Study says LED street lights are decimating moth numbers in England

Study says LED street lights are decimating moth numbers in England


According to a recent study, environmentally friendly LED street lights cause even worse light pollution for insects than conventional sodium bulbs.

The incidence of moth caterpillars in hedgerows along rural roads in England was 52 percent lower under LED lighting and 41 percent lower under sodium lamps when compared to nearby unlit areas.

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According to a recent study, environmentally friendly LED street lights cause even worse light pollution for insects than conventional sodium bulbs.

The incidence of moth caterpillars in hedgerows along rural roads in England was 52 percent lower under LED lighting and 41 percent lower under sodium lamps when compared to nearby unlit areas.

Also at the edges of grass, the number of caterpillars near LEDs was a third lower than in unlit areas, while sodium lamps had only a minor influence on the frequency.

The white LED lights are more energy efficient but produce more blue light, say scientists.

The study is said to be the first to examine the effects of LEDs in a real environment and the first to show the direct impact of light pollution on caterpillars.

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The caterpillars are less mobile than adult moths and therefore show more precisely the local losses due to light pollution.

Douglas Boyes of the UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology, who led the new research, was quoted by the Guardian as saying, “It’s a really impressive result”.

“We found numbers that you are not really used to ecology. Typically you might find maybe 5-10% changes here and there, but we have seen up to 50% decrease in the number of caterpillars in the areas lit by street lights.

“LEDs are the bad guys in our history, if you will, because they are not as effective at the moment, but also have the potential to be much better than sodium lighting.”

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