Artificial night lighting inhibits feeding in moths

  • Published source details van Langevelde F., van Grunsven R.H.A., Veenendaal E.M. & Fijen T.P.M. (2017) Artificial night lighting inhibits feeding in moths. Biology Letters, 13, 20160874.


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 2012 in a laboratory in the Netherlands (van Langevelde et al. 2017) found that four species of moth spent more time feeding under red light than under white or green lights, but less time than when they were in full darkness. Moths were more likely to feed under red light (5–14% of observations) than under white (4–11% of observations) or green (2–8% of observations) lights, but still fed less than in dark conditions (17–34% of observations). Forty compartments (30 × 25 cm, 60-cm-deep), arranged in 10 blocks, were randomly assigned to four light treatments: red, white, green or no light. A 1 W Deco-LED lamp above each compartment was mechanically filtered to the correct wavelength, and covered with layers of cotton to diffuse the light. Light was applied at 15 lux. On three nights in August–September 2012, one moth was placed in each compartment. Each night, 20 compartments contained captive-bred cabbage moth Mamestra brassicae of the same age, and 20 contained either straw dot Rivula sericealis, small fan-footed wave Idaea biselata, or common marbled carpet Dysstroma truncata (one night/species), caught from the wild the previous night using light traps placed in mixed forest. All moths were starved for one day before the experiment. Moths were provided with a 1:10 sugar-water soaked piece of cotton wool, and recorded as feeding or not feeding 10 times/hour for six hours.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

Output references
What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 21

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape ProgrammeRed List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Mauritian Wildlife Supporting Conservation Leaders
Sustainability Dashboard National Biodiversity Network Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Bat Conservation InternationalPeople trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust