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, and 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 are to blame.
I did some research to find out if LED lights attract bugs more than other lights, which I’ll share in this article.
Let’s get started!
Why Light Attracts Bugs
So, why are some bugs drawn to light?
Believe it or not, there’s no simple answer to that question.
Some scientists believe insects’ eyes are much more sensitive to light than ours. Not only that, but insects see a wider visible spectrum of light than humans do.
That means our bright porch lights, which probably look dim and give off very little heat, may look like a lighthouse beacon to bugs.
Others believe insects are drawn to light for its warmth, attracting both beneficial insects and pests.
Some 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 outdoor 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 higher energy-efficiency, LED bulbs don’t give off as much heat as other types of lighting, compared with other types of lighting, such as incandescent bulbs.
However, no scientific evidence supports the claim that LED lights attracts insects. In fact, a 2016 research paper 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. On the other hand, LED lights emit invisible infrared radiation (IR), not UV light.
LED light bulbs also emit minimal heat, meaning insects drawn to a heat source simply won’t find LED lights as appealing.
Finally, LED lights are directional and can’t be seen from as far away as other bulbs unless they have reflectors. That also makes them less attractive to insects and pests.
What Color Light Bulbs Keep Bugs Away?
While LED light bulbs will do a better job at keeping more bugs away from your garage, we can go a step further. Certain colors of lights will be less attractive to bugs.
A Virginia study 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 a warm colored LED light (yellow and red) attracts fewer bugs than an LED light bulb on the blue light spectrum (blue and purple).
Other Ways to Keep Bugs Away
Switching to LED lights in your garage has a lot of benefits. I tested several popular LED shop lights before upgrading 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 compact fluorescent bulbs.
- They 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, warmer colors, like red or yellow light bulbs, will attract fewer bugs.
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, ensure 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 lights emit high-frequency sounds. These bug zappers use electricity to kill flying insects. They attract insects by emitting light and 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!