Insects often exhibit phototaxis or repulsion and attraction to solid lights. Certain insects, such as moths, have positive phototaxis and are attracted to the lights, while others, such as cockroaches, have negative phototaxis and avoid them. The lights attract insects that are active throughout the day. Due to contemporary technology, however, insects are no longer attracted to the brilliance of LEDs.
Insects’ vision extends to ultraviolet (UV), blue, and green light. The blue or white hues of bulbs, like mercury vapor, incandescent, and fluorescent, provide an enticing environment for them. In contrast, insects show less interest in yellowish, pinkish, or orange colors.
What kind of light attracts insects?
Light with wavelengths between 400 and 800 nm (violet to red) is visible to the human eye, but light with wavelengths below 350 nm (ultraviolet) is not. Insects can see wavelengths from 300 to 650 nm. However, they are most active in the shorter range from 300 to 420 nm, which includes UV light.
Ultraviolet (UV) emission is one of the most critical factors in a light’s attraction to insects. As insects are attracted to these lights, most ILTs (Insect Light Traps) and bug zappers utilize UV/blacklight bulbs as their source of attraction.
Most insects only see ultraviolet (UV), blue, and green. Very bright white or blue lights are beautiful to insects. Not many insects are drawn to yellow, pink, or orange. Since only yellow and white incandescent bug bulbs are available, it is advised that yellow bulbs be used instead of white ones.
Compared to “cool white” bulbs, which have a bluer hue and are more attractive to insects, “warm white” and yellow lights resemble sunlight and are less likely to attract insects. Red lamps repel insects even less than yellow bulbs, provide little visible light, and have a decades-old “undesirable” social connotation.
The number of insects seems to rise anytime a light is switched on. Why?
Many insects, including mosquitoes, moths, and June beetles, like artificial lights. If you comprehend why insects are attracted to your lights, you may take preventative precautions instead of just eliminating them.
This phenomenon, known in the scientific world as phototaxis, describes how insects are drawn to artificial light, although its origins are unknown. Various explanations explain why insects are so attracted to light:
- Although insects are less vulnerable to hypothermia than other organisms, they naturally attract heat sources, such as light. Traditional light bulbs emit great heat, which is a primary bug attractant. As a result, they will congregate around the source of heat and surround it.
- Many insects and other species use the moon for navigation, and strong lights may confuse their internal navigation systems. If you visit Key West during sea turtle mating season, you will notice that the streetlights are all crimson. This prevents sea turtles from mistaking city lights for the moon and becoming disoriented. Compasses, the moon, and the stars assist animals and insects in navigating at night. Large, bright lights that resemble the moon may deceive insects.
- Several insect species use light as a mating signal, and humans have learned to imitate these signals by using artificial lighting. Insects are physiologically wired to be drawn to bright lights, and some wavelengths of light resemble possible mates more than others.
Tips for Patio Lights That Will Not Attract Insects
How can you illuminate your patio with the brightest alternatives (compact fluorescent lights and incandescent bulbs) without attracting swarms of insects? Here are the three most crucial considerations to properly light your patio or porch.
- LEDs save 90% more energy than incandescent lamps. They generate less insect-attracting heat. Several LED railing lighting solutions are available. LED post caps may define your porch or deck’s perimeter and provide ambient lighting. LEDs are the most excellent deck or porch railing lights owing to their long lifetime, low energy usage, and pest resistance.
- Employ several light sources: A single powerful light may throw off an insect’s internal compass, so use many lesser lights in different spots. To avoid attracting insects, use a variety of small lighting components for railings that provide a uniform glow. LED lights like universal light boxes and vertical post lights may illuminate stair railings, top rails, and balusters. Spreading light this way reduces insect attraction.
- Insects are drawn to lights along their flight route; lower lights work better. Insects prefer porch lights and ceiling fans over campfires. Hence, surface mount lights hidden within the deck or porch planks may minimize insects. These fit nicely into stair treads and porch edges. Vertical LED lights may be set low on the railings or home side, away from flying insects, in addition to horizontal post lights.
LED, compact fluorescent, sodium vapor, and halogen bulbs are all possibilities for outdoor lighting that won’t attract pests. Nonetheless, the LED is unparalleled in its energy efficiency and low heat output. Since LEDs produce no UV light and very little heat, they are less likely to attract insects. Bugs aren’t attracted to halogen or dichroic yellow lights, two of the few types of lighting available today.