Everyone knows that insects are naturally attracted to light which can be very annoying at night time but not all lighting has the same effect on insects. Most are attracted primarily to UV light which has led many to speculate that LED bulbs do not attract insects. This raises the question do LED lights actually attract insects? Or will changing to LED bulbs mean there are fewer insects seeking shelter in your home?
Scientists have actually investigated this phenomenon. A paper published last year looked at this effect. The researchers customised the light spectrum produced by LED bulbs and used commercial LED and CFL bulbs as a control group. A trap was set up with the light so the research team could easily measure the amount of insects that are attracted to the bulb. The commercial bulbs attracted more insects than the customised LED lights.
The customised bulb was created using attraction curves for honeybees and moths. This essentially meant minimising the use of UV and blue light because these are the primary aspects of lighting that attract insects. This suggests that in the future bulbs could be produced or customised that would not attract insects. Bulbs that have been customised in this way would also help humans get a better night’s rest because it is the blue and UV spectrums that distort sleep patterns. One conclusion drawn from the study was that lighting designers would in the future not only have to consider the display, price and durability of lighting but also the impact on both environmental and human health.
This research has a lot of benefits for developing nations where insect borne diseases are still highly concentrated. Millions of people die every year from Malaria and Dengue and new threats like the Zika virus emerge regularly. If changing the lightbulbs of homes in developing countries can save these millions of people, then it should clearly be done as soon as possible.