Illuminating Pest Control
Nothing is a biggie summer evening party pooper than bugs, especially bugs that bit. As soon as the sun drops they appear and usually put an end to the party before you’re ready. It’s no secret that Insects are attracted to light, but what many don’t know is that they are not attracted to all types of light equally. If your lighting solution puts out light from different parts of the spectrum, bugs will be less interested in invading your party.
When researchers dumped traditional blue and ultraviolet wavelengths in light fixtures, they found that insects were much less likely to come inside. This discovery is important as insects do a lot of damage and, more importantly, millions of people die from insect-borne diseases, like malaria and dengue. The potential to decrease the spread of these diseases by simply distributing new types of light bulbs is promising.
“The research provides proof in concept that LED lamps can be customized to avoid specific areas of the spectrum that could have adverse environmental consequences, while still providing light for indoor use,” says lead author Travis Longcore, a professor at the University of Southern California. “For places in the world where glass windows and screens are uncommon, reducing insect attraction to indoor lights is a big deal.”
For this study, Longcore teamed up with André Barroso. Barroso is a scientist with the Philips lighting group in Holland. In the study they compared bulbs customizable to different wavelengths with standard LED bulbs (which still produce blue light), compact fluorescent (“energy efficient”) bulbs, and a control with no bulb at all. The special bulbs attracted 20% fewer insects than the others, despite emitting a more intense light.
In addition to pest control, research has also shown that blue light is more disruptive to our sleep patterns and our basic physiology. Some scientists claim that exposure to night-time blue light increases our risk of cancer, obesity, and diabetes.
“The implications [of this research] may persuade lighting engineers to follow a new standard that extends beyond display, price, and durability, to include improved environmental and human health outcomes as well,” the study states.