Quantifying the attractiveness of broad-spectrum street lights to aerial nocturnal insects

  • Published source details Wakefield A., Broyles M., Stone E.L., Harris S. & Jones G. (2018) Quantifying the attractiveness of broad-spectrum street lights to aerial nocturnal insects. Journal of Applied Ecology, 55, 714-722.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Use ‘warmer’ (red/yellow) lighting rather than other lighting colours

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation
  1. Use ‘warmer’ (red/yellow) lighting rather than other lighting colours

    A replicated, randomized, paired, controlled study in 2014 in 12 woodland edges and hedgerows in southern England, UK (Wakefield et al. 2018) found that yellow high-pressure sodium (HPS) and light-emitting diode (LED) street lights caught fewer moths than broad spectrum metal halide lights, and HPS lights caught a lower diversity of insects (including moths) than LED or metal halide lights. The total number of moths caught by HPS (0–8 individuals/light) and LED lights (2–9 individuals/light) was lower than the number caught by metal halide lights (4–55 individuals/light). The diversity of all insects caught by HPS lights (32 families) was lower than the diversity caught by LED (49 families) and metal halide lights (69 families). At each of 12 sites, >100 m from existing artificial lighting, three lights were placed on 5-m-high tripods, 32–35 m apart, along a woodland edge or hedgerow (>170 m long). Three common street light designs were used: high-pressure sodium (50 W), LED (2 × 8 arrays) and metal halide (45 W), housed in matching cases. From July–September 2014, insects were collected overnight using flight intercept traps hung 20 cm below each light on one night/site.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

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