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Do Christmas Lights Attract Bugs?

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Do Christmas Lights Attract Bugs?

It’s a question our pest control experts hear every once in a while this time of year. As you’re climbing on to the roof to put up your Christmas lights, you might be thinking, “Will these lights just attract more bugs and pests?”

Today, let’s dive into the answer to this pest control question…

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You’ve seen it time and time again—hundreds of bugs buzzing around an outdoor light. There’s no question that light sources attract bugs, but what exactly is it about light that draws them in? More importantly, can anything be done to remedy this? Although no amount of spray, citronella, or bug zappers will ever completely eliminate bugs, there are ways to attract less of them. LED lights serve as one way to dramatically reduce bug presence. That’s right, LEDs will reduce the presence of bugs; they will not transform an outdoor area into a bug-free zone.

Before discussing why LED lights can be helpful at attracting less bugs, it’s important to point out some information about bugs. There have been many studies done about the correlation between lighting and bug presence. In a research paper titled Insect Vision: Ultraviolet, Color, and LED Light,Marianne Shockley Cruz and Rebecca Lindner from the University of Georgia’s Department of Entomology write, “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.” Wavelengths are measured in nanometers, and shorter wavelengths of light (less than 550 nanometers) can indicate ultraviolet (UV), blue, or green colors. Cruz and Lindner also cite work that confirms the correlation between UV light from the sun and moon and how certain bugs navigate Earth. Another point to remember about bugs is that certain types, such as mosquitoes, are attracted to heat and have thermal receptors to help them find it. All of this information is helpful for determining why bugs flock to certain light sources.

Because different types of bugs see different wavelengths, it is never guaranteed that an LED light won’t attract them. However, most bugs are attracted to short wavelengths of light and are especially drawn to UV light; they can see it better, and some use it for navigation. Bulbs that emit more short wavelengths of light (cool white/bluish color) will attract more bugs. Lights that emit a majority of longer wavelengths (yellow/orange/red colors) are less visible. Heat can also draw bugs into an area. LED lights produce little to no UV light and a minuscule amount heat, which makes them less attractive to bugs—so long as they emit longer wavelengths of light.

Long story short, your Christmas lights probably won’t attract any more bugs than are already hanging around the streetlights and front porch lights. So go crazy with your Christmas lights!!

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