Pollution from LED lights is harming nocturnal insects

They come from everywhere. Of the cars that pass more than 80 kilometers per hour. Of the public infrastructure. Of the ads in powerful neon colors. The night, for some insects and their young, is no longer a resting space, nor does it help them to orient themselves with the milky way lights. In contrast, pollution from LED lights interferes with your natural circadian cycles, and affects your healthy development.

It is common for moths to seek the heat they need from street lights. They use them as a source of energy at night, so that they can continue with their activities at dawn. However, the constant brightness of the public lighting tires them, stuns them and prevents them from returning to their resting place.

A recent study published in Science, cited by the National Gegraphic portal in Spanish, revealed that UK roads with more lights on all night harbor 52% fewer moth caterpillars than 'adjacent dark patches'. This led the team of British scientists to link pollution from LED lights to the decline in the moth population in the country.

The team concluded that artificial light is unhealthy for nocturnal insects. In addition to interfering with their orientation, it inhibits their mating and courtship rituals. Not only that: it prevents them from reaching the flowers and plant species they pollinate, says Douglas Boyes, an entomologist at the UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology in Wallingford.

For the study, Boyes and his team of scientists compared 27 seemingly identical road sections in the UK. Some parts, however, were not as illuminated as others at night. Rather than focus on observing the mature moths, the researchers opted to analyze the behavior of the caterpillars.

In the same night, the experts collected about 2 dead caterpillars, caused by contamination by LED lights. The phenomenon intensified below the illuminated sections all night, while a less aggressive trend was observed in the dark spaces.

The few specimens they found alive were abnormally fat, which could indicate another deleterious effect of LED lights on insects. According to Boyes, this suggests that the constant impact of these stimuli favors unhealthy development during their early stages of life.

However, the researchers say that the reduction of caterpillar populations in the United Kingdom is closely related to light pollution. In the last 50 years, a third of the original total has been lost. Perhaps all they need is a break in the dark that today, unfortunately, they do not have. Looking back at the night sky, they can't even find the glow of the Milky Way.

 

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