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Everyone has seen moths, mosquitoes and gnats erratically flying around the lights attached to homes. It is also common for people to find numerous flies and other insects lying dead within light fixtures while changing both indoor and outdoor bulbs. This habit is obviously deadly to the insects that indulge in it, but there exists far more insects than most people are aware of that instinctively gravitate toward artificial light sources. It may not be surprising to learn that artificial light sources can attract insect pests within and around homes where they can become a nuisance, but as it happens, the relatively recent arrival of street lights and other commercial light sources has contributed greatly to modern urban insect pest issues.

Before electrical light sources lit up the world during the nighttime hours, insect pests were not nearly as troublesome in urban and residential areas as they clearly are today. The natural attraction that a variety of insect species have toward artificial light explains why dead flies, beetles, moths and other bugs wind up as corpses that are often found piled up in window-frames, on decks, balconies and in light fixtures. Some types of artificial light attract more insect pests than others, and some of the factors that contribute to this difference include brightness, wattage, ultraviolet light output and heat produced. The earliest forms of artificial light that illuminated urban areas did not attract as many pests as the variety of artificial light sources that exist today. This is due to the low intensity of early artificial light sources, but as time went on, and light intensity increased, so did the amount of insect pest species in urban and residential areas. The degree of attraction that some insects have to artificial light greatly influences their pest-status. For example, June flies, giant water bugs, crane flies, moths and numerous fly species in the Diptera order only annoy people because of their attraction to artificial light sources. Sodium vapor lamps and low-intensity lights, like orange and yellow lights, are not generally attractive to insects due to the low degree of UV light that they produce. Installing these types of lights around a home can go a long way toward reducing insect pests.

Do you pay attention to the types of light bulbs you buy in an effort to reduce insect pest issues?