When I upgraded the lighting in my garage, one of the things that really concerned me was whether my new LED lights would attract bugs.
Here in Florida, those little nasties are a constant threat.
For me, it’s mosquitoes. For my wife, it’s a flock of gnats, every time we walk past a pond.
And even though I wanted to make my garage a lot brighter, I didn’t want it to attract bugs and flying insects. I’ve seen how insects swarm over street lights and outdoor light fixtures. I’ve been told that LED lights can also be too blame.
So I did some research to find out the truth. This article discusses the theories behind why LED lights might attract bugs and what you can do to prevent them.
Let’s get started!
Why Are Bugs Attracted By Light?
So, why are some bugs drawn to light?
Believe it or not, there’s no simple answer to that question.
Some scientists believe that insects’ eyes are much more sensitive to light than ours. In fact, many insects can see ultraviolet rays that are entirely invisible to humans.
That means that our bright porch lights, which probably look dim to us and give off very little heat, may look like a lighthouse beacon to bugs.
Others believe that insects are drawn to light for the warmth it provides. Light attracts beneficial insects as well as pests.
Many bugs, like whiteflies and aphids, are not particularly attracted to light. Still, they need it to carry out their life cycle. For example, some parasitic wasps need light to lay their eggs on the leaves of the plants that feed their prey (aphids).
Other pest insects just happen to be around when you turn on your lights at night. So, for example, if you find a spider in your garage and wonder how it got there, chances are good that it crawled in when you left the lights on.
Finally, some bugs will be drawn to your porch or other artificial light sources if it is a way to escape predators.
Do LED Lights Attract Bugs?
LED, or Light Emitting Diode lights, have become extremely popular in recent years. Unlike conventional incandescent bulbs, they don’t have a filament that heats up to produce light.
Because there’s no filament, LED lights last years longer than older bulbs, and are more energy efficient.
In addition to being energy-efficient, LED bulbs don’t give off as much heat, compared with other types of lighting, such as incandescent bulbs.
However, there’s no scientific evidence to support the claim that LED lights attract bugs. In fact, a 2016 study from The University of Bristol (UK) concluded that “LED lights attracted significantly fewer insects than other light sources.
Traditional incandescent lights give off short-wavelength, ultraviolet (UV) visible light, which attracts some insects. LED lights, on the other hand, emit invisible infrared radiation (IR), not UV light.
LED lights also emit minimal heat. That means insects drawn to a heat source simply won’t find LED lights as appealing. Finally, unless they have reflectors, LED lights are directional and can’t be seen from as far away as other bulbs. That also makes them less attractive to insects and pests.
What Color Light Bulbs Keep Bugs Away?
While LED lights will do a better job at keeping certain insects away from your garage, we can go a step further. Certain colors of lights will be less attractive to bugs.
A Virginia study done in 2016 found that lights with warmer color temperatures attracted significantly fewer insects than the same light with a cooler color temperature.
Color temperature, measured in degrees Kelvin, refers to the shade of light along the color spectrum. The higher the color temperature, the longer the light’s wavelength, and the “warmer” the tone. See my guide to color temperature for more details.
The short explanation is that “warmer” yellow and red lights will attract fewer lights than “cooler” blue or purple lights will.
Keep Your Home Bug-Free Without Sacrificing Style or Function
Switching to LED lights in your garage has a lot of benefits. I’ve tested several of the most popular LED shop lights before I upgraded my own garage. Find out which ones I recommend here.
- Last fifteen times longer than traditional bulbs.
- Don’t use a filament, so they can’t break or shatter like incandescent or CFL bulbs.
- Are more energy efficient.
- Don’t need to “warm up” like fluorescent bulbs.
- Can be very small, so they take up very little space in your garage.
We naturally prefer cool-white lights, especially for detail work. However, you can use primarily warmer yellow lights outdoors to help keep bugs away.
Another way to keep your home bug-free is to install motion-sensor light fixtures outside. These lights turn on automatically when they sense movement, and can be programmed to turn off after a short delay. They’re great to place around the perimeter of your house. Not only are you adding security, but you’re directing flying insects to the lights outside instead of inside your garage.
Also, make sure all of your screens are in good condition and properly installed. If there are any holes or tears, fix them right away!
Lastly, many different kinds of bug zappers emit high-frequency sound. These bug zappers use electricity to kill flying insects. They attract the insects by emitting light and by a chemical substance that lures them.
If you have trouble with specific pests, check out my guide on some of the most common garage pests, and how to get rid of them!