Better Patios with Bug Lights
We’re on approach to warm nights, vacations, and lots of outdoor activities. Unfortunately, the warm weather means an increase in insects and while bug spray keeps them away during the day, insects will always be attracted to outdoor lights at night, leaving you with a choice of bug zappers to fend them off or anti-bug torches littered around the yard. But, there’s one more option available: bug lights.
What is a bug light?
Traditional bug lights are just a yellow bulb. The bulb is coated in a yellow paint that filters out the light to only allow a certain spectrum through. This same coating, typically used in incandescent bulbs is also available for CFLs. LEDs don’t sport a yellow envelope since the LEDs themselves can adjust what color is being produced. While most lights on a summer night are haven of flitting, flying insects, bug lights have only one or two visitors at a time.
Bug Lights Don’t Repel Bugs
This is the sneaky bit about bug lights, they don’t repel bugs. Unlike bug torches and sprays, which release scents and smokes to drive bugs off, bug lights don’t push bugs away, they simply do not attract them. Most of the bugs and insects we’re worried about at an event (mosquitos for instance) navigate based on heat seen through the infrared spectrum. Bug lights avoid giving off light that is visible to bugs and, since they can’t see the light, they ignore it.
Incandescent lights are especially bad about attracting bugs. Between the heat output and easily visible light (incandescent filaments emit light across the full spectrum) they’re a beacon to bugs, drawing them in. CFLs and LEDs are, by nature, less attractive since they produce very little heat and already avoid many of the bands of light visible to insects.
In fact, LEDs are interesting since they don’t typically come in that ‘ugly-yellow’ bulb type. Since LEDs have a very specific range of light, they already filter out the light that attracts most insects. The drawback is that their higher color temperature is more likely to attract night-time insects such as moths which navigate from the blue-white light of the moon.
What are your Options?
- Incandescent Bug Lights – highly effective, again they won’t drive bugs away but they attract fewer. The drawbacks are the yellowish light and high-heat. Fortunately, they are pretty inexpensive.
- CFL Bug Lights – Similar to incandescent, but you’re trading the high heat out for a more expensive lamp. The energy efficiency and longevity of these lamps is nice as well.
- LED Lights – While there are very few LED bug lights, most regular LEDs are unlikely to attract as many bugs (some will still be attracted regardless of the lamp you choose and, of course, they’ll still be attracted to people and the heat from a grill).
You can also install a bug zapping trap for your yard. These traps typically include a smokestack that releases enough heat or infrared light to attract the more persistent insects and draw them in where the offensive insect is trapped and killed. Whatever your final choice, any of these lamps are going to help you when the sun dips beneath the horizon and your summer grilling hasn’t ended. Just remember that the best way to deal with insects is with multiple tools. Use lights, torches, and bug spray and don’t forget to have your yard and any standing puddles after rainfall treated for mosquitos regularly.