Question
Asked 13th Sep, 2016

What is the most effective light source to attract wide range of insects to light traps?

There are incandescent, fluorescent, etc. like light sources. I am going to capture different kind of nocturnal and aerial insects to identify prey availability for insectivorous bats in agricultural lands. For that, I plan to use light traps. What is the most effective light source for this study?

Most recent answer

26th Oct, 2019
Vernon Antoine Brou Jr.
Louisiana Lepidoptera Survey
There are thousands of publications going back more than a century about this particular topic. Personally I have operated a series of mostly high-wattage automatic capture light traps every day of every year for the past 50 years here in my state of Louisiana, USA. Altogether we have a trap inventory for our research of 450-500 traps of all types and designs. One solution is to provide many different light sources on a single trap. Five years ago I prepared an unpublished informational illustrated manuscript of some of these successful design I have produced and used. You may find it of interest to look at some of these. Using these I have attracted and automatically collected several billions of insects. My target insects are lepidoptera, but I do obtain tremendous amounts of most all orders of flying insects. My light traps have never been turned off since I began operating them in 1969. Most of my 407 entomological publications are freely available online in pdf, and I have pictured some of my daily collecting activities and traps for the past 10 years on Facebook. Link: https://www.facebook.com/Eudocima vabrou@bellsouth.net
1 Recommendation

Popular Answers (1)

25th Oct, 2016
Masoud Latifian
Agricultural Research, Education and Extension Organization
Hello Dear
Insects can perceive light in the 300-650 nm range, but prefer light that is between 300-420 nm which includes UV light.  A light’s UV output is probably the most important factor in its attractiveness to insects.  Since most insects are attracted to UV light, this is why most ILTs (Insect Light Traps, including bug zappers) utilize UV/blacklight bulbs as their source of attraction. Insects generally see 3 colors of light, Ultraviolent (UV), blue and green. Bright white or bluish lights (mercury vapor, white incandescent and white florescent) are the most attractive to insects.  Yellowish, pinkish, or orange (sodium vapor, halogen, dichrom yellow) are the least attractive to most insects.  When white incandescent bulbs were all that was available, the advice was to change them to yellow incandescent bug bulbs.  Yellow and “warm white” bulbs tend to be more like sunlight and are less attractive to insects than “cool white” bulbs that have a more bluish tone.  Red bulbs are even less attractive to insects than yellow, but red provides little visible light to humans and it carries an “undesirable” social stigma from decades ago. Best regards
3 Recommendations

All Answers (13)

13th Sep, 2016
Belinda C Martin
University of Western Australia & OOID Scientific
I've had good success with black lights, but you could easily test different kinds. Don't forget to place a large white sheet next to the light
2 Recommendations
13th Sep, 2016
Rafael Nunes
Ministério Público do Estado de Mato Grosso
Different light sources attract different groups of insects. I've collected in South America with black light (very good results for some Coleoptera (Scarabaeoidea), Hemiptera (Heteroptera) and Moths (Saturnidae etc.) however Mercurium light bulbs are excellent for a variety of Insects, mainly nocturnal Coleoptera, Hemiptera and Hymenoptera (Vespidae e.g.). Also have used LED, Fluorescent and Incandescent sources but never as efficient as black or mercurium bulbs.
Don't forget to place a large white sheet next to the light (2)
1 Recommendation
13th Sep, 2016
Rudolf Ritt
Naturwissenschaftlicher Verein Passau
Mercurium light bulbs are the most universal light source. The disadvantage is, that they need a lot of Energy (I have a bulb which needs 150 W). So the use in the field with a battery is difficult.
Less energy need black light and superactinic light (tubes). I have tubes with a power of each 20 W. Together they deliver nearly similar results to mercury light.
LEDs need the fewest power, but they are only effective, if they emit also the UV-range of the light.
Instead of a white sheet I use a "tower". The bulbs are mounted on a vertical bar, which is covered as a whole with gauze. 
2 Recommendations
14th Sep, 2016
Tharaka Kusuminda
University of Ruhuna
Are Mercurium light bulb and Mercury vapor bulbs similar?
14th Sep, 2016
Rudolf Ritt
Naturwissenschaftlicher Verein Passau
 No, this is not the same.
See here for Mercurium light: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mischlichtlampe
We call it "Mischlichtlampe", I think it is identical with "self-ballasted Mercury bulb"
It needs no cut-in-unit and no starter, like the classical "Quecksilberdampflampe", "high pressure mercury vapor lamp"
The attracting effect is similar.
15th Sep, 2016
Andrew Paul McKenzie Pegman
University of Auckland
I think LED and UV would attract a wide range of insects.
Andrew :-)
19th Sep, 2016
Sandun J. Perera
Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka
Hi Tharaka, seems you've got the answer by now. There is no universal formula of "light" for all insects. First you need to select your group of insects for the study based on your question at hand. Then you can filter out few options best suited for the group.
Good luck!
Sandun 
19th Sep, 2016
Tharaka Kusuminda
University of Ruhuna
Yes, Thank you very much all of you for providing your expert knowledge to resolve my question.
20th Sep, 2016
Rudolf Ritt
Naturwissenschaftlicher Verein Passau
25th Oct, 2016
Masoud Latifian
Agricultural Research, Education and Extension Organization
Hello Dear
Insects can perceive light in the 300-650 nm range, but prefer light that is between 300-420 nm which includes UV light.  A light’s UV output is probably the most important factor in its attractiveness to insects.  Since most insects are attracted to UV light, this is why most ILTs (Insect Light Traps, including bug zappers) utilize UV/blacklight bulbs as their source of attraction. Insects generally see 3 colors of light, Ultraviolent (UV), blue and green. Bright white or bluish lights (mercury vapor, white incandescent and white florescent) are the most attractive to insects.  Yellowish, pinkish, or orange (sodium vapor, halogen, dichrom yellow) are the least attractive to most insects.  When white incandescent bulbs were all that was available, the advice was to change them to yellow incandescent bug bulbs.  Yellow and “warm white” bulbs tend to be more like sunlight and are less attractive to insects than “cool white” bulbs that have a more bluish tone.  Red bulbs are even less attractive to insects than yellow, but red provides little visible light to humans and it carries an “undesirable” social stigma from decades ago. Best regards
3 Recommendations
29th Aug, 2018
Jorge J. Rodríguez-Rojas
Autonomous University of Nuevo León
Please, look at this work where we utilized LED (white, blue, red and green) and incandescent light traps. And we captured specimens of Diptera, Lepidoptera, Coleoptera, Hemiptera, Hymenoptera, among others.
Best
2 Recommendations
31st Aug, 2018
Tharaka Kusuminda
University of Ruhuna
Thanks for sharing new findings
Can you help by adding an answer?

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