Environmentally friendly LED lamps are contributing to the decline in moths, according to a UK study. This energy-saving type of lamp is also more harmful to insects than not so modern sodium lamps.
Moths are important pollinators and a vital source of food for birds and other animals. However, their total number in Great Britain has dropped by a third over the past 50 years, reports The Guardian. This is mainly due to the devastation of their natural environment, the use of pesticides and climate change. However, according to the latest findings, light pollution should also be added to the reasons for the decrease in the number of moths.
Light pollution results from excessive night illumination from an artificial source. According to a November last year study by scientists at the University of Exeter in the UK, the extent and intensity of human-made illumination of the planet is increasing by about two percent annually. As stated, “artificial light should be treated like any other form of pollution”.
The more LED lamps there are, the less insects there are
In a study conducted in three English counties: Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire, researchers looked at 26 pairs of hedged roadside landscapes. The illuminated and non-illuminated areas were separated by an average of 100 meters.
The number of moth caterpillars was 52 percent smaller in hedges under LED lamps and 41 percent less. lower under sodium lamps compared to nearby unlit places. “This is a really striking difference,” said lead author Douglas Boyes of the Center For Ecology & Hydrology Research Institute in England.
White LEDs are more energy efficient but produce more blue light seen mostly by insects.
According to the researchers, adult flying moths lay fewer eggs and are more susceptible to attack by predators as a result of the action of light. In their opinion, the wide range of moth species studied also suggests that the results of the study may be relevant to other nocturnal insects.
“We need a balance between protecting public safety and wildlife.”
– Light pollution is one of the few causes of biodiversity loss, but it is easy to remedy. We need a balance between protecting public safety and wildlife, commented Darren Evans from the University of Newcastle, who participated in the study. He added that the lighting should be properly designed, placed as far away as possible from important animal habitats, and it should also be turned on for a limited time.
The results of the study were published on August 25 in the scientific journal Science Advances.
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