bed bugs

Do yellow light bulbs really keep bugs away?

by The Bug Doctor

picture 32 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 picture 24 Do yellow light bulbs really keep bugs away?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 6a00d8341cbb0453ef00e54f2f592f8833 800wi 150x150 Do yellow light bulbs really keep bugs away?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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  • http://ww.lawmacs.com lawmacs

    Thanks for this advice i did not know anything about yellow lights how simple power to the internet

  • http://ww.lawmacs.com lawmacs

    Thanks for this advice i did not know anything about yellow lights how simple power to the internet

  • admin

    Power indeed,

    The world is a whole lot smaller because of it. I’m just glad to share what little I know and that it can help some people.

    Thanks for reading
    The Bug Doctor

  • KDK

    Hi — Do you know where to find outdoor flood lights that are yellow and bug-proof? I’ve searched online and can’t find them, and the search led me to your blog. Thank you . . .

  • KDK

    Hi — Do you know where to find outdoor flood lights that are yellow and bug-proof? I’ve searched online and can’t find them, and the search led me to your blog. Thank you . . .

  • The Bug Doctor

    Hi KDK,

    Flood lights should be in the same isle at Lowes or what have you but I’ve never looked to be honest. I found one on Amazon. Here’s the link http://www.amazon.com/Incandescent-Flood-Light-Outdoor-Yellow/dp/B0002AB156

    I have an account with them, I should put up a banner link.

    Thanks for reading

    The Bug Doctor

  • The Bug Doctor

    Hi KDK,

    Flood lights should be in the same isle at Lowes or what have you but I’ve never looked to be honest. I found one on Amazon. Here’s the link http://www.amazon.com/Incandescent-Flood-Light-Outdoor-Yellow/dp/B0002AB156

    I have an account with them, I should put up a banner link.

    Thanks for reading

    The Bug Doctor

  • Lars

    In theory, this all sounds great, but we have a yellow light by our dock at the cottage. Bugs and flies (and spiders etc) SWARM around it LIKE CRAZY!!!
    I found this site as I’m looking for a better solution.

    Guess I’ll keep looking.

  • Lars

    In theory, this all sounds great, but we have a yellow light by our dock at the cottage. Bugs and flies (and spiders etc) SWARM around it LIKE CRAZY!!!
    I found this site as I’m looking for a better solution.

    Guess I’ll keep looking.

  • The Bug Doctor

    That’s a bummer Lars,

    There are actually a lot of disgruntled people on the web with the same problem so at least you’re not alone. http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/archive/index.php/t-409867.html Sylvania takes a beating here Yellow bulbs do work on most bugs but not all of them. If possible try shielding the light or redirecting it. It doesn’t have to be physically attached to the light but perhaps a hanging plant on the front overhang of the porch ( I don’t know your set up so I’m guessing at a solution) Just anything so the light doesn’t ‘broadcast’ out to the wide open but still gives you light. If I find your answer I’ll shoot you an e-mail.

    Thanks for reading and Good Luck

    The Bug Doctor

  • The Bug Doctor

    That’s a bummer Lars,

    There are actually a lot of disgruntled people on the web with the same problem so at least you’re not alone. http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/archive/index.php/t-409867.html Sylvania takes a beating here Yellow bulbs do work on most bugs but not all of them. If possible try shielding the light or redirecting it. It doesn’t have to be physically attached to the light but perhaps a hanging plant on the front overhang of the porch ( I don’t know your set up so I’m guessing at a solution) Just anything so the light doesn’t ‘broadcast’ out to the wide open but still gives you light. If I find your answer I’ll shoot you an e-mail.

    Thanks for reading and Good Luck

    The Bug Doctor

  • Kenhaines1

    I would like more information about what type of insects. Mosquitos are my main concern.

  • Zed

    All this talk about yellow, but what about red? I know a lot of flying stinging bugs can’t see red.

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    Excellent point Zed,

    Red IS invisible to insects but it is also the lowest frequency of color humans can see. I’m sure I’ve seen some red light bulbs but perhaps for safety (who knows) it’s not touted as a bug light deterrent. Or maybe– Someone passing your house at night might think it was an ‘adult party club’ and that might attract pests you definitely don’t want. lol

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    Excellent point Zed,

    Red IS invisible to insects but it is also the lowest frequency of color humans can see. I’m sure I’ve seen some red light bulbs but perhaps for safety (who knows) it’s not touted as a bug light deterrent. Or maybe– Someone passing your house at night might think it was an ‘adult party club’ and that might attract pests you definitely don’t want. lol

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    Excellent point Zed,

    Red IS invisible to insects but it is also the lowest frequency of color humans can see. I’m sure I’ve seen some red light bulbs but perhaps for safety (who knows) it’s not touted as a bug light deterrent. Or maybe– Someone passing your house at night might think it was an ‘adult party club’ and that might attract pests you definitely don’t want. lol

  • http://www.garden-lighting-outlet.co.uk Outdoor Garden Lighting

    Hi,
    This is an awesome post and the reason I say that is because of the idea and concept of this post so very different. :)

  • Nelson Click

    I know the US Navy uses red colored outdoor lighting on aircraft carriers because it is the most secure.  In the sense that enemy ships and planes can’t see it from a distance.  Up close and under this lighting it is relatively bright.  However, nothing really looks pleasing to the eye with a red glow.  This is a problem that has yet to be solved.  If somebody can produce a light color that looks pleasing and will not attract bugs then they will deserve their millions.  If they can make it inexpensive, easily replaceable, energy saving and produces no heat then they will deserve their billions. 

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    Something like a lightning bugs! Cold producing light= very efficient. http://pestcemetery.com/lightning-bugs/

    That’s interesting about the red light- I think if some of my readers put one out of their doorway at night they’d be attracting a different kind of pest… lol

  • 9264336

    will then find a light bulbs that attrack MORE BUGS!!(:

  • JOJO

    I did yellow lights instead of the white ones on my driveway. So far, not much or a change. So my question is… My bugs are 95% outside little Moths..Have they gotten worse because our New England Nov weather this year is so warm? And will they go away when the cold comes? My garage doors are covered!

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    It’s probably just cyclical. Sometimes insects build up for whatever reason (behind the scenes) and seem to explode. Remember-the mating, eggs etc. happened before your warm weather so this has most likely been happening un-noticed for some time.

  • Eri

    I don’t know if you try to avoid endorsing certain brands of bulbs, but has there been a brand or type (or a couple) of yellow light bulb that’s worked particularly well? It’d be a big help—I’m a chicken when it comes to bugs and would really like to cut down on the swarms outside my door that I know are on their way!

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    No particular brand- but I think G E dominates the market on this.
    Thanks for reading my blog

    Good Luck

  • Lysh

    Is there something I can do about the gnats outside my door? Is spraying pointless?

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    You might get temporary relief from an aerosol, have you tried yellow lights or shielding the light so it doesn’t attract them from a distance but still allows you to see? That could help.

  • Guest

    yellow lights do not work, I live in the swamps of louisiana so trust me yellow, does not work!

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    I believe YA!–

  • Mrywilt

    got some yellow bulbs, and they do NOT work !  Just as many bugs swarm it as any other bulbs I have used ! 

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    Sorry to hear that

  • Eet0703

    I done an experiment at my house in the country with two small ponds near my back yard. What I did was put two CFL’s  colored red and blue and waited until after dark and checked on the bulbs to see how  many bugs were flying around the blubs. Now before I give the answer to that  I put white blubs in the same porch lights and it was a disaster with all of the bugs. Also yellow lights seem to attract about the same amount of bugs too. I didn’t count all of the bugs in each situation either.  Then I tried a red and blue blub and waited over an hour and the blue blub had some bugs flying around it but the red blub had about two small tiny insects near it. So I think color might have something to do with it but the yellow bulbs in my opinion isn’t as good as the companies claim. Oh I have a degree in engineering so I know how to do laboratory testing.

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    It looks like yellow bulbs are taking a hit. ;)

  • Greg

    To The Bug Doctor, I’ve found that it makes  HUGE difference on the precise shade of yellow bulb you use.  I’ve found that the darker the yellow, the less bugs. I’m in a very rural part of the Connecticut River Valley, an area that is swarming with bugs in the summer. My results using a white bulb – thousands of bugs. Using a dark yellow bulb – almost no bugs. Using a light yellow bulb – medium amount of bugs. Not all yellow bulbs are created equal! Ive also noticed that the yellow bulbs attract only 1 or 2 specific types of bugs, so if you live in an area that has a lot of those, probably yellow won’t make much of a difference.  The only problem with the darkest yellow bulb is that it make it pretty hard to see, so ive compromised by using the lighter yellow kind.

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    Hey Greg, Awesome insight. I guess I took for granted that yellow was yellow and wasn’t aware darker versions were available. I’ll be on the look out now.

  • David Macgregor

    I have installed an outdoor chandalier and the fixture takes EUROPEAN based bulbs. I can get the clear but want yellow as it’s not much fun eating when the bugs are swarming. We have used the yellow bug lights for years and they work great but I’m not having much luck finding yellow european based 40 W chandeleir bulb in North America. Can I get them and also it was suggested that there used to be bulb covers that were like a shrink wrap. don’t know where to find that and would it work? Help- my hubby put it up but isn’t happy about the bugs and neither am I!

  • http://www.facebook.com/betsymilford Betsy Milford

    I just moved into a new house and at night we get swarms of moths around both our porch lights to the point where we can’t open the doors after dark without 2 or three of them getting in. My question is, are moths one of the types that aren’t attracted to yellow light or is it worth a try? I don’t know anything about insects but these moths are about half and inch on average, some bigger and some smaller.

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    I’d say it’s worth a shot– if nothing else it will work on some others who may come visiting too.

  • Lee

    You all got it wrong…. Lights attract insects cause they think thir going to heaven… The guiding light..
    It’s sound that deter these pest….that’s right…sound
    Play the song tip toe through the tulips by Tiny Tim…
    It’s so horrible that it hurts thir ears…so they move on to the neighbors who be playing Beethoven or hopefully good ole down home country music..
    There’s Yur answer.
    Also take note that a SIGN not hurt as a back-up..
    Say (You lil varmits (pest) get your *** out-ta here or I call my friend RAID)……
    Simple and effective….
    Dudley Do-Right

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    AHA!!!! So that’s the missing link….. Love it ;)

  • Idontknow

    Isn;t ‘CFL’ flourescent which you stated attracts bugs? So will the yellow coloring block those wavelengths that flourescent emits?

    It seem to me that a yellow lcd would be emitting only the wavelenths the bugs can’t see as opposed to blocking the wavelengths with a yellow coating which these other bulbs attempt to do.

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    I’m not sure if ‘blocking’ is the right term but the color affects the wave lengths to a range that less insects will see. So a white CFL or other light bulb is highly attractive while yellow cuts that way down.

  • kegs

    I made my own bug lights that seem to work OK- Take a regular CFL spot and spray paint with yellow paint, I used testors Daytona yellow from a hobby shop-really cheap and lasts a long time…

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    Awesome–just make sure you don’t have any fire issues and I think you’re on to something… I tell folks about a flea trap with green bulbs. I’ve had clients who didn’t have green bulbs so they used magic markers to shade it green and it seemed to work fine. http://pestcemetery.com/green-lights-work-attract-fleas/

    Good work

  • harryzcat

    Yes, for 9 out of 10 mosquitos.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18209714

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    Cool–thanks for the link & info.

  • Karyn Ward Shine

    Do street lights work in the same way? Our neighborhood is wanting to switch from yellow to white and we are afraid this will attract nore bugs, especially swarming termites? Do termites see yellow lihgt?

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    As you can see by some of the comments–yellow isn’t as full proof as one would think. I do know termites in Hawaii swarm like crazy around street lights (white) but I’m not sure if yellow would have any real effect–since they spend most of their life in darkness I would assume any light might catch their attention.

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