Nights outside could be much more pleasant if it weren’t for one thing, the number of bugs attracted by your outdoor lights. Because your light bulb attracts all these insects, it leaves you with a couple of options. You can sit in the dark, go back indoors, or put up with the buzzing and biting as you try to enjoy yourself.
Luckily, the issue hasn’t gone unnoticed, and many clever individuals are looking at the problem. In the findings, they claim to some extent, all light attracts bugs; and there isn’t any color of light that actively repels these pesky bugs.
You can find certain types attract bugs less and can comprise fairy lights, yellow compact fluorescent lights, yellow bug lights, or yellow-tinted sodium or halogen bulbs, among a few others.
However, not all outdoor lights that don t attract bugs may suit your lighting setup. Luckily, in our guide, you can learn more about these types of light bulbs that don’t attract bugs and night-flying insects. (Find the Best Battery Operated Outdoor Lights)
You’ll see which attractive light to use and other things that attract bugs by the end. You’ll also see how to take action and avoid attracting bugs and other nocturnal insects while you try to enjoy yourself.
What Type of Outdoor Light Bulbs Does Not Attract Bugs?
Before looking at the outdoor light that does not attract bugs, you need to know the types of lights and how attractive light entices bugs toward them.
Here are the more common lighting types you can find for outdoor lighting.
The oldest are incandescent bulbs, which are now outlawed in many countries because of their inefficiency. They work by causing the glowing filaments to light by heating them. Infrared, or heat, emits most of the electrical energy used in this type of light.
Many insects are attracted to the heat and light provided by incandescent lamps; thus, entomologists use them in light traps to collect specimens.
Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs)
Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) were launched to replace incandescent bulbs more energy efficient. They produce UV light with mercury, which is subsequently converted to visible light on the inside of the bulb by a fluorescent phosphor layer.
The lamp’s design and quality determine the efficiency with which UV light is converted to visible light. When discarded, CFLs are designated as hazardous waste since mercury is harmful and can accumulate in the environment.
Yellow CFL bulbs are still recommended by certain pest management businesses as less enticing to insects than incandescent bulbs.
CFLs make up most yellow bug lights on the market today. However, according to at least one scientific research, yellow LEDs attract fewer insects than yellow bug lights. (Read Standard Light Bulb Base Size)
Light-Emitting Diode Lamps (LED)
The most modern technology is light-emitting diodes (LEDs), semiconductors that emit light when exposed to an electrical current.
They are far more energy-efficient, last longer, use less power, are more durable, and are less expensive than conventional lights. In addition, they can create monochromatic light in a variety of wavelengths.
According to studies, incandescent lamps do not attract as many insects as UV bulbs when employed in light traps.
According to the researchers, LEDs can be more or less enticing than UV light and incandescent lights. White LEDs were less appealing to insects in studies that used them. Almost all of the light emitted by these LEDs is visible.
White light-emitting LEDs emit little light in the visible range, such as UV and infrared. However, compared to incandescent and fluorescent bulbs, other LEDs that emit narrow bands of short-wavelength light attracted more insects.
The blue and green light spectrum has shorter wavelengths than yellow and orange in the visible light spectrum.
The electromagnetic spectrum comprises several wavelengths of light that can be classified as follows, from shortest to longest:
- Ultraviolet – invisible
- Infra-red – invisible
Except for bloodsuckers, most insects are drawn to the shorter end of the spectrum. To locate their prey, they frequently use infrared, a long-wave light.
Besides the type of light bulb, you have as your porch light, it is handy to understand the insects your lights can attract.
Here are some of the typical flying insects attracted by your home lights.
Incandescent light is like a drug to moths, who can’t get enough of it. It attracts other insects, though some of these can resist.
Many other insects, such as stink bugs, flies, beetles, and earwigs, have positive phototaxis, as do moths—however, the disease-carrying insects like mosquitoes and other blood-sucking insects you need to avoid attracting.
In scientific tests back in 2017, insect biologists reported the effects of LED bulbs wavelengths on mosquitoes and the strain most commonly carrying malaria. LEDs emitting blue light and others emitting green were used.
As a control, incandescent light bulbs were used. The mosquitoes were drawn to the green, followed by blue, and the incandescent attracted the lowest number of insects from all the light sources.
Thus, you need to avoid green and blue LED lights around your home, as with these LED bulb colors, you could find more insects attracted to light than you expected. (Read Fluorescent Bulb Sizes Guide)
Biting Flies (Diptera)
Biting flies are blood feeders that transport a variety of disease-causing bacteria and viruses. Sandflies, black flies, tsetse flies, and biting midges are all members of the Diptera group, including mosquitoes.
According to researchers, biting flies had two maxima toward a light’s UV output and the blue to green spectrum, which fluctuated during the day. The reactions appeared to be tied to the insects’ circadian rhythms.
What Color Outdoor Light Does Not Attract Bugs?
Ultraviolet (UV), blue, and green are the three primary colors seen by insects. In addition, insects are attracted to bright white or bluish lights from the mercury vapor, white incandescent, and white fluorescent range.
Most insects dislike yellowish, pinkish, or orange colors from the sodium vapor, halogen, yellow dichroic range.
Patio lights come in many forms like:
- Lantern style.
- Globe lights and Edison Style
- String lights and more.
You’ll find string LED lights come in many styles, colors, and even waterproof options of these energy-efficient alternative bulbs. So, you can easily use them on patios, barbecues and hang them in trees.
Up to 70% of bugs prefer cool blue light whereas only 8%-10% favor yellow or warm LED lights, so pick these colors, and you could attract fewer bugs.
It is unlikely that insects will be attracted to light from these tiny individual light bulbs as they would around a single bright light fixture.
These lights are protected from the elements by a PVC tube or rope, so check the packaging to ensure they use LEDs.
As the wiring is wrapped with rope, some cheaper rope lights may use incandescent bulbs, and since they emit heat, they don’t last as long as LEDs, plus they use more energy and can attract more pests than LED bulbs.
In addition, the RGB variants of LED rope lights can be dimmed to reduce bug attraction.
LED Lantern Lights (Warm White Or Yellow)
Many people adore oriental-style lanterns with a brightly painted paper shade. Outdoor lanterns often come in a more durable material that you can hang from the roof, awning, or rafters. Youn can find candles in some lanterns, which will attract moths and other creatures.
Unlike string lights, which distribute light across a large area, lanterns give concentrated illumination. Avoid using strong or blue-white lanterns while attracting bugs while giving decent illumination. Some outdoor LED lamps are portable, and many are solar or rechargeable.
Compact Fluorescent Lights
Not every CFL light source will repel pests equally. For example, some insects can’t see a yellow light and can only make out ultraviolet, blue, and green light.
Unlike an LED light, CFLs have delicate filaments in flowing gas and can be influenced by weather, thus unsuitable for outdoor use. However, they are less expensive than LEDs but use more energy and have shorter life spans.
Porch Light Yellow Bulb
If you can situate these lights in sconces against a wall or beneath a protected roof, it is ideal. Although, you will find CFLs are gradually being phased out as retailers introduce more LED light technology.
For a permanent light fixture on your patio, consider LEDs now instead of CFLs, as they may not be around in a few years. (Read What Are The Drawbacks To Solar Tube Lighting)
For a more vintage aesthetic, Edison bulb string lights are another choice. They have the typical Edison bulb design but contain warm white or yellow-orange LED strips.
Remember that Edison bulbs are incandescent lamps, which have been found to attract insects, although they produce less heat than larger counterparts.
They are also known as LED filament lamps since they utilize less energy than incandescent bulbs. It also lasts up to 15,000 hours. The light radiates evenly from them. Many are dimmable, but certain dimmer switches cause flickering and buzzing, attracting insects.
Yellow Bug Lights
Yellow bug lights are nothing new, and manufacturers claim they don’t harm bugs or repel them; they only attract less.
Several studies reveal that although they may not attract as many flying insects, they can still attract earwigs and other crawling insects.
Biting flies like mosquitoes and other biting insects use infrared wavelengths to target warm-blooded animals, including people. A bug light will emit yellow light, which some people dislike, and studies show that amber, yellow, or warm white LEDs perform better as a bug light.
Sodium Vapor and Halogen Bulbs
Gas lights sodium vapor and halogen lamps. Low-pressure and high-pressure sodium vapor lamps are commonly used as streetlights. But the low-pressure ones impair color vision. In addition, broken sodium lamps provide a significant fire hazard, making their disposal difficult.
Low-pressure sodium lamps are effective light sources when color perception isn’t essential. However, because they are monochromatic, they will cast a dark black on your patio. They don’t pollute as much as other light sources, but the LED revolution is sweeping them aside.
Lights That Don’t Attract Bugs
Mosquitoes preferred longer UV wavelengths over shorter UV wavelengths, although their attraction to yellow wavelengths varied by species. Biting flies were less attracted to longer wavelengths of visible light.
Researchers also find that light intensity matters. The brighter the light, the more biting insects they attract. The human eye cannot see the intensity changes that animals can, and many hypothesize green LEDs attract more insects than blue LEDs because of perceived intensity differences rather than wavelength.
So, consider both their color and intensity while choosing lights for your patio. The light flashing also contributes. All lights flicker, but humans can only see a small range of it. It is seen as a continuous glow outside of this spectrum.
Insects may perceive flickering outside the human range, impacting their light attraction. LED lights flicker faster than standard lights, which may be why insects dislike them.
Many flying insects have a favorable phototaxic reaction to UV light (Phototaxis is a scientific term on how an organism’s body reacts to light), enabling manufacturers to produce UV-emitting bug zappers that attract and destroy them.
Yellow bug light incandescent bulbs have been sold for many years to attract insects. Unfortunately, the bulb’s yellow filter diminishes light in the blue wavelength, making it less appealing to arthropods.
Because yellow incandescent lamps don’t block infrared, their heat still attracts insects. White LED lights don’t emit UV light or infrared, but emit blue light. Cool light bulbs shine more blue than warm light bulbs. The latter emits light in the yellow-orange range.
A 2016 study on do LED lights attract bugs found that incandescent lights were the most enticing, while warm LEDs were the least. This was the first study to compare all major outdoor use bulb types. Using warm LED bulbs outdoors could significantly lessen the impact of light pollution on insects.
However, they discovered that different lighting systems had varying impacts. For example, LED systems attracted fewer insects than comparable incandescent and CFL systems.
LED light bulbs measure color temperature in Kelvin degrees. The lower Kelvin numbers are yellower, whereas the higher Kelvin numbers are purple.
Choose lower Kelvin LEDs to avoid attracting bugs and insects. On your patio, utilize low-wattage lighting because bugs are sensitive to light intensity and wavelength.
Considerations For A Patio Light
That’s not the end of the bug issue. A bright orange light attracts more insects than a dull one. Also, the more heat the lamp emits, the more appealing it is to some pests, mainly when used as outdoor lighting.
Most yellow bug light options are CFLs, which emit less heat than incandescent. However, warm white LEDs outperform CFLs for outdoor lighting.
Remember that bug zappers are designed to attract insects and to kill bugs. Thus, they can increase the number of insects on your patio. Bug-zappers produce violet and ultraviolet light, not yellow bug lights.
Aside from attracting insects, bug-zappers are indiscriminate assassins that kill beneficial insects like bees and moths.
Remember that yellow, orange, and pink or warm color temperature lights emit less UV than blue, purple, and green.
So, avoid putting fluorescent and incandescent lamps near doors and windows. If you don’t want yellow bug lights, use warm white to yellowish LEDs.