If your patio has become a Marriott for mosquitos and other biting insects with you and your family as the open bar, your outdoor lighting might be responsible. In a recent study at the University of Bristol, scientists found that traditional incandescent lights attracted four times more insects than LED lights.
Dr. Andy Wakefield, the lead field researcher in the study, surmised “We do not know why this is but we know that some insects use thermal cues to find warm-blooded hosts in the night, so perhaps they were attracted to the heat given off by the filament bulb.”
This science can be further supported by the behavioral response of phototaxis which refers to an organism’s tendency to move towards or away from a stimulus of light.
Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg writers of 'Why Do Men Fall Asleep After Sex?’ explained that, “Many insects, including bees, orient themselves in relation to the sun. Certain nocturnal bugs – moths, for instance – use moonlight to navigate, flying at a certain angle to the moon’s light rays to maintain a straight trajectory.”
LED lights, however, emit a remarkably small amount of ultraviolet light, producing a far weaker attraction in these positively phototactic insects.
This limited UV energy is why we are seeing a rise in LEDs used in commercial kitchens, outdoor swimming pools, restaurants, and other locales where insects are unwanted.
But what about your Sky Mall subscribing neighbor swinging to the soothing sounds of instant vaporization with his new LED bug zapper? If LEDs are so unattractive to insects, how does this product work? The answer reflects the results of Dr. Andy Wakefield and his University of Bristol scientists, it works four times worse than a zapper with a light that emits UV rays.
Without the allure of ultraviolet light, LED bug zappers are about as effective as swinging a toaster around by an extension cord hoping a mosquito just happens to fall into a bread slot or is killed by blunt force trauma.
This being said, if you must create that Born On A Bayou ambiance with one of the bug zapping lanterns you hang from a tree or patio hook, you could actually do worse than an LED.
LED lights don’t produce any poisons or chemicals and have a lifespan of 50,000 hours. In fact, they’re actually pretty great for the environment. They aren’t perfect, but in comparison to fluorescent bulbs, they are 80 percent more energy efficient, thereby reducing our carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions.
Will replacing all your kitchen lights with LEDs mean that your breakfast will be safe from buzzing nuisances laying eggs on your English muffin? No. If you choose to switch your patio lighting to flexible, color changing LED strip lights, will you be able to pass out on a lounger and wake up mosquito bite free? Maybe. LED lights are not a perfect solution, but the research affirms a significant advantage over traditional bulbs in reducing the number of insects drawn to your outdoor lighting.