Why Are Moths Attracted To Light


Although most flying animals tend to keep the light in the sky, lamps that attract insects tend to dive into nearby artificial light sources because they are mistaken for skylights. This is exploited by moth traps, which place a lamp at the right distance to catch spiral butterflies and send them into a funnel trap.

Moths circle the light source in an endless loop, while on the one hand, they try to follow it, and on the other, they feel the need to avoid disturbances caused by wind plumes.


Theories of lights and moths

  1. For example, if the light source is a candle nearby, the angle at which the light hits the moth’s eyes changes and the moth takes a straight course.

When the moth tries to escape, it develops into the light from the sun or moon, maintaining a constant angle to            the source. If it does, it turns away from the light and eventually pulls into the flame.

2.Another theory is that light sources that emit ultraviolet rather than visible light could attract moths. Imagine             disturbing a bush full of moths at night and the moths fly through the bush into the night sky.

Moths that attract artificial light and fire-related orientations could lead to disorientation, as they do not expect           the moon to fly directly toward them as a light source, and confusion could result.

3. One popular theory is that phototactic insects move because the light around them serves as a guide. However,            other insects, such as cockroaches, move because the light is phototactic. With artificial light, such as from a                campfire or porch, the angle of the light source changes when the moth flies.

Interesting Activities

  • When you light up your porch, you will attract moths up to 2.3 meters away. Turn on the light in your garden on a warm summer evening and you will certainly attract the moths.

Moths are at risk of flying from the sky into the light or at least tend to have a favorable reaction to fly down from the darkness.

  • Most moths are nocturnal, and many feeds on nectar from flowers that reflect ultraviolet light. Moths escape artificial light, and light traps are the standard method lepidopterologists use to catch them.

There is no explanation for the behavior of the photosensitive moths, but the vast majority are drawn to light by navigational snapshots, Saunders says.

Scientific Explanations

  • The position of the moon and the phase of visibility may have an effect, but most explanations assume that certain moths adapted to use natural light and orientation at night.

Some researchers suggest that nocturnal moths, when they reach a bright spot, are led to believe that the sun has calmed down and is asleep. Moths tend to stay near light sources until they reach them, and Saunders speculates that they tire themselves out.

  • Like many flying insects, moths are able to use light as a compass. In a classic 1978 experiment, Robin Baker and colleagues from the University of Manchester suggested that most moths were attracted to light, even when trapped on the ground and could extend from light up to a few meters.

The reason moths fly away from light bulbs is that they had to use the moon at night in the pre-electric world in which they evolved.


  • Other experiments in Germany, a region with light pollution, showed that street lamps attracted moths 30 to 80 feet away. In the last two cases, light attracted phototactic moths that wandered randomly between the light source and the small sphere of influence at night.


  • This behavior is called lateral orientation, in which the insect flies at a constant angle to a distant light source such as the moon.

A moth behavior consists of maintaining this constant angle in its trajectory since light rays released by the artificial source enable the moth to reach a single bright light source that can be perceived from a distance of only a few kilometers, as though it were a star.


  • There are a handful of theories as to why insects make their suicidal nostrils under lit candles or artificial light. Entomologists believe that moths zoom in on unnatural light sources because they switch off their internal navigation system.

Moths did not evolve for bright light; they evolved at a time when all light on earth came from distant suns, moons, and stars.

how it affects on moths

As scientists, we believe understanding why light attracts moths will help us understand why these insects are in decline. The problem is that trapped insects are adrift from their normal habitat and are forced to lay their eggs in plants where their young have to be eaten. It is the light that makes them easy prey, concentrating them in one place and affecting their ability to dodge bats.

In the 1970s, entomologist Philip Callahan, who worked for the US Department of Agriculture, discovered that candles emit infrared light, a spectrum of the same frequency as female moth pheromones, and also discovered that pheromones glow. There is evidence that males confuse the heat and scent of a candle with that of a female. But males are the more mobile sex and the infrared theory of light attraction does not explain the light attraction of females.

In short, male moths are attracted to candles because they believe that they are females that send out a sexual signal. Philip Callahan, an entomologist who worked for the US Department of Agriculture, also discovered that a female moth pheromone, a sex hormone, shines and glows. According to Powell, ultraviolet light is attractive to insects of various species, including moths, but also to infrared light.

We focus on the proportion of moths of each species accreted to different light sources during the experiment, taking into account the fractions of moths attracted to each light source. Differences in attraction to light sources are tested using a generalized mixed-effect model with binomial error distribution. Analysis of deviation tables (type III forest chi-square test) for differences between attracted moths and the proportions of light-attracted females and males as well as interactions between sex and light source (e.g.

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