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Reason Why Insects Like Moths Are So Attracted To Bright Light

Image Source: Unsplash

In recent years, moths have been increasingly attracted to bright lights. Researchers believe that this phenomenon is a result of various factors, including the widespread use of artificial lighting and the availability of food sources for moths, such as porch lights.

Light Is Essential for Moths’ Survival

Moths are creatures of the night and typically avoid light. However, they are drawn to bright lights because light plays a crucial role in their survival. For moths, light serves as a navigational tool, helping them find food and mates. While the moon and stars provide ambient light for many moths, artificial lights serve as beacons for specific purposes, like locating a mate or a source of food. If you notice numerous insects buzzing around your porch lights at night, it’s because these areas provide ample food and mates for them.

Moths aren’t the smartest creatures

It’s important to note that moths are not highly intelligent creatures. They lack the ability to think about the future or make plans based on past experiences. They cannot distinguish between night and day and have no concept of time. Due to this limited capacity for abstract thought, moths cannot reason that a light bulb will not provide them with food or shelter, unlike most other creatures. When moths see a bright light source, all they can perceive is a resemblance to their evolutionary predecessor: the sun. No matter how much you try to persuade them otherwise, their minds simply do not work that way.

Light Makes Insects like Moths Feel Good

Moths are attracted to light because it evokes positive feelings in them. Light is essential for their survival, and when they gravitate towards lamps, bulbs, or other artificial light sources, they are actually seeking food. Despite their lack of intelligence (they do not possess brains), moths have a remarkable sense of smell, enabling them to navigate in the darkness. This heightened sense, combined with their attraction to bright lights, leads moths to seek out these sources in search of sustenance. Since moths do not have eyes like humans do, but rather compound eyes that do not perceive colors or distance, their primary attraction to light sources is the intensity of brightness within the immediate vicinity. Any type of light will suffice as long as it emits a sufficient level of brightness, regardless of whether you are sitting outside under a porch lamp or a distant streetlight—they will still be drawn to the signals these lights emit.

Bright Lights Attract Certain Species of Moths

The attraction to bright lights is not unique to a specific moth species but rather applies to all species within a particular group. For example, the family Noctuidae, which includes countless moth species (also known as owlet moths), exhibits this behavior. These insects are primarily active at night when darkness prevails, necessitating illumination from sources like streetlights or porch lights to provide visual cues about their surroundings. However, certain types of noctuids may display a preference for light sources and seek proximity to members of their own kind. If you observe a moth during dusk that appears particularly drawn to the brightness emanating from a nearby streetlamp rather than simply flying through it, it could indicate its attempt to get closer and eventually rest alongside others of its species.

Other Facts about Insects like Moths

Moths are drawn to bright lights, but they also prefer being in dark areas that offer abundant shrubbery and plants where they can be in close proximity to other moths. This attraction to bright lights is not exclusive to moths; birds, bats, and various other animals also exhibit it. These creatures are reassured by the presence of bright lights at night, even in the absence of potential predators. Moths share this preference. While they may lack natural predators, they still feel comfortable and secure when surrounded by other moths. It is likely that they favor open spaces where they can encounter numerous potential mates rather than being confined to a solitary moth in an old shed or garage.


Contrary to popular belief, moths are not attracted to bright lights due to confusion or stupidity. They are aware of the dangers associated with light, such as the risk of burns. However, moths are drawn to bright lights because they seek the companionship of other moths. They are inclined to approach anything that emits a scent resembling their own species. So, if your garden is filled with a variety of plants, you will likely find a greater number of moths in close proximity.

Image Source: Unsplash

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