If the lights on your porch or in your outdoor area result in teeming swarms of flying insects, you may need to swap out the type of bulb or light you’re using, depending on the bugs in your area.
However, if you change out the bulbs in your outdoor areas and bugs are still a constant nuisance in the warmer months, you may be dealing with an infestation. If this is the case, it’s time to contact At Home Pros. We’ll connect you to licensed, insured, prescreened pest control experts in your area — so you can easily choose the one that’s right for you.
In the meantime, it pays to know about the insects you’re dealing with. Some bugs are attracted to light, while others are repelled by it. Here are some of the reasons that flying insects react to different types of lights.
Positive vs. negative phototaxis
The way light affects an organism is called phototaxis; the definition is pretty simple, and you don’t need to be an entomologist to understand the basics of it.
If a bug has positive phototaxis, like flies or moths, it is attracted to light. If an insect has negative phototaxis, like cockroaches and many other nocturnal creatures, then it avoids light.
To make your outdoor spaces less attractive to insects, it’s a good idea to reduce the elements that are attracting certain insects to the lights outside your home. More importantly, if you know how phototaxis works, you can use the right kind of light for your location.
The three elements of phototaxis are the length of the light’s wave (which is also its color), as well as its brightness and its temperature.
- Wavelength: The length of the light wave corresponds to its color. Like other creatures, insects can see certain wavelengths better than others. Humans have three receptors in their eyes — blue, green and red — which allows us to see the rainbow, but prevents us from seeing ultraviolet (UV) light easily. Insects can see shorter wave colors like blue quite well, but can’t see long wave colors like yellow or orange.
- Heat output: Another feature of lights that insects find very attractive are their heat output. Bugs love to stay warm, so any heat-emitting light bulbs can attract more bugs than you would like.
A fine example is the pesky mosquito. The reason these flying menaces hover around your porch lights isn’t because they’re attracted to the light. They’re actually drawn to the heat the light emits.
Incandescent and halogen light bulbs are filament-based, so they aren’t good choices for outdoor areas as they burn hot, especially at higher wattages. Fluorescent and LED bulbs emit light using flowing gas, so they are much cooler than other bulbs.
Contrary to popular belief, LED light bulbs do emit some heat — just not as much as their counterparts. Replacing your porch and garden lights with LED bulbs will greatly reduce the heat output and therefore lessen the number of bugs bothering you at night.
- Brightness: The final component to phototaxis is how bright your lights are. The brighter the lights, the larger the area from which insects are drawn. In other words, the brighter the bulb, the more bugs can see it and potentially be attracted to it.
Choose lighting options that make sense for the size of your space. If you have a 100-watt bulb lighting your small outdoor porch, consider switching to a 60-watt bulb to attract fewer bugs.
Various insects are attracted to different types of light, so there’s no one size-fits-all when it comes to choosing lighting options that deter bugs. There are bug lights available, but many of these have a yellow tint that some people find unappealing. If you don’t like yellow bug lights but still want to reduce the lighting that attracts flying or crawling insects to your property, you have a few different choices.
Types of bug-repellent lights
Since LED bulbs create much less heat, they are the least attractive to bugs of all sorts. It matters if you’re using older models versus newer ones, however, as the older bulbs emit as much UV as incandescent bulbs and about as much heat, thanks to a particular coating used in earlier days of LED bulbs.
Newer LED light bulbs do not use that coating, especially those with a warm tint. Researchers studied which bugs were attracted to what bulbs, and found that cool-white hued bulbs attract as few bugs as their warm-hued counterparts. The bulb that attracts the fewest bugs across the boards is a white, cool-tinted LED light in a low wattage.
If your bug issue is more than just a nuisance and has blossomed into a full-scale infestation, it may be time to call in the pros. At Home Pros can help you find the right pest control expert the first time around. Contact us today, and we’ll put you in touch with the home service professionals who can keep your home bug-free all summer long.