The holiday season is here and many enjoy lighting up their home and decorating the landscape. Most outdoor lighting today uses LED lighting which is more energy efficient and safer than incandescent lighting but, is there any improvement with LED in attracting insects? Basically, it depends on the insect.
What Draws Insects to Light
Many insects are attracted to light due to phototaxis, which is the phenomenon of being positively or negatively drawn to light. Flies, moths, mosquitoes, gnats, midges, stink bugs, carpet beetles, alate ants, alate termites, weevils, pill bugs, and beetles are phototaxis-positive. Note that ants and termites are phototaxis-negative except for the alates or winged reproductives which are attracted to light only during the swarm or mating stage.
Conversely, some insects are phototaxis-negative such as cockroaches, ants, spiders, and centipedes. Note, spiders do not like light but they will construct webs near light to prey upon the insects that are attracted to light. While most amphibians, such as frogs and toads, are not attracted to light, they will prey upon the insects that congregate near lighting.
Our sub-tropical climate provides a conducive environment for insects and amphibians. Much of the state does not experience a frost until after the holiday season and it is not unusual to find temperatures in the 80’s on Christmas Day. A hard frost is our best deterrent in reducing insect pressure but unfortunately, in terms of insect control, we don’t get the benefit of cold weather here.
What Color of Lights to Use Outdoors
When buying/installing LED decorative lighting, color does help in reducing insect pressure. Phototaxis-positive insects are less attracted to yellow, red, and amber lights while more are attracted to blue, white, and green. If you are lighting up an entryway or patio where people will congregate, try to use more yellow, red, or amber lighting.
If you are a true lighting star, a Clark Griswold, consider having your home treated before installing lighting. A safe and effective insect treatment can reduce insects significantly.