Newsflash: LEDs Don't Attract Bugs.

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By Will - June 16th, 2009

UPDATE: This thesis has since been proven false; please see our more recent post explaining why, in fact, LED lights do attract bugs, just like other light sources.

Original post:  

These days are over. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)For some time now, we've been touting the benefits of LED lights - and celebrating their increased availability for standard residential applications.  Heck, even their increased adoption for non-residential applications - as in the case of the Clinton Foundation's retrofit of all of Los Angeles' streetlamps.

Turns out, though, there's another benefit of LEDs, particularly relevant in the summertime: they don't attract bugs.  Yes, you read that right: the LEDs that you can have in your house, right now, won't attract bugs.  So picture the moths bouncing off your windows all night as you sit at the kitchen table, the mosquitoes buzzing around the chandelier, and the (gross) little black dots in your overhead fixtures, etc etc, and then picture them gone...

Here's why: Most insects are actually attracted to the ultraviolet rays (light with a wavelength of between 400 and 320 nanometers) emitted by conventional light sources.  Conveniently, LEDs for standard residential applications just happen to emit almost no light in this range.

Just in case long life, low electricity consumption, beautiful light quality, and cool-factor aren't enough, here's another addition to your growing list of reasons to switch to LED lighting.


I don't know how I missed this article on the bugs -- this is very exciting news -- fascinating science and exciting benefit of a product we are already sold on! thanks for this! Posted by jayne lello on Oct 1, 2009 11:25am
Hmmm...I remember reading the exact opposite in an article. Can't remember where, but here's an example:, LED lights being used to attract MORE bugs. It seems it's dependent on the tuning, so this is one of those ain't necessarily so characteristics... Thanks, Mike Posted by mikerogersgha on Oct 12, 2009 1:37pm
this is fascinating and a DEFINITE advantage, especially in Maine, bug capital of the world (assumption from a bug bitten patriot)... I look forward to NOT watching the poor moths endure head injuries as they bump, continually, into the night lights of the woods camps and town porches, and wait, anxiously, to enter whenever an outside door opens and shuts..... this should be headline news. Posted by jayne lello on Jun 19, 2009 4:53am
Low-light, Northern Climate dweller here . . .I await LEDs cheap enough to use as "Grow Lights" for indoor veggie operations! Salads, and everything green, for that matter, require oil to transport to my front door, and I hope, by using local nuclear power, and LEDs, to profit from indoor hydroponics! I am also tinkering with the aquaponics notions, so where are the new cheaper high efficiency LED grow lamps anyway? Posted by Uncle B on Jul 23, 2009 11:43am
might be great for growing pot too!!! Posted by Anonymous on Jul 4, 2012 9:08pm
To Uncle B, I think indoor grow lights need UV to work well. If LEDS don't attract bugs due to lack of UV, it sounds like you are out of luck. Plants use light energy and convert it to tissue. If the LED uses less energy to make light then the laws of physics say that there is therefore less energy in that light. So regardless of the UV issue, it seems to me the laws of physics makes LED use to grow plants spurious. In physics, you can't get something for nothing. Posted by mark on Jul 23, 2009 3:15pm
To Mark, Or maybe they produce way less heat. Posted by Ziggy on Jul 24, 2009 7:27am
huh... this seems potentially false by my experiences, I'll explain. Last summer I was in ecuador and I had an LED based headlamp. After the sun went down, there was a CONE of insects swarming in the light of the lamp (the headlamp was my hand- having it on my actual head would prove more than disgusting). This happened with my LED based flashlight as well, and if I had either light on while I was getting into my tent, I would have to sleep with many dozen of the critters that had followed me in. This is of course anecdotal, and I don't intend for you to infer that this will be the case for you. In Ecuador there were quite the orders of magnitude more insects present compared with the US, and many fewer light sources to draw them in with. This may therefore be treated as a "less visible" light rather than a completely "invisible" light as implied by the article. Posted by Tez on Jul 25, 2009 1:13am
There are LED plant grow light available. I have no idea how well they work. Posted by Saber on Jul 27, 2009 4:58am
UV-LEDs are available as well, has someone tested the whether those attract bugs ? Posted by Shran on Jul 27, 2009 6:48am
LEDs come in light wavelengths from IR to UV. Just pick the right LEDs. Google UV LEDs. Posted by Dave on Jul 27, 2009 3:49pm

Thanks for all the great comments, guys, glad to see a discussion going. You can get UV LEDs, but most standard residential LED lighting emits almost no light in the UV range (with, for Tez, an emphasis on the almost; in the jungle on a dark night that "almost none" would, to jungle bugs, probably seem more like "a whole lot.") While the human eye doesn't register UV light, plants do; so an LED grow light would contain UV light, which would make it attractive to insects. Hope that clears up any questions; again, thanks for all the great comments!

Posted by Will on Jul 29, 2009 6:16am
This is NOT true. I repeat NOT TRUE. Anyone who has spent anytime in the outdoors can tell u stories of bugs dive bombing your LED headlamp. If u dont believe me try it yourself. Im not saying the same amount of bugs come at both lights but i promise bugs will still come. Posted by Coc Nballz on Jul 29, 2009 4:15pm
tranditional bulb makes more heat,that attract bugs Posted by ben on Aug 14, 2009 9:44pm
FACT CHECK PLEASE. Who told you that insects are only attracted to UV? If this were the case then they wouldn't be attracted to ordinary incandescent bulbs since they emit very little UV, or in any case a simple UV filter would make any light non-attracting to bugs while keeping it white. Note that "bug lights" are *yellow* for a reason -- insects are attracted to blue light as well as UV (google it). They are less attracted as you go up in wavelength in the spectrum. So some *yellow* to *red* LEDs might not attract insects. Maybe green would be okay too -- or better than white or blue anyway. Posted by David Rosen on Sep 8, 2009 6:08pm
Newp! Small misunderstanding in LED operation. Light Emitting Diode. They're so efficient that they produce almost no waste heat as a by product; almost all light. it like a cooler, more efficient sun, dude! (GIGO, by the way) Posted by Doug the Slug on Nov 18, 2009 1:54am
LED Infrared (IR) lights used with security cameras are notorious for attracting bugs at night -- to the point that standard advice now is to keep the light source well away from the camera to minimize repetitive clean-ups. So IR attracts bugs, UV attracts bugs, blue/purple attracts bugs, green probably attracts bugs. In short, most LEDs attract bugs. Posted by False meme on Feb 4, 2010 1:50pm
Just bought LED from Lowes to reduce the bugs on my front porch. Don't see any difference. Still plenty of bugs ;-( Posted by PuddinHead on Aug 15, 2010 3:52pm
I knew they ran a lot cheaper but apparently LED home lighting doesn't attract bugs. Works for me :) Posted by solartronenergy on Aug 28, 2010 7:39am
I have an LED strip in my camper van which has 30 leds in line. Each led is made up of a matrix of blue, red and green minature leds. When all three colours are energised it gives of a slightly blueish white light. When I open circuit the blue circuit the light becomes yellow. Less bugs are attracted. When I had fluorescent lights in the van I found wrapping a few turns of yellow celophane around the tubes attracted less insects. Re the debate about LEDs and insects, remember that leds are available in various shades of white -cool white or warm white etc and these will have different frequencies on the electromagnetic spectrum. Posted by Oldgreywhiskers on Sep 20, 2010 10:40pm
I am in the LED business and just recently noticed the difference. I have 2 table lamps in my den and one has a CFL bulb and the goose neck lamp has an LED small PAR. One night two large moths started to fly around the CFL lamp. I decided to give it a try and turned off the CFL, leaving the LED light on. Both moths flew off to other light source in the house and never came close to the LED light. Loved it. Just one more benefit of LED lights. Posted by Tuwago on Jun 18, 2011 11:32pm
Bugs are not attracted to warm white LED lights and bulbs, cool white, will for sure. Posted by rob e dang on Jun 24, 2012 4:37pm
Actually my office is lit entirely with LED and believe me the moths still fly in and go straight for the light it's no different then regular fluorescent bulbs. I also see them outside flying at the LED floods we have too. Posted by Scott Baker on Jul 29, 2011 7:15pm
Since we switched our outside light to an LED, we get very few bugs or none attracted to the light source. We had constant moths and june bugs bouncing off of the light / door/ screens....but after we changed over - its almost a bug free zone. Posted by Greg M on Sep 13, 2011 1:46am

Which brand, model or part number did you use?

Posted by Anonymous on Mar 1, 2015 5:38pm
We have a large property and I replaced 38 fluorescent t8 tubes and about 20 light bulbs and 4 flood lights with LED equivalents. I ordered different types / brands and light colors which are measured in K. It is obvious here in our part of the world that certain LED light colors ( warm) attract much less insects than some cool color lights. As not all insects are the same, some might be still attracted to warm LED lights as they might be equipped with different sensors. But one thing is for sure, certain "warm" type LED lights are almost insect free at night here . To get a definite clue we would have to invest into a light spectrum analyser and we need to have a look at the insects which still might go to warm lights. Here in subtropical Australia they are not many at the moment who do that. Have to wait until December to February ,our peak insect season, to make a more definite statement. But this is an area well worth researching . Oh, and our lighting related power consumption dropped by more than 50 %. (if you ignore the high initial purchase cost of LED lights ;) Posted by Alex_S on Dec 3, 2011 8:17pm

Very interesting, Alex. Thanks for the comment and please keep in touch on how your further research pans out. 

Posted by Peter Troast on Dec 4, 2011 1:34pm Thanks for that insight! Posted by Rob Huston on Feb 22, 2012 3:02pm
My finance minister will kill me if I buy a light spectrum analyzer just to study bug behavior after spending $1,700.00 on LED lights :) However, I will set up a light array with different LED light bulbs, LED T 8 tubes of various light frequencies together with some warm and cool light fluoros about 1/2 meter apart and see if bugs accumulate more around certain light sources and types and (hopefully) stay away from some of them as well when given a choice. That could be filmed, documented and published. I encourage others to do that as well in their parts of the world. When comparing results we should have a good , definite and fairly scientific answer. Posted by Alex_S on Dec 4, 2011 7:03pm
That could be filmed, documented and published. I encourage others to do that as well in their parts of the world. When comparing results we should have a good , definite and fairly scientific answer. Posted by woolrich jacken on Jan 9, 2012 10:03pm
What a wildly controversial LED topic! Posted by Rob Huston on Feb 22, 2012 1:59am
Wow, almost missed your update. It's important to keep in mind that there are so many other benefits to investigate though. Posted by Why LED Lighting on Mar 14, 2012 3:46pm
Thanks for the update. Posted by Peter Mal @ LED downlights on Apr 24, 2012 12:28am
Not sure about the bugs, but I've had no elephants around since going to LED's. Your results may differ. (Camden, Maine) Posted by Anonymous on Jun 2, 2012 9:51pm
I wish this were true, but my face full of bugs as I leave through my front door in NC says otherwise. Posted by Anonymous on Jun 25, 2012 8:44am
Since I have had LED lights installed over my deck and over the garage door, there have been no bugs!! They swarmed the old lights like mini dive bombers. Don't know and don't care why LEDs work. I'm just grateful. Posted by Anonymous on Jul 26, 2012 10:20pm
I also disagree with the statement because as above mentioned that the LEDs lights do not include ultraviolet range that’s why bugs are not attracted towards it. Whereas LED bulbs emit such light that attracts bugs. Posted by rechargeable headlamp on Oct 15, 2012 1:32pm
This is complete and total rubish. Bugs are attracted to light sources at night time. This is fact. And LEDs will attract them just as easily (if not more so, as they tend to be even brighter) as any other light source. I have had nats flying around my LED monitor in the night time when all the lights are off all summer long. Stop spreading false and useless information. That is all... Posted by Anonymous on Nov 10, 2012 7:32pm
You must have purchased the wrong LED lights. I live in south VA and for the last 6 months have had no bugs at all compared to the many years of onslaught I suffered on my deck while attempting to grill after dark. I purchased them 4 my son near the Gulf Coast ( where flying insects are a given) and he is amazed at the difference. Posted by Anonymous on Nov 10, 2012 7:44pm

If LED's don't attract bees, then what type of flying insect with a stinger (I know this for sure because my wife was stung on her little toe) is flying all over the NEW LED security lights we have had installed around our home? The certainly hum like bees, they look like bees and they sure do sting like bees, therefore they must be bees (of somekind). I just thought this was odd and turned to the internet for help, but i see there is clear division here. So I just spray them with bug spray until they are all dead.

Posted by Mark in Florida on Nov 14, 2013 4:11pm

It seems bugs are attracted on different ways like infrared (heat source, long wavelength), light, carbon dioxide and more.
With light they attracted to the shortest wavelength.
On long distance they will mostly fly to the light with the shortest wavelength since it has a big radius while carbon dioxide is faded quickly on distance.
Infrared which heavily generated by light bulbs are affected allot by weather conditions factors such as water while the snow white/blue LED continue to travel.

Posted by DieBoard on Jan 18, 2014 4:28pm

It seems bugs are attracted on different ways like infrared (heat source, long wavelength), light, carbon dioxide and more.
With light they attracted to the shortest wavelength.
On long distance they will mostly fly to the light with the shortest wavelength since it has a big radius while carbon dioxide is faded quickly on distance.
Infrared which heavily generated by light bulbs are affected allot by weather conditions factors such as water while the snow white/blue LED continue to travel.

Posted by DieBoard on Jan 18, 2014 9:16pm

Thank you Sheldon.

Posted by Anonymous on Feb 1, 2014 2:09am

What type of bugs are shown in the photo?

Posted by Anonymous on May 8, 2015 10:54pm