculated reflection-polarization characteristics of these plastic sheets are also presented. Finally, some environmental protective and animal welfare arrangements are suggested that should be taken urgently in the vicinity of the habitats and biotopes of insects associated with water in order to eliminate the dangerous visual attractiveness of any open-air oil reservoirs and tar, asphalt or plastic surfaces to these insects.

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KW - Plastic sheets

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KW - Visual deception

KW - Waste oil lake

KW - Water detection

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