Scorpions fluoresce a bright green when under ultraviolet light, but the functional significance of the fluorescence is still unknown. A major challenge in studying scorpion fluorescence is the lack of efficient methods for testing the behavioral photosensitivity of scorpions. We have modified previous assays to produce a more sensitive testing device. The apparatus consists of a circular track made of a small Petri dish nested inside a larger one, with an LED shining from the inner chamber across a small sector of the track. We monitored the scorpions' movements in the arenas under three light wavelengths: ultraviolet (399 nm), yellow-green (566 nm), and red (630 nm); all wavelengths were matched to a nighttime light intensity (0.01 irradians). We also tracked each animal's movements in the absence of light as a control. The animals were attracted to 399 and 566 nm light and also showed some attraction to 630 nm. Furthermore, earlier studies suggest that scorpion photoreceptors form a homogeneous population that has been physiologically shown to be maximally sensitive to green wavelengths. We hypothesize that the photoreceptor population might be somewhat responsive to red light too, suggesting that the photoreceptors may respond to a broad spectrum of light or that the photoreceptor population may not be as homogeneous as previously thought. The strong response to UV light, as has been seen in other behavioral assays, remains enigmatic. Overall, this new assay is more sensitive than previous assays for detecting scorpion photoresponse and will be useful for future studies.
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Vol. 46 • No. 3