Artificial night lighting inhibits feeding in moths

Frank Van Langevelde*, Roy H.A. Van Grunsven, Elmar M. Veenendaal, Thijs P.M. Fijen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


One major, yet poorly studied, change in the environment is nocturnal light pollution, which strongly alters habitats of nocturnally active species. Artificial night lighting is often considered as driving force behind rapid moth population declines in severely illuminated countries. To understand these declines, the question remains whether artificial light causes only increased mortality or also sublethal effects. We show that moths subjected to artificial night lighting spend less time feeding than moths in darkness, with the shortest time under light conditions rich in short wavelength radiation. These findings provide evidence for sublethal effects contributing to moth population declines. Because effects are strong under various types of light compared with dark conditions, the potential of spectral alterations as a conservation tool may be overestimated. Therefore, restoration and maintenance of darkness in illuminated areas is essential for reversing declines of moth populations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20160874
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Feeding behaviour
  • Lepidoptera
  • Moth population declines
  • Nocturnal light pollution
  • Sublethal effect

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