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Biol Lett. 2013 May 29;9(4):20130376. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2013.0376. Print 2013 Aug 23.

Shedding light on moths: shorter wavelengths attract noctuids more than geometrids.

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  • 1Centre for Ecology and Conservation, Biosciences, University of Exeter, Penryn, UK.


With moth declines reported across Europe, and parallel changes in the amount and spectra of street lighting, it is important to understand exactly how artificial lights affect moth populations. We therefore compared the relative attractiveness of shorter wavelength (SW) and longer wavelength (LW) lighting to macromoths. SW light attracted significantly more individuals and species of moth, either when used alone or in competition with LW lighting. We also found striking differences in the relative attractiveness of different wavelengths to different moth groups. SW lighting attracted significantly more Noctuidae than LW, whereas both wavelengths were equally attractive to Geometridae. Understanding the extent to which different groups of moth are attracted to different wavelengths of light will be useful in determining the impact of artificial light on moth populations.


Lepidoptera; artificial light pollution; ecological impact; metal halide street lights; moth population declines

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