Polarised Adventures

2016 Ig Nobel prize winner György Kriska and his colleagues are researching polarisation: a special property of the light, which is invisible to the human eye, but visible to various insects.
This is a superpower which can be used, for example, to recognize a stream when searching for water. The special visual information has helped aquatic insects to survive for millions of years, but humans have begun to transform the physical environment, so that the animals are receiving more and more false and often deadly signals.
Light reflections from artificial surfaces, such as solar panels, asphalt roads, windows, dark cars, basically all shiny and dark objects, represent an ecological trap for billions of aquatic insects every day. Thus, the polarized world is slowly becoming a weapon of mass destruction all over the world.

  • György Kriska
  • György Kriska
  • Edit Babinszki
  • Balazs Lerner
  • Ferenc Kriska
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    60 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    April 1, 2023
  • Country of Origin:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - György Kriska

György Kriska is a senior researcher at the Danube Research Institute, Centre for Ecological Research, Hungarian Academy of Sciences and assistant professor at Eötvös University in Budapest, Hungary. He has taught methodology in biology teaching and freshwater invertebrate identification for more than 20 years. He received his Ph.D. in biology from the Eötvös University, Budapest, in 2000. He has published numerous research papers in visual ecology, in addition to authoring a Springer monograph: Freshwater Invertebrates in Central Europe. His research interest is polarized light pollution and polarization ecological traps.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Ecological photopollution (EPP) has been defined as the degradation of the photic habitat by artificial light. Our main character, György Kriska and his collegues introduced a new term, the polarized light pollution (PLP), meaning all adverse effects on polarotactic aquatic insects attracted by horizontally polarized light reflected from artificial surfaces. PLP is a new kind of EPP, it is global and novel in an evolutionary sense. In numerous choice experiments with polarotactic insects and using imaging polarimetry we gave experimental evidence of PLP, such as (1) trapping of aquatic insects by dark oil surfaces; (2) dehydration of polarotactic insects attracted to black plastic sheets used in agriculture; (3) egg-laying of polarotactic mayflies onto dry asphalt roads; (4) attraction of aquatic insects to black, red or dark-colored car paintwork; (5) deception of polarotactic dragonflies by shiny black gravestones; (6) attraction of mass-swarming polarotactic caddis flies to glass surfaces. All such highly and horizontally polarizing artificial surfaces can act as polarized ecological traps for polarotactic insects, because these surfaces are inappropriate for the development of eggs laid by the deceived insects. The mortality associated with PLP may threaten populations of endangered aquatic insect species. There are some possible benefits and/or disadvantages of predators (spiders, birds, bats) feeding on the polarotactic insects attracted to different sources of PLP. There are some possible remedies of PLP, which is a byproduct of the human architectural, building, industrial and agricultural technology, and it may allow to function feeding webs composed of polarotactic insects and their predators. They emphasized that conservation planners should pay much more attention to aquatic insects because of their positive polarotaxis and their demonstrated vulnerability due to PLP.