Light usually indicates life, but that doesn’t always apply. It can quickly become a trap, especially for small insects. The light from streetlamps, in particular, can have devastating effects on ecosystems. Researchers are now tackling this topic and are trying to find out which light is better for insects. What they have found so far is that artificial light disturbs the sense of direction of these creatures. But what are the effects of a hot light bulb or a cool LED lamp? Which of the two is better? In this article, I will try to explain.

Insects orient themselves towards the position of the moon and the stars. But the streetlights get in their way more and more often. Their bright light looks like these celestial bodies and confuses the animals. Once they are in the cone of light from the streetlamp, the light holds them captive. They fly towards it and cannot get away anymore. To research this problem more closely and to get to the bottom of it, experts in Switzerland have taken on the challenge.

The scientists examined the effects of several types of light in three cantons in Switzerland. The manufacturers of street lighting construct the lamps very differently and apparently some attract insects better than others. Some emit their light downwards while others scatter it in all directions; some lanterns have a white light, others a more yellow light.

Have The First Results Been Confirmed?

In order to study the effects, the researchers installed a funnel under the lamps, which enabled them to see exactly how many and which insects were flying into the cone of light. At the same time, they experimented with the orientation of the lamp, its intensity and color. While a similar study had already taken place in 2019, the novel investigation should now clarify the findings. It showed that streetlamps which emit their light downwards and scatter more also attract fewer insects. The warmer the light of the lamps, the more insects were interested in it. Therefore, yellow to orange light seemed to be better than white light.

In the future, the findings will hopefully serve as guidelines to align the streetlamps accordingly. Now, when purchasing new lighting, governments could pay more attention to the effects on the insect world and thus protect it. Many cities and towns still buy energy-efficient LED streetlights and although these require less energy, they are more damaging to the world of insects. If the first study’s findings are confirmed, this will hopefully impact the consideration of state officials.

The light of the lamps
The light of the lamps

What’s more, the so-called light pollution affects not only animals but also people. Unfortunately, this includes the fact that the day/night rhythm is becoming increasingly blurred. This also disturbs the human organism, which has difficulty coming to rest. An orientation towards the needs of humans and animals would have another positive side effect. Of course, you cannot apply the results of insect studies one-to-one to humans, but we already know people prefer warm light.

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