Biologists Make the Case for LED Lighting and Insect Avoidance
No matter the type of insect, it’s a fact that “creepy crawlers” are enough to bug most people. They are everywhere, though, so like it or not, humans have had to learn to coexists with these pesky little creatures. One way of doing so has been through the use of pesticides and insect repellants. Unfortunately, these often involve the use of harsh chemicals that are potentially hazardous to our own health and that of our families. One could also argue that it’s silly to spray in and around your home with toxins when you could first try to stop attracting bugs in the first place. Enter LED lighting.
You know that giant cloud of gnats and other nighttime insect that congregates around your home’s exterior doors? In some regions, you may have even seen bats lurking around, because your front porch light offers a perfect hotspot for their nocturnal snacks. The same dynamic occurs around street lights and virtually all exterior lighting.
Why does this happen?
Scientists have identified what is known as phototaxis. This is a fancy word that describes how an organism acts and moves in relation to natural light sources. If you say an insect is negatively phototactic, you’re referring to those that run away from light. This is often seen in cockroaches and earthworms.
Positively phototactic insects, such as moths, move toward light. They do this as a way of navigating their surroundings. By keeping natural light sources, such as the sun and the moon, at a constant angle, they are able to find their way around easily (especially over short distances).
Why is this a problem?
Unfortunately, insects are not especially analytic, and they lack the type of reasoning abilities that would help them differentiate between the moon and your front porch light. It confuses them to have more than one light source; image how difficult it must be for them in a place like Chicago!
We’ve all seen the untimely demise of the moth who flew too close to flame… or the bug zapper. Traditional incandescent light bulbs may even have the same effect if they grow hot enough and the insect flies close enough. It may seem like a minute, borderline nonexistent issue, but as we mentioned earlier, we’re talking about the food source for other animals in the food chain.
These heat-seekers have also become a much greater concern as of late, because some of the (mosquitoes, in particular) carry life-threatening diseases, such as West Nile Virus and Zika Virus. Most people would rather avoid having this flying around overhead every time they enter or leave their home.
How does all of this tie into LED lighting?
As fun as it is to chat about bugs all day, that’s not the reason for our little science lesson. The phenomenon we’ve described for you here, phototaxis, applies primarily to a certain wavelength of light. Several studies have shown that incandescent bulbs attract a substantially higher number of insects than LEDs, with warm-colored LEDs being the very best for insect avoidance.
Inevitably, as the demand increases, the tech and lighting industries are sure to give us even better options for the outdoor spaces around our homes. For now, however, go with warm-colored LEDs and save yourself the trouble of dealing with a swarm.
Interested in making the switch? We can help. Contact us to get started.