Why do mayflies lay their eggs en masse on dry asphalt roads? Water-imitating polarized light reflected from asphalt attracts ephemeroptera

G. Kriska, Gábor Horváth, Sándor Andrikovics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

143 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We report on dry asphalt roads acting as 'mayfly traps'; that is, they lure swarming, mating and egg-laying mayflies in large numbers. To explain this surprising behaviour, we performed multiple-choice experiments with Ephemeroptera in the field, and measured and compared the reflection-polarization characteristics of an asphalt road and a mountain creek from which mayflies emerge. We show here that Ephemeroptera can be deceived by and attracted to dry asphalt roads because of the strongly horizontally polarized light reflected from the surface. Asphalt surfaces can mimic a highly polarized water surface to Ephemeroptera. The darker and smoother the asphalt surface, the higher is the degree of polarization of reflected light and the more attractive is the road to mayflies. We show that mayflies detect water by means of polarotaxis; that is, on the basis of the partially and horizontally polarized reflected light. Asphalt roads are excellent markers for swarming Ephemeroptera because of their conspicuous elongated form; the sky above them is usually open, which is the prerequisite of mayfly mating, and the higher temperature of the asphalt prolongs the reproductive activity of mayflies. These additional factors enhance the attractiveness of asphalt roads to swarming mayflies. Thus, asphalt roads near ephemeropteran emergence sites (lakes, rivers and creeks) are a great danger for mayflies, because eggs laid on the asphalt inevitably perish. Asphalt roads can deceive and attract mayflies en masse like the ancient tar pits and asphalt seeps or the recent crude or waste oil lakes deceive, lure and trap polarization-sensitive water-seeking insects in large numbers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2273-2286
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Volume201
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1998

Fingerprint

asphalt
bitumen
polarized light
mayfly
Ephemeroptera
Eggs
roads
egg
road
Light
Water
water
swarming
polarization
Lakes

Keywords

  • Asphalt road
  • Ephemeroptera
  • Insect trap
  • Mayfly
  • Polarization vision
  • Polarotaxis
  • Reflection polarization
  • Reproductive behaviour
  • Video-polarimetry
  • Water detection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)

Cite this

Why do mayflies lay their eggs en masse on dry asphalt roads? Water-imitating polarized light reflected from asphalt attracts ephemeroptera. / Kriska, G.; Horváth, Gábor; Andrikovics, Sándor.

In: Journal of Experimental Biology, Vol. 201, No. 15, 08.1998, p. 2273-2286.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{1a34bf14f6144ca1a154f37380009889,
title = "Why do mayflies lay their eggs en masse on dry asphalt roads? Water-imitating polarized light reflected from asphalt attracts ephemeroptera",
abstract = "We report on dry asphalt roads acting as 'mayfly traps'; that is, they lure swarming, mating and egg-laying mayflies in large numbers. To explain this surprising behaviour, we performed multiple-choice experiments with Ephemeroptera in the field, and measured and compared the reflection-polarization characteristics of an asphalt road and a mountain creek from which mayflies emerge. We show here that Ephemeroptera can be deceived by and attracted to dry asphalt roads because of the strongly horizontally polarized light reflected from the surface. Asphalt surfaces can mimic a highly polarized water surface to Ephemeroptera. The darker and smoother the asphalt surface, the higher is the degree of polarization of reflected light and the more attractive is the road to mayflies. We show that mayflies detect water by means of polarotaxis; that is, on the basis of the partially and horizontally polarized reflected light. Asphalt roads are excellent markers for swarming Ephemeroptera because of their conspicuous elongated form; the sky above them is usually open, which is the prerequisite of mayfly mating, and the higher temperature of the asphalt prolongs the reproductive activity of mayflies. These additional factors enhance the attractiveness of asphalt roads to swarming mayflies. Thus, asphalt roads near ephemeropteran emergence sites (lakes, rivers and creeks) are a great danger for mayflies, because eggs laid on the asphalt inevitably perish. Asphalt roads can deceive and attract mayflies en masse like the ancient tar pits and asphalt seeps or the recent crude or waste oil lakes deceive, lure and trap polarization-sensitive water-seeking insects in large numbers.",
keywords = "Asphalt road, Ephemeroptera, Insect trap, Mayfly, Polarization vision, Polarotaxis, Reflection polarization, Reproductive behaviour, Video-polarimetry, Water detection",
author = "G. Kriska and G{\'a}bor Horv{\'a}th and S{\'a}ndor Andrikovics",
year = "1998",
month = "8",
language = "English",
volume = "201",
pages = "2273--2286",
journal = "Journal of Experimental Biology",
issn = "0022-0949",
publisher = "Company of Biologists Ltd",
number = "15",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Why do mayflies lay their eggs en masse on dry asphalt roads? Water-imitating polarized light reflected from asphalt attracts ephemeroptera

AU - Kriska, G.

AU - Horváth, Gábor

AU - Andrikovics, Sándor

PY - 1998/8

Y1 - 1998/8

N2 - We report on dry asphalt roads acting as 'mayfly traps'; that is, they lure swarming, mating and egg-laying mayflies in large numbers. To explain this surprising behaviour, we performed multiple-choice experiments with Ephemeroptera in the field, and measured and compared the reflection-polarization characteristics of an asphalt road and a mountain creek from which mayflies emerge. We show here that Ephemeroptera can be deceived by and attracted to dry asphalt roads because of the strongly horizontally polarized light reflected from the surface. Asphalt surfaces can mimic a highly polarized water surface to Ephemeroptera. The darker and smoother the asphalt surface, the higher is the degree of polarization of reflected light and the more attractive is the road to mayflies. We show that mayflies detect water by means of polarotaxis; that is, on the basis of the partially and horizontally polarized reflected light. Asphalt roads are excellent markers for swarming Ephemeroptera because of their conspicuous elongated form; the sky above them is usually open, which is the prerequisite of mayfly mating, and the higher temperature of the asphalt prolongs the reproductive activity of mayflies. These additional factors enhance the attractiveness of asphalt roads to swarming mayflies. Thus, asphalt roads near ephemeropteran emergence sites (lakes, rivers and creeks) are a great danger for mayflies, because eggs laid on the asphalt inevitably perish. Asphalt roads can deceive and attract mayflies en masse like the ancient tar pits and asphalt seeps or the recent crude or waste oil lakes deceive, lure and trap polarization-sensitive water-seeking insects in large numbers.

AB - We report on dry asphalt roads acting as 'mayfly traps'; that is, they lure swarming, mating and egg-laying mayflies in large numbers. To explain this surprising behaviour, we performed multiple-choice experiments with Ephemeroptera in the field, and measured and compared the reflection-polarization characteristics of an asphalt road and a mountain creek from which mayflies emerge. We show here that Ephemeroptera can be deceived by and attracted to dry asphalt roads because of the strongly horizontally polarized light reflected from the surface. Asphalt surfaces can mimic a highly polarized water surface to Ephemeroptera. The darker and smoother the asphalt surface, the higher is the degree of polarization of reflected light and the more attractive is the road to mayflies. We show that mayflies detect water by means of polarotaxis; that is, on the basis of the partially and horizontally polarized reflected light. Asphalt roads are excellent markers for swarming Ephemeroptera because of their conspicuous elongated form; the sky above them is usually open, which is the prerequisite of mayfly mating, and the higher temperature of the asphalt prolongs the reproductive activity of mayflies. These additional factors enhance the attractiveness of asphalt roads to swarming mayflies. Thus, asphalt roads near ephemeropteran emergence sites (lakes, rivers and creeks) are a great danger for mayflies, because eggs laid on the asphalt inevitably perish. Asphalt roads can deceive and attract mayflies en masse like the ancient tar pits and asphalt seeps or the recent crude or waste oil lakes deceive, lure and trap polarization-sensitive water-seeking insects in large numbers.

KW - Asphalt road

KW - Ephemeroptera

KW - Insect trap

KW - Mayfly

KW - Polarization vision

KW - Polarotaxis

KW - Reflection polarization

KW - Reproductive behaviour

KW - Video-polarimetry

KW - Water detection

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=0032143988&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=0032143988&partnerID=8YFLogxK

M3 - Article

VL - 201

SP - 2273

EP - 2286

JO - Journal of Experimental Biology

JF - Journal of Experimental Biology

SN - 0022-0949

IS - 15

ER -