Why Are Insects So Attracted To Light?

We’ve all experienced those lovely summers evenings, enjoying the warm weather and relaxing outdoors with our family. But then we’re suddenly pelted by bugs. And they seem to want to attack our outdoor lighting. So why do insects just love the light, and why are they so attracted to it?

This is a subject that causes quite a lot of controversy in the pest world, as no one is in agreement on the subject.

Phototactic Organisms

The way an insect responds to light with motion is called phototaxis. Moths are positively phototactic organisms, so they will move towards the light source. Cockroaches on the other hand, are negatively phototactic organisms, so they will move away and from the light and scuttle into a dark corner.

A very well-known theory is that unnatural light sources interfere with an insects internal navigation system. Nocturnal insects such as moths use the moon and stars in order to navigate. Therefore artificial lights knock them off balance. This is why we often see them floating round a light source in circles, being completely confused.

Unnatural light

However, this theory has had some holes poked in it. Unnatural light sources, like fires, have been around for thousands of years. So maybe natural selection should have plucked out the insects that behaved in this suicidal way. Also, a lot of moths don’t migrate, so it wouldn’t make any sense for them to use moonlight to navigate.

Another idea is that when an insect sees an unobstructed light source, it means that the pathway is clear. So the insect will then fly directly towards it to avoid any obstacles in their way. We’ve all heard that little clunk of an insect hitting a light bulb!

Scientists haven’t made up their mind yet as to why insects seem to turn into kamikaze pilots when faced with artificial light. It’s really difficult to prove one theory as the stand out reason, so it’s definitely a topic that will keep on being debated for years to come.

If you are having a problem with insects outside your home, contact Empire Ltd today for advice on how to prevent pests entering your home, and from making a mess outside of your home too.