bug-light

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Which light bulb attracts the fewest bugs? Study reveals surprises

*For our full coverage of AAAS 2016, check out our meeting page.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—If you’re trying to keep flying pests away from your veranda lights on summer evenings, your choice of light bulb matters. A poster presented here today at the annual meeting of AAAS (which publishes Science) describes a new study comparing insect traps outfitted with the six major types of commercially available lights, including traditional incandescent bulbs, LED bulbs that emit cold and warm colored light, and the yellow tinted “bug lights” marketed as being less attractive to insects. Over the course of a summer, researchers collected and catalogued 8887 insects and spiders from a neighborhood in Appomattox, Virginia. Although the factors that influence a light’s attractiveness remain mysterious, the study revealed some clear winner and losers. Incandescent bulbs brought in the largest insect haul, averaging about eight per hour. The “bug lights” and warm-colored LEDs were roughly tied for least attractive, at about 4.5. But the bug lights had a downside: They were more enticing than the warm LED to two insect orders that many people consider pesky: Hemiptera, which includes so-called “stink bugs,” and pincer-clad Dermaptera, better known by the heebie-jeebies–inducing name “earwigs.” Caveat emptor.

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