Can the use of LEDs reduce the attraction of disease-carrying insects? The team at Integral LED investigates.
New research by scientists from the University of Bristol has revealed that domestic LED lights are much less attractive to nuisance insects, such as biting midges, than traditional filament lamps.
The results have prompted the team to now highlight the urgent need for further research on other heat-seeking flies that transmit disease, including mosquitoes that are carriers of pathogens that cause damaging diseases such as malaria and Zika fever.
How did it work?
The study, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and UK lighting manufacturer Integral LED, used customised traps at 18 field test sites across south-west England, illuminated by a series of LED, filament and fluorescent light sources. Over 4,000 insects were then carefully identiﬁed.
The results showed that LEDs attracted four times fewer insects when compared to the traditional incandescent lamps, and half as many as were attracted to a compact fluorescent lamp.
Notably, for biting flies (midges in the genus Culicoides, some species of which are vectors of wildlife disease), 80% were attracted to the filament lamp, 15% to the compact fluorescent and only 2-3% to each of the two different LED lamps.
“As lighting manufacturers, we welcome that a link between LED lights and low attraction to insects has been proven.”
Dr Andy Wakefield led the ﬁeld research in a project supervised by Professors Gareth Jones and Stephen Harris from the University’s School of Biological Sciences.
He says: “We were surprised by the number of biting flies drawn to the traditional tungsten lights. We don’t know why this is but we do know that some insects use thermal cues to ﬁnd warm-blooded hosts in the night, so perhaps they were attracted to the heat given off by the filament bulb.”
Co-sponsors of the study, Integral LED, were instrumental in the commissioning of the project, providing technical and financial support.
The UK company’s Marketing Director, Sanjiv Kotecha, said: “As lighting manufacturers, we welcome that a link between LED lights and low attraction to insects has been proven. The energy saving advantages of solid-state lighting are well known, yet the benefits to well-being are only beginning to be revealed.”