Lights out for the bugs

Little Belgium is famous for being visible from space at night, which is due to the fact that a large part of the country’s highways are illuminated by street lamps. Whether this helps to avoid accidents is a subject of controversial discussions every now and then. What is obvious, however, is that the countless street lamps cause considerable light pollution.

For us humans, it’s usually not all that bad if we have problems seeing the sky at night. But for many nocturnal insects it means certain death. They no longer use the moon and the stars for orientation but take the much brighter light sources on the ground instead – and fly like the proverbial moth to the flame. At the end of this journey, they usually end up easy prey for spiders and other insectivores or die due to exhaustion.

So light pollution is contributing to the decline in insect populations, which is also a major threat to humans. “More than 85 percent of all plant species depend on pollination. Among them are many plants that form the basis of the world’s food supply, such as apples, avocados, carrots, zucchini and broccoli,” writes the German science programme Quarks & Co. [1] Therefore, by using light mindfully and economically, we are doing ourselves a favour.

The easiest way to combat light pollution is, of course, to simply not use lights when you don’t need them. And that happens more often than you might think. So in addition to turning off the light when you leave a room, think for example of the insects before you put bright Christmas lights on your balcony. After all, a candle or a lantern in the window is just as beautiful and atmospheric!

Last but not least, the colour of the light is a crucial factor, too. Warm white LED lamps without blue light can be used to protect insects and save electricity at the same time. LEDs consume up to 80 percent less electricity than incandescent lamps! This way, the electricity bill of an average household can be reduced by up to 70 euros per year. [2] So, to become a Light Fighter, you don’t actually have to do much at all. Just give it a try!