A new assay was designed, named checker, that measures the individual response to light in the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster larva. In this assay the Drosophila larva apparently modulates its pattern of locomotion when faced with a choice between a dark and lit environment by orienting its movement towards the dark environment. We show that, in this assay, a response to light can be measured as an increase in residence time in the dark versus the lit quadrant. Mutations that disrupt phototransduction in the adult Drosophila abolish the larval response to light, demonstrating that this larval visual function is similar to that of the adult fly. Similarly, no response to light was detected in strains where the larval visual system (photoreceptors and target area) was disrupted by a mutation in the homeobox containing gene sine oculis (so) gene. Ablation of photoreceptors by the targeted expression of the cell death gene hid under the control of the photoreceptor-specific transcription factor glass (gl) abolishes this response entirely. Finally, we demonstrate that this response to light can be mediated by rhodopsins other than the blue absorbing Rh1.