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Moths are strongly attracted to ultraviolet and blue radiation

Brehm, G; Niermann, J; Jaimes Nino, LM; Enseling, D; Jüstel, T; Axmacher, JC; Warrant, E; (2021) Moths are strongly attracted to ultraviolet and blue radiation. Insect Conservation and Diversity , 14 (2) pp. 188-198. 10.1111/icad.12476. Green open access

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Abstract

We carried out three choice experiments with 6116 nocturnal lepidopteran individuals (95 species, 7 families, 32 075 counts), each replicated 105 times during the seasons of 2 years. Moths were released indoors at the centre of a 10 × 10 m area with different lamps placed at each corner. In experiment 1, lamps emitted ultraviolet (UV) (peak at 365 nm), blue (450 nm), green (520 nm) or cool white (450 and 520 nm) radiation. In experiment 2, UV was replaced by red (640 nm). In experiment 3, we used UV and three mixed radiation lamps of different emission intensities (365–520 nm). We applied a linear mixed effect model to test for differences in attraction to the light sources. Among all counts, 12.2% (males) and 9.2% (females) were attracted to a lamp. Among the lamp counts, 84% were made at the UV lamp in experiment 1. In experiment 2, 63% of the counts were made at the blue lamp. In experiment 3, most counts were made at the strongest mixed radiation lamp (31%), and the UV lamp (28%). Patterns were generally similar across Lepidopteran families, and for both sexes. Moths are clearly preferentially attracted to short‐wave radiation. Even small quantities of UV radiation, emitted, for example, by metal halide lamps and certain mercury vapour tubes, will disproportionately contribute to light pollution. Since blue light also attracts moths strongly, lamps with a low proportion of blue light should be given priority in lighting planning.

Type: Article
Title: Moths are strongly attracted to ultraviolet and blue radiation
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/icad.12476
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12476
Language: English
Additional information: © 2021 The Authors. Insect Conservation and Diversity published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Royal Entomological Society. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution‐NonCommercial‐NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non‐commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
Keywords: Arthropods, conservation, insect decline, Lepidoptera, light pollution, phototaxis
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Geography
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10124324
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