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Do LED Bulbs Attract Insects and Bugs?

Last updated on February 22, 2022

Lights are useful, practical, and necessary for safety, work, and the functionality of any space.

People transform modern indoor and outdoor settings with different types and styles of lighting.

Especially with LED fixtures, the variety of options is great, and the low energy consumption feature makes these fixtures all the more attractive.

However, there is an incessant and annoying issue to determine resulting from using LED lights: will they attract bugs?

do LEDs attract bugs
Source

Will the purchase and installation of these lights require you to keep an insect repellent or insecticide close by to get rid of the unwanted guests?

This article will help you classify the different types of lights and what lures bugs to them.

What are bugs attracted to?

Different types of insects are attracted to varying light spectrums depending on their orientation and wavelength.

There are two types of insects, daytime bugs and nocturnal ones, which you may find circling your bulb.

Daytime bugs are attracted to UV rays that the sun produces. During the day, the sun emits radiations of varying wavelengths and approximately 44% of these wavelengths reach the earth in the form of light.

The scientific name of the visible, natural light is the visible spectrum.

Source: http://www.ces.fau.edu

This visible zone includes short wavelengths ranging between 350-700 nanometers. These short wavelengths have a high frequency that lures bugs out of their habitats into the open air.

Another characteristic of shorter wavelength light heats. Bugs that have thermal receptors are naturally attracted to heat, which is why they come out of their hiding spots once the sun rises.

In addition to UV rays, wavelength, and heat, the sun also has a unique color temperature.

Nocturnal bugs use the moon as a compass.

Moths, for example, are attracted to the moon, that’s why they maintain the moon’s light at a constant angle whenever they fly around.

You will notice that on nights with a full moon, these insects fly higher than usual compared to nights when there is little to zero moonlight.

While the sun produces bright, hot radiation, the moon reflects a warm, white glow. This difference effectively attracts different bug types to these lights during the day and at night.

Insects are attracted to a variety of features including color temperature, heat, shorter wavelengths, and UV rays emitted by natural light sources.

As such, it is safe to say that the bulb type installed at home and its specific features will determine the kind of insects you will have to deal with.

These bugs are drawn to the light emitted from the bulb as they confuse its effect with that of the sun or moon.

What is Color Temperature?

Light has a unique feature that makes it visible to the naked eye. This is due to the reflecting light from a heated black body to a particular temperature, making it radiate different colors that make it easy for the eye to spot.

The color temperature of the sun ranges between 5900 – 6500k. This varies depending on how hot the sun is on any particular day.

On the other hand, the moon’s color temperature is slightly lower, considering it is not as hot and is a reflectance of light from the sun. On a clear night, the moon radiates up to 4000k color temperature.

It is good to note that cool color temperatures are higher than 4000k while warmer ones hit lower spectrums. Below is a list of the different types of light tones available.

  • Black
  • Blue
  • White
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Red

Black, blue, and white are warmer tones producing significant UV radiation and heat. Yellow, green, and red are cooler ones that emit little to no UV light and heat.

How Does Color Temperature Attract Bugs?

Depending on their orientation and propagation of light from the bulb, insects are attracted to lights ranging between warm and neutral scales, however, they prefer lights that radiate UV rays or heat.

The warmer the light, the more flies you will find circling it, which is why incandescent bulbs are magnets to bugs.

These insects are lured to the light, the UV rays, or to the heat emitted, as the thermoreceptors can detect heat over a long distance.

Studies show that black light attracts the most flies thanks to its short wavelengths which produce a lot of heat.

While black light takes the lead in attracting bugs, blue and white light emit high levels of UV rays that are warm and bright enough to catch the attention of flies in your backyard.

Incandescent Bulbs

If you’ve ever been in a room with such a bulb, you can immediately feel the space warming up as soon as the light starts glowing. These bulbs consume a lot of power and require up to 100 watts or more to function optimally.

Keep in mind that 100 watts bulbs are only useful around the household, and if you wish to use bulbs for a fly-catching experiment, you may want to select black light bulbs.

While these types may be quite cheap to buy, their high wattage leads to massive energy consumption and effectively large electric bills.

Incandescent bulbs are great for lighting and warming up a room, but have three major downsides: they are not long-lasting, they consume a lot of energy and they attract flies.

A large amount of heat they produce ruins the filament, which leads to frequent replacements.

A study done on the bulbs and their efficiency shows that each 100-watt bulb consumes 2 watts for producing light and the remaining 98 watts for producing heat.

They fall under the category of black, blue, and white lights since they are among the temperature color spectrums that emit warm lights.

Consequently, they produce both heat and UV rays. The amount of heat produced varies with how many watts these bulbs consume. Therefore, you may find incandescent bulbs that fall under black, blue, or white lights categories.

LED Bulbs

LED lights are great energy savers. Although their initial price might be costlier than incandescent ones, they save money in the long run with low energy consumption and reduced maintenance. 

An LED bulb could use as little as 8.5 watts to light up, at 4000 Kelvin. This level of color temperature is cool, a feature that is not attractive to flies.

Higher color temperature means that the bulb does not produce any heat or UV rays. And in case there is any heat or UV emission, the bulb produces them in very small quantities.

LED lighting fixtures use up to 80% of their wattage to produce lights. So, if you buy a bulb that consumes 8.5 watts, 6.8 watts will go into light production, while only 1.7 will count as heat.

One other benefit that you get from using these bulbs is that they are long-lasting. Using minimal power to function, they emit less heat and can last up to 50,000 hours, saving greatly on replacement costs.

Why do Warm Lights Kill Flies?

Have you ever wondered why bugs usually die a few minutes after flying a few rounds around the bulbs? The heat produced by the light fixtures is quite hot.

If you place your hand close to the bulb, you can feel the heat emitted in its proximity, and touching an illuminated bulb that has been running for some time can even develop blisters.

This high level of heat directly affects insects as they make trips around a hot bulb, and if they attempt to perch on it, they either undergo burning or electrocution.

A fly that touches the glass will experience burning, while one that attempts to rest on the metallic base will undergo electrocution.

Do LED Bulbs Attract Flies

Although bugs are generally attracted to light, insects only get close to warm lights. Black, blue, and white light are the most common culprits of drawing bugs into your space at night.

Bright and warm lights with low lumen output are highly attractive to bugs. But in the case of LED lights, the situation is different.

led lights attract bugs
Source

LED bulbs consume significantly less energy than traditional ones, using as little as 8.5 watts to function, which translates to an almost insignificant amount of heat produced.

LED bulbs produce mostly cool light, which is not visible to many bugs, and in some cases, can even act as a repellent for certain types of insects that would prefer to move away from the light source.

Aside from producing cool light, LED bulbs do not use metallic halides, which are responsible for emitting UV wavelengths which further attract bulbs.

As such, LED bulbs do not radiate any UV rays once they are glowing, making them ideal to use at home to ward off insects.

The Best LED Bug Repellant Bulbs

If you’re planning to make your home a bug-free zone, it is a good idea to invest in bulbs that produce light that is either unattractive to bugs or one that does not emit any heat.

Standard LED light bulbs to produce light that is unappealing to insects, but you can also go further by selecting lights that will ensure you do not have any bugs at home.

Investing in bulbs with a yellow, green, or red coating is one of the easy ways to repel unwanted insects.

Yellow light is very effective bug repellent as insects do not notice that there is a light on if the LED bulb illuminates yellow light.

Green is a good option, however, you need to make sure to avoid shades that resemble or are similar to blue light. When selecting a green color option, it’s best to choose a cool green shade that is farthest from the blue spectrum.

Red lights are probably the best light color insect repellents, although they might not be the most suitable or practical light shade for the home or outdoor space, as they produce the least light output, can lead to uncomfortable or even unsafe spaces, and cause eye strain.

Other Ways to Keep Bugs Away from Your Home

Apart from using cool lights within your home, you should implement other key measures to rid your space of insects. Otherwise, mosquitoes and other types of insects with heat receptors can still make their way into the house.

Make sure to get rid of any stagnant water and any water body around your house, either by drying it off the pavements or by draining puddles on the edges of the grass by pouring soil to absorb the water.

Ensure that your drainage system is functional and can properly direct all the water into the central drainage system.

Make sure you regularly trim the grass, as tall grass can become a breeding site for bugs. Fit your openings with wire screens to keep insects and crickets outside the house.

For more drastic measures, there are LED bulbs that have built-in zappers, which lures bugs to one location and gets rid of them.

Our Take

LED bulbs are a great light option for anyone struggling to eradicate bugs at home. You can implement a handful of other measures to shun bugs outside the house.

Munazza Umar

Munazza holds a degree in electrical engineering. She loves writing about energy efficiency, energy hacks, and environmental sustainability.

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