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Are Bugs Attracted to LED Lights? Yes or No

This is universal talk, ‘where there is light there is bugs.’ This is true in nighttime, it’s not happening anywhere, no bugs around the lights. It is often seen time and again, thousands of bugs lively around and outdoor light. So question raise, are bugs attracted to LED lights frequently.

There are studies done about the correlation between lighting and bug presence. Marianne Shockley Cruz and Rebecca Linder from the University of Georgia, Department of Entomology write in a research paper under titled Insect Vision: Ultraviolet, Color, and LED Light  “Experimental work supports the idea that color perception exists in insects and that they are especially responsive to the shorter wavelengths of the visible spectrum and UV light.”

However, wavelengths are measured in nanometers, and shorter wavelengths of light, which less than 550 nanometers and can indicate ultraviolet (UV, blue, or green colors. As per the research, Curlz and Lindner confirm the correlation between UV light from the sun and moon and how certain bugs navigate Earth.

But there are certain types of bugs such as mosquitoes, are attracted to heat and have thermal receptors to help them find it. In this article we are going to discuss why insects love light and the light source they find least attractive.

Why Bugs are attracted to Light?

Bugs or insects are everywhere outside but we can not remarkably see them in daytime. They usually live during daytime in various areas like gardens, horticulture, trees and jungle areas. But during summer evenings or at night outside in the backyard or on the porch you can see Bugs or insects flying around Outdoor Flood lights, Fence lights, street lights, or even a campfire flame.

There are also some insects, like moths, that just seem to be naturally drawn and hypnotized by the sources of light. What is the actual cause for the attraction to light. As the insects or bugs are unable to tell us, this is a matter of research and the professional seems to know or imagine the behavior of them.

Bugs Use Light Navigation

There are many who believe that bugs or insects use natural light, like the moon or sun, to help them navigate. Also, some studies mentioned that  bugs rely on light sources to guide their travels and moment. In the past days, Sailors used the North Star to determine their usual travel by ship in the sea.

Insects might use porch light and fly toward light for their source of travel. If a moth or fly mistakes, the porch light for the sun or moon, they might confuse and start to circle around the source.

Trying to Escape from Predators

One of the conceptions is Bugs may feel light ensure safety for them. While insects find light, it may tell them that a path is not blocked by predators or obstacles. Many of the time, light signals can escape from potential danger for insects and the bugs or insects are attracted to light, and this is the philosophy.

Looking for Food

Usually it is seen, many mouths feed on the juice from flowers, which are known to reflect ultraviolet (UV) light. There are some light bulbs that give off a small amount of ultraviolet light and the bugs fly around the lights. Hungry bugs come to the bulb thinking of a flower by mistake.

Searching for a Meal

As per research, it is said that the insects are attracted to porch lights and campfires because they know other insects are moving around. Majority studies through their concept and reports that the insects are looking for meals most of the time and move towards the flower for meal and confusingly, they thought the light looked like a flower.

However, the discussion stated above, this is the concept of research or studies, but why are insects attracted to light? This has no simple answer to the question as yet. This is mysterious.

Heat Radiation

Insects are seen around the light in all seasons, but in winter these scenarios are many more. It seems that insects are attracted to the heat radiating from the bulb and they like to get warm escaping from cold weather.

What Light color spectrum attracts Insects?

A group of scientists started research on Bugs to see how many color lights attract them. As such the scientists have arranged studies with installing different many color lights in a vast agricultural land where insects are in abundance.

After switching on, huge numbers of bugs gathered around the different lights, which were captured and counted separately. Their result of the study, from the highest bugs count to lowest, are as follows:

First highest – Black, that is ultraviolet light color light

Second highest – Blue color light

Third highest – White color light

Fourth highest – Yellow color light

Fifth highest – Green color light

Sixth highest – Red color light

Majority scientist of the group opined that the simple eye of insects and some other invertebrates (e.g. ocelli) are better at detecting short wavelengths of light, which is ultraviolet.

LED bug lights and warm-colored LED lights

LED Manufacturers also produced LED bug lights aiming to reduce the presence of bugs. These bulbs are simply light bulbs produced with a yellow coating that decreases the color temperature of emitting light.

LED bug light bulbs with yellow coating will emit a peak wavelength of light around 550 to 600 nanometers. Whereas LED lights that emit warm colored illumination, such as yellow strip lights, yellow Malibu light bulbs.

These bulbs for landscape application or gold tint filament bulbs are great for creating an area and also less likely to attract bugs and insects around lighting.

One of the most reputable ecologists, Michael Justice, executed a research experiment to determine the type of residential light that attracts the least amount of bugs. His findings were presented at the 2016 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference.

As per his research, Justice wrote “The incandescent bulb had the highest capture rate, followed by CFL halogen, LED with a cool color temperature, and the bug light. An LED with a warm color temperature had the lowest capture rate.” Justice also added, “From an ecological perspective, LED with a warm color temperature should be favored because they attract the fewest insects, their lower emission in the blue spectrum should reduce their contribution to light pollution, their directional technology allows for more precise lighting, and they have favorable energy conversions and life cycle assessments.”

Bottom Line

Through this article we outlined are bugs attracted to LED lights in our discussion. Yes, bugs are attracted to LED lights because different types of bugs see different wavelengths. So, it is never guaranteed that an LED light won’t attract them. Most of the bugs are attracted to short wavelengths of light and are especially drawn to UV light. Causing, they can see UV light better and some use it for navigation. Bulbs that emit more short wavelengths of light like cool white or bluish color will attract more bugs. On the other hand, lights that emit a majority of longer wavelengths like yellow or orange or red colors are less visible. Heat is also the cause to attract bugs around lights.

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