New research by scientists from the University of Bristol has revealed that domestic LED lights are much less attractive to nuisance insects such as biting midges than traditional filament lamps.
The study, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and UK lighting manufacturer Integral LED, used customised illuminated insect traps at 18 field test sites across south-west England, lit by LEDs (2,700 and 5,000K), filament lamps and fluorescent lamps.
Over 4,000 insects were identified.
The results showed that LEDs attracted a quarter of the insects attracted to incandescent lamps, and half as many as compact fluorescent lamps.
“Notably, for biting flies – midges in the genus Culicoides – 80% were attracted to the filament lamp, 15% to the compact fluorescent and only 2-3% to each of the two different LED lamps”, said the University.
“We were surprised by the number of biting flies drawn to the traditional tungsten lights,” said researcher Dr Andy Wakefield. “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.”
In case yu are interested, warm and cool white LEDs had similar results, but the cool white lights generally attracted slightly fewer insects.
The team has called for further research on other heat-seeking flies that transmit disease, including mosquitoes that carrier diseases such as malaria and Zika.
London-based Integral LED helped commission the project and provided technical and financial support.
The work is published as ‘Experimentally comparing the attractiveness of domestic lights to insects: Do LEDs attract fewer insects than conventional light types?‘