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Experiment No.

Positive Phototaxis in Moths

Negative Phototaxis in Cockroach recedes to

light beam

Maze Experiment to Demonstrate Phototaxis in Fruit flies

Experiment No. I



To study the phototactic behaviour of an insect.


Taxis (plural taxes;

the movement of
whole organism in response to a stimulus such as light or the presence of food.
are innate behavioural responses.
the tropism (turning or curvature response, often growth towards or away from
a stimulus) in that the organism has guided movement towards or away from
the stimulus. It differs from kinesis, another kind of response, which is a nondirectional movement to a stimulus.
Taxes are classified on the basis of type of stimulus, and on whether the
organism moves towards or away from the stimulus. If the organism moves
towards the stimulus, the taxis is positive, while if it moves away, the taxis is
referred as negative.
Depending on stimulus, taxis are of different types: Phototaxis (to light),
Chemotaxis (to chemicals), Thermotaxis (to temperature), Rheotaxis (to
flowing water), Thigmotaxis (to physical contact), etc.
Phototaxis (Phototactic Behaviour): It is a kind of taxis, in which a whole
organism moves towards or away from stimulus of light. Accordingly, it is

called Positive Phototaxis or Negative Phototaxis

Phototaxis in Insects:

Phototaxis is common in many insects. It can have several advantages for insects finding of phototrophic organisms for food and the facilitation of the adult dispersal.
Phototaxis can be positive or negative movement along a light gradient.
Insects can sense different spectrums of light, from the broad to the narrow. Many
insects show a preference to shorter wavelengths such as UV, violet, and blue light.
Moths are more sensitive to some wavelengths of light -- ultraviolet, for example -- than
they are to others. A white light will attract more moths than a yellow light. Moths dont
respond to yellow wavelength. Some are found to be blind to some monochromatic
In many insects, Phototaxis depends on the intensity of light. In low intensities elicit an
increased response while increased intensities elicit a decreased response to some
monochromatic lights.
Role of Photoreceptors in Phototaxis in Insects: In addition to compound eyes, most
adult insects posses two or three simple eyes, the ocelli. Both have role in Phototaxis. The
occlusion of the ocelli or the compound eyes alone had little effect on the phototactic
response in bugs. Only those which had both their ocelli and compound eyes occluded
showed a significant reduction in their negative response to light.
Positive Phototaxis in Moths. Moths are positively phototactic. The strength of

the light also influences the movement of the wings.. When the light from a distant
source, for instance moonlight in equal intensity reaches both the eyes of an insect, it
flies in a straight line with both the wings moving in the same way. But if the light
source is closer, for instance a bulb or a candle flame, it is perceived more strongly by
one eye than by the other. As a result the wing on one side tends to move faster making

the insect fly towards the light source in circles or spirals.

Negative Phototaxis in Cockroach, Soil Insects. Cockroaches are an
example of a negatively phototactic organism. The cockroaches scurry back
into dark corners and crevices when light is thrown on them. Soil insects
remaining underground confirm their negative phototactic behaviour.

Use of Hirsch-Hadler classification Maze to Study Phototaxis in Fruit

Fly: The light and dark choice is different in different strains of Fruit Flies