We recently reported that baculovirus Spodoptera exigua multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus (SeMNPV) triggers positive phototaxis in Spodoptera exigua larvae, leading to death at elevated positions. Dobson et al.  (University of Stirling, Scotland) question our interpretation of the data. Unfortunately, Dobson et al. rely on unwarranted assumptions possibly reflecting a poor understanding of baculovirus–insect pathobiology, make invalid comparisons and fail to take relevant literature into account. Here, we recapitulate the context and interpretation of our experiments and highlight the misinterpretations by Dobson et al.