Bugs are attracted to light – this is something that everyone who enjoys the outdoors experiences. Whether you’re hosting an evening barbecue, dining on your patio after sunset, or simply reading outside at night, bugs inevitably seem to find their way to any light source and proceed to swarm around it. This can quickly turn a pleasant experience into an annoying, bug-battling endeavor. But is there a type of light that doesn’t attract bugs? Let’s take a closer look.
Why Bugs Are Attracted to Light
First, it helps to understand why bugs are drawn to light sources in the first place. There are a few key reasons:
– Many flying insects use light from the moon and stars for navigation. When they encounter an unnatural bright light source like a porch light, they become disoriented and confused. The light overwhelms their navigation system, causing them to fly towards it repeatedly.
– Some bugs are positively phototactic, meaning they instinctively move toward light. Light represents warmth and safety to them, so they are programmed to seek it out.
– Ultraviolet light is attractive to bugs. Many flying insects can see UV light that is invisible to humans. Light sources that emit UV rays will attract more bugs.
– CO2 and other chemicals emitted by light sources are attractive to mosquitoes and other biting insects. These provide cues that potential food sources may be near the light.
Types of Lights That Deter Bugs
Knowing why bugs swarm around lights gives us clues as to what kinds of lights may be less attractive to them. Here are some of the top options:
Yellow “Bug Lights”
Yellow or amber colored bulbs are less attractive to bugs than white light. This is because insects are less able to see light in the yellow/amber spectrum. Bug zapper bulbs or bulbs marketed as “bug lights” emit light in this color, making them less noticeable to insects.
Red light is at the low end of the visible light spectrum. Most bugs cannot see red light. This makes red bulbs or filters a good option for deterring insects. Red light also has less effect on human night vision, so it won’t destroy your ability to see at night.
Low-Pressure Sodium Vapor Lights
These efficient streetlights emit a pinkish-orange glow. The narrow band of light they produce is less attractive to insects. Scientists have found that low-pressure sodium vapor lights attract 62% to 79% fewer insects than broader spectrum lights.
LEDs (light-emitting diodes) are an energy-efficient lighting option. Some research indicates that LEDs attract fewer insects than traditional incandescent bulbs. This may be because they produce less ultraviolet and infrared radiation. Cooler color temperature LEDs around 5000K seem to deter bugs better than warmer 3000K LEDs.
Other Tactics to Deter Bugs
In addition to using the right type of light, there are some other strategies you can employ to make your space less inviting to insects:
– Position lights away from seating/dining areas
– Use downward facing or shielded lights to minimize glare
– Eliminate additional sources of CO2 and scent like open foods, standing water, and fragrant flowers
– Install bug zapping devices in outdoor areas
– Use fans to make the area less hospitable for tiny insects
– Supplement lighting with citronella candles or torches which repel mosquitoes
The Best Bug-Deterring Outdoor Lighting
Here is a summary of the best types of lighting for deterring pesky bugs:
|Type of Light||Color||Why It Deters Bugs|
|Yellow “Bug Lights”||Yellow/Amber||Harder for insects to see|
|Red Light||Red||Invisible to most bugs|
|Low-Pressure Sodium Vapor Lights||Pinkish-orange||Narrow light spectrum less attractive|
|LED Bulbs||White||Produce less UV and IR radiation|
As you can see, the key factors are using lights that emit colors, wavelengths, and spectrums that are less visible and attractive to pesky flying insects. Avoid broad spectrum white light. Position and shield lights carefully to minimize glare and light trespass. Employ other deterrents like fans, bug zappers, and scent repellents.
With the right lighting strategy, you can enjoy the evenings outdoors with less annoyance from bugs swarming around the lights. Experiment with different bulbs and placements until you find a setup that works well for your space.
The Best Outdoor Lighting Fixtures to Avoid Attracting Bugs
When selecting outdoor lighting fixtures, consider the following features that can help deter insect activity:
– Fully enclosed or shielded fixtures that point light downwards
– Fixtures constructed of non-reflective, opaque materials
– Dimmable fixtures that allow you to lower light levels at night
– Motion sensor lights that only turn on when needed
– Fixtures designed with interior baffles or lenses to control glare and light direction
– Recessed or flush mount fixtures that do not protrude from eaves and ceilings
– Fixtures compatible with yellow, amber, or red light bulbs
– Fixtures that accommodate low-pressure sodium vapor bulbs
– Fixtures that are compatible with LED bulbs, preferably 5000K or below
Also pay attention to the location and placement of fixtures:
– Install lights away from seating areas, doors, and paths of travel
– Position fixtures high enough that bulbs are not at eye level
– Face fixtures away from trees, shrubs, and sources of moisture
– Install lights on poles or posts at least 20 feet from gathering areas
– For security, use shielded directional lights pointed at ground level
Selecting non-glaring, shielded fixtures and strategic lighting placement goes hand-in-hand with choosing insect-deterring bulbs for discouraging bugs around your lighting.
Landscape and Garden Lighting Strategies to Deter Bugs
It’s not just porches, patios and decks that need bug-free lighting – your landscape lighting also needs some strategic planning. Here are some tips:
– Stick to low-voltage LED or solar powered lights which produce less UV radiation
– Use red or yellow LED bulbs in path lights and spotlights
– Avoid brightly illuminating water features, compost piles, or vegetation
– Place LED spotlights high up aiming down to reduce glare
– Install lights along walkways at lower heights to avoid glare in eyes
– Use motion sensors or timers to keep landscape lights off until needed
– Position garden lights away from seating areas and vegetable gardens
– Choose pathway markers or bollards with opaque, downward facing shades
– Look for recessed stair lights that concentrate beams on treads
– Use outdoor candles or oil lamps containing citronella
– Keep lighting minimal and focused only on essential areas
The goal is to provide just enough landscape lighting to highlight focal points and safely illuminate walking paths without turning your yard into a beacon for swarms of bugs. Less is often more when it comes to deterring insects.
Is Solar or Battery Powered Lighting Better for Avoiding Bugs?
Solar powered and battery operated lights seem like a great bug-free option since they don’t require wiring and electrical connections. However, they aren’t necessarily 100% effective for deterring insects. Here’s why:
– Solar and battery lights produce less infrared radiation which attracts some bugs
– They can be installed anywhere without electrical wiring
– Solar models are eco-friendly and energy efficient
– Portable models allow flexibility in placement and repositioning
– No UV emissions that come from bulb filaments
– Most models still use white LEDs which emit some blue and ultraviolet light
– Light levels tend to be brighter since batteries/solar need to charge
– It’s hard to find solar/battery lights with amber or red bulbs
– Motion activated models produce sudden bright light that startles insects
– Lights angled upward for solar exposure cause glare
The portability and versatility of solar/battery lighting does make them a good option for bug control. Just be sure to look for models with warmer toned LEDs, downward facing shades, and adjustable brightness. Avoid units with a lot of upward facing solar cells. For maximum effectiveness, combine solar/battery lights with other deterrents.
Should You Simply Avoid Outdoor Lighting Altogether to Deter Bugs?
Eliminating outdoor lighting entirely will certainly get rid of those annoying bugs congregating around your fixtures at night. But most homeowners aren’t willing to sit in total darkness to avoid a few flying pests. Here are some things to consider:
– Some lighting is usually required for safe outdoor access and navigation
– It’s reasonable to want to enjoy illuminated outdoor living spaces at night
– Well-designed lighting adds beauty and functionality to your home exterior
– Smart lighting choices can significantly reduce insect activity
– Supplemental deterrents can make outdoor lights even more bug-unfriendly
Rather than depriving your home of lighting, the solution is finding the right balance through lighting selectively, controlling brightness, using strategic fixtures, and incorporating other deterrents. The goal is to make your space functional and visually appealing after dark while also discouraging those persistent flying insects.
Although most outdoor lighting will attract at least some nuisance flies, moths, and mosquitoes, certain types of lighting are far less appealing to them. The key is choosing fixtures with features that block glare, direct light fully downward, and accommodate bulbs that emit yellow, amber, or red spectrums rather than full-spectrum white light. Cool LEDs, sodium vapor lamps, fully shielded fixtures, and smart placement also help.
While you may not be able to completely bug-proof your outdoor lighting, taking these steps will allow you to illuminate and enjoy your outdoor spaces at night without quite so many pests circling overhead. The right lighting strategy, combined with supplemental bug deterrents, can make for a significantly less infuriating outdoor experience after the sun goes down.
With some strategic planning, you can find lighting that provides safety, ambiance and visual appeal around your home without attracting swarms of insects. Carefully designed and installed lighting can be both beautiful and bug-unfriendly.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the main reason bugs are attracted to lights?
Bugs are drawn to lights largely because they use natural light from the moon and stars to navigate. Bright artificial lights overwhelm and confuse their navigation systems. Ultraviolet light also strongly attracts many insects.
Do citronella candles help repel bugs around lights?
Yes, the citronella oil released by candles does help repel mosquitoes and some other bugs. Position citronella candles around outdoor lights to enhance the bug deterrent effects. Just be sure to keep them away from combustible materials.
Should I use yellow bug light bulbs in all my outdoor fixtures?
You don’t necessarily need yellow bulbs in every fixture. Use them in fixtures near seating areas or paths of travel. Accent lighting aimed at vegetation can use other colors like red or blue as long as they are shielded.
What types of landscape lighting are least likely to attract insects?
Low-voltage LED and solar powered lighting aimed downward onto paths and surfaces are good options. Avoid illuminating large areas of vegetation. Use red or yellow bulbs where possible.
How far should outdoor lights be from gathering spaces to avoid attracting bugs?
At least 20 feet is ideal, if possible. The farther away the fixture is from where people are sitting or dining, the fewer bugs will find their way to that space.