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Many insects like bees, dragonflies, wasps and other small insects are attracted towards light. Sometimes they are in groups, sometimes they are in solitude. When the light source source is switched off, they do not fly, rather stay still. What causes them to be so attracted towards light?

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marked as duplicate by kmm, AliceD, WYSIWYG Oct 12 '15 at 6:32

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    $\begingroup$ They think that the light is the "sun", so thry go towards to the light.( insects are guided from the suns position ). $\endgroup$ – The_Mad_Fish Sep 18 '15 at 20:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Orphee this is likely a myth $\endgroup$ – har-wradim Sep 18 '15 at 22:46
  • $\begingroup$ No it isnt.Its true. $\endgroup$ – The_Mad_Fish Sep 19 '15 at 6:35
  • $\begingroup$ Not a myth, but is among the current theories. Except it is more likely the moon. To fly in a straight line, an insect might use the moon as a stable landmark. An artificial light however, used as a landmark in this way, would result in flying in a spiral. $\endgroup$ – Karl Kjer Jan 11 '18 at 16:06
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Phototaxis is a common behavior to many species, including insects but not only (e.g. most fishes do phototaxis).

The ethological reason is quite simple: with light you can see, and if you see you can find food, avoid predators and increase your survival chances. Phototaxis is thus a very strong innate reflex: at the neural scale in many species it is "hardwired".

I would say that the initial "purpose" of this reflex was to avoid shade areas during daytime, the light during nightime being pretty rare before man invented artificial light. The fact that insects gather around artificial lights during nightime is, to me, a side effect of this reflex.

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