Do yellow light bulbs really keep bugs away?

For years I’ve given the advice to customers who have bad insect problems to change the outdoor lights to yellow bug lights. Some have done this and the results were pretty apparent while others did not heed it and so the on going battle of fighting through cobwebs and bugs at the front door would rage on.

Have you ever seen a porch light on a dark night that is just swarming with tens of thousands of flying bugs? That light is like a shining beacon which attracts insects from great distances who are in search of food for the most part. This will attract spiders who set up their webs all around it and scavengers like roaches, ants and earwigs will take the opportunity to hunt the ground below for dead bugs that have fallen. Larger bugs will eat the smaller and frogs will show up to share in this bountiful feast while bats may swoop in for an easy grab and the party just gets larger until you switch the lights of for the night. (that is, if you turn them off) So what happens to the bugs when the lights go out? They simply go on looking for food but now they are so much closer to your front door and perhaps a light inside is now attracting them so they look for a way in.

So why the yellow light?

I’ve heard a lot of explanations for this; it burns their eyes, they get confused, the yellow light reminds them of the sun so they think it’s day time but the truth is not quite as exciting. The fact is that they just can’t see certain colors and yellow is one of them. Now this does not include all bugs but enough of them to make a huge difference in the numbers you would normally see with a white light. The reason a yellow light works at keeping insects away is because they simply are not attracted to it in the first place. Insects see lights that radiate ultraviolet and blue light best which include black lights, florescent, and metal halide. The lower the ultra violet and blue the less they see them and these include incandescent, high pressure sodium and the yellow incandescent.

If changing to yellow bulbs is not feasible then consider lighting the area from a short distance away or altering it’s glow. For example often times you can light a back yard for a night time pool party with lighting from the perimeter which may keep the bugs far enough away that your luau is not ruined. You may also be able to shield your front porch light so it only shines down and not out into the darkness looking like a bright vacancy hotel sign on a deserted road. Bugs love that.

The best option is a yellow bug light and now they are even available with energy saving CFL. So the next time you go out in the morning to get the paper and get a face full of cobweb, be sure to check your bulbs before you call your bugman, you may just save everybody a little time and money.

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About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.
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  • dafox

    The color filters the light so that it appears colored instead of white. I have found yellow bulbs don’t work very well, but orange and red lights work much better. Also, I’ve heard that LED lights do not attract many bugs, but it’s hard to find bright enough LEDs.

  • The Bug Doctor

    LED’s are pretty pricey too.

  • The Bug Doctor

    Good info..Thx