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Naturwissenschaften. 2008 Nov;95(11):1093-100. doi: 10.1007/s00114-008-0425-5. Epub 2008 Aug 7.

Ventral polarization vision in tabanids: horseflies and deerflies (Diptera: Tabanidae) are attracted to horizontally polarized light.

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Biooptics Laboratory, Department of Biological Physics, Physical Institute, Eötvös University, Pázmány sétány 1, 1117, Budapest, Hungary.


Adult tabanid flies (horseflies and deerflies) are terrestrial and lay their eggs onto marsh plants near bodies of fresh water because the larvae develop in water or mud. To know how tabanids locate their host animals, terrestrial rendezvous sites and egg-laying places would be very useful for control measures against them, because the hematophagous females are primary/secondary vectors of some severe animal/human diseases/parasites. Thus, in choice experiments performed in the field we studied the behavior of tabanids governed by linearly polarized light. We present here evidence for positive polarotaxis, i.e., attraction to horizontally polarized light stimulating the ventral eye region, in both males and females of 27 tabanid species. The novelty of our findings is that positive polarotaxis has been described earlier only in connection with the water detection of some aquatic insects ovipositing directly into water. A further particularity of our discovery is that in the order Diptera and among blood-sucking insects the studied tabanids are the first known species possessing ventral polarization vision and definite polarization-sensitive behavior with known functions. The polarotaxis in tabanid flies makes it possible to develop new optically luring traps being more efficient than the existing ones based on the attraction of tabanids by the intensity and/or color of reflected light.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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