Effect of spectral composition of artificial light on the attraction of moths

F. van Langevelde, J.A. Ettema, M. Donners, M.F. Wallis de Vries, D. Groenendijk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

189 Citations (Scopus)


During the last decades, artificial night lighting has increased globally, which largely affected many plant and animal species. So far, current research highlights the importance of artificial light with smaller wavelengths in attracting moths, yet the effect of the spectral composition of artificial light on species richness and abundance of moths has not been studied systematically. Therefore, we tested the hypotheses that (1) higher species richness and higher abundances of moths are attracted to artificial light with smaller wavelengths than to light with larger wavelengths, and (2) this attraction is correlated with morphological characteristics of moths, especially their eye size. We indeed found higher species richness and abundances of moths in traps with lamps that emit light with smaller wavelengths. These lamps attracted moths with on average larger body mass, larger wing dimensions and larger eyes. Cascading effects on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, e.g. pollination, can be expected when larger moth species are attracted to these lights. Predatory species with a diet of mainly larger moth species and plant species pollinated by larger moth species might then decline. Moreover, our results indicate a size-bias in trapping moths, resulting in an overrepresentation of larger moth species in lamps with small wavelengths. Our study indicates the potential use of lamps with larger wavelengths to effectively reduce the negative effect of light pollution on moth population dynamics and communities where moths play an important role.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2274-2281
JournalBiological Conservation
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • lepidoptera
  • bats
  • pollination
  • trap
  • conservation
  • populations
  • resolution
  • predation
  • pollution
  • ecology


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