Effect of spectral composition of artificial light on the attraction of moths

  • Published source details van Langevelde F., Ettema J.A., Donners M., WallisDeVries M.F. & Groenendijk D. (2011) Effect of spectral composition of artificial light on the attraction of moths. Biological Conservation, 144, 2274-2281.


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, controlled study in 2009 in a wet heathland in Noord Brabant, the Netherlands (van Langevelde et al. 2011) found that light traps with longer wavelength (warmer) bulbs attracted fewer moths and fewer species than those with shorter wavelength (cooler) bulbs. There was no significant difference in the number of moths found in traps with bulbs with wavelengths of 618 nm (average abundance: 1.3), 617 nm (average: 1.1), 597 nm (average: 3.0), 554 nm (average: 2.5) and 534 nm (average: 5.8), but fewer moths were found in these traps than ones with bulbs with a wavelength of 382 nm (average: 13.2). Additionally, lower species richness of moths was found in traps with bulbs with wavelengths at 618 nm (average: 0.9 species) or 617 nm (average: 1.1) than those with 534 nm (average: 4.1) and 382 nm (average: 6.7) bulbs, but there was no significant difference between 618 nm, 617 nm, 597 nm (average: 1.9) and 554 nm (average: 1.9) bulbs. See paper for abundance and species richness of individual types of butterfly. Twice weekly between 12 July and 25 August 2009, eighteen Heath’s light traps with 6 Watt T5 fluorescent bulbs were operated at night in a 2.3 ha area of wet heathland. Each used one of six types of bulbs with differing average wavelengths (replicated three times): actinic (382 nm), green phosphor (534 nm), warm white (554 nm), white phosphor (597 nm), and red phosphor either with (618 nm) or without white phosphor (617 nm). Traps were checked for moths one hour after sunrise after each trapping night.

    (Summarised by: Eleanor Bladon)

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