Outdoor solar lights are great for creating an ambiance for a relaxing evening outside, but you might be at risk of attracting bugs. Nothing can cut your night short faster than a chorus of uninvited bugs. Do solar lights attract bugs?
The short answer is it depends. Light is a spectrum and different light frequencies can attract different types of bugs. The longer the wavelength, the less inviting the light will be. Insects are also attracted to heat sources, so stick to light bulbs that don’t produce a lot of heat to help keep bugs away. This means warm, solar LED lights will be the best light source for keeping bugs away.
Using light bulbs with less heat is half the solution. Here’s a table highlighting the different types of light bulbs with how much heat each bulb produces respectively:
|Solar LEDs||CLF (Fluorescent)||Halogen||Incandescent|
|No Heat||Low Heat||Medium Heat||High Heat|
Understanding why insects, spiders, and bugs are attracted to your lights can help you create a better plan for keeping them away. We’ve put together a helpful explanation on the science of why bugs are attracted to your solar lights, as well as some actionable remedies to keep them out.
What Is The Science Behind Bugs Being Attracted To Solar Light?
In order to fully answer the question “Do solar lights attract bugs?”, we will look into the science behind how bugs are attracted to light. There are two attributes of a light that make it attractive to insects: heat and wavelength. Instead of saying wavelength, we can call it color.
How The Color Of Solar Light Attracts Bugs
Let’s talk about color first. It may seem weird that bugs are attracted to color, but it isn’t color the way we understand it. Color is just a range of wavelengths on the light spectrum.
There is a portion of light that we can see between 400nm to 780nm. And there is a different portion of light that insects can see or sense.
Insects can only see shorter wavelengths. So they are more attracted to the ultraviolet end of the wavelength spectrum. That means that they prefer to seek out cool blue lights over the warm yellow or red lights.
This attraction to light is due to a characteristic called positive phototaxis. For nocturnal insects, they get around using the light of the moon almost like a compass. This biological response gets interrupted and confused when there are other cool blue sources of light within their view.
How The Heat Of Lights Attract Insects
Not all bugs are built the same way. Though many insects are attracted to the color of the light, other bugs hover around light because of it’s heat.
Insects stay warm by flying around, which generates heat through the friction it creates. But not all bugs are shaped in a manner that creates enough heat to stay alive. This process of how insects generate and maintain heat is called insect thermoregulation. And there are entire fields of study on this subject alone.
Without getting into the weeds, there are some types of insects that cannot generate enough heat on their own through flying. Those insects get the rest of their heat from the sun or any other source of heat they could find. This is why you may find them hovering around your lights or a warm piece of equipment.
Another group of insects are attracted to heat because that is how they hunt. They use infrared to find their source of food. The most annoying, and likely most familiar, of these insects is the dreaded mosquito.
Which Bugs Are Attracted To Light
Now we know that bugs can be attracted to light, heat, and even carbon dioxide. So which bugs will be hovering around your porch light?
As we discussed, phototaxis describes the relationship an insect has with light. Negative phototaxis would mean the bug is repelled by an exposure to a light source. A few pests that fall in this category are cockroaches and earthworms.
Bugs that have positive phototaxis mostly belong to the flying insect family. Moths and flies are heavily attracted to light. Whereas, mosquitoes have a small attraction to light. Bees, wasps, butterflies, and most beetle species have strong positive phototaxis. These insects with strong phototaxis are either seeking water, food, or a source of light.
Of course, when you attract insects like flies and moths, you will attract some predators of flies and moths. This means your blue-hued porch light will indirectly bring in animals like frogs, bats, and birds.
Types of Lights That Do Not Attract Bugs
We have already learned that even the best solar yard lights attract bugs if the light is bright and cool. We also know that heat producing lights like halogen and incandescent bulbs will attract certain types of insects. Now let’s dive deeper into the specifics on the types of lights that do not attract bugs.
UV light is the preferred light for most insects. Unfortunately, it happens to be able to travel really far due to the short wavelength. That means picking the wrong type of light could turn your house into a shining beacon for any insect within a square mile.
The lower the color temperature (lumens), measured in Kelvin (K) for light bulbs, the more “yellow” a light will look. For example, a 2700K LED will has a slight yellow tint to it. Whereas a 6500K LED will come across as more blueish, which it more attractive to the insects.
Keep in mind, if you attract smaller bugs then you will attract larger bugs who are looking for an easy dinner. It’s important to pick the right type of solar light to make sure you keep all of the bugs away.
These Edison string lights are 2700K warm light that create a beautiful ambiance while still putting out enough light to see. It is also on the low end of the color temperature spectrum, so it will attract the least amount of bugs.
If you are looking to replace your porch light with something energy efficient and bug-free, you can use this solar porch fixture with these 2700K LED light bulbs. Since a solar porch fixture requires sunlight to charge, you should make sure you don’t have a canopy that covers the porch before making an upgrade.
How To Keep Bugs Away From Your Solar Lights
If you don’t have the option to swap out your halogen or incandescent lights for something warmer and cooler, then you should focus on other methods for keeping bugs away.
Solar-powered bug zappers work great at both attracting bugs and eliminating them. Since they are powered by the sun, you don’t need to worry about placing it near an outlet or changing the batteries every couple of weeks.
They are portable, so you can put them anywhere. It’s recommended that you keep the solar-powered bug zapper within 10-15 feet of the light that you want to keep bugs away. This will give any insect that is attracted to the light a new and more attractive option when it gets close.
Keeping solar path lights away from your home will ensure the bugs stay away from your home as well.