Patio Lights: Do They Attract Bugs? 

Summertime means warm weather, BBQs, and spending time outdoors. Patio lights are a popular way to decorate patios and decks, but many fear they will attract bugs. The positive is that many types of patio lights are available that help reduces the number of bugs attracted to your light fixtures. This synopsis will give you an overview of all the available patio lights and tips on choosing the best option for your needs.

Do patio lights attract bugs?

Are bugs attracted to patio lights? Phototaxis causes many flying aquatic insects to linger near light and water. Moths and mosquitoes are attracted to light; thus, patio lighting will attract them. Less appealing are LED lights that emit short-wavelength light. 

There are a variety of approaches to keep bugs away from patio lighting. Clean your lights periodically, cut back plants near your patio, use a fan to produce a breeze, and store pet water bowls when not in use. Plant rosemary and lavender to repel pests, or use citronella candles to create a smoke barrier.

Types of patio lights 

There are a variety of patio lights available on the market, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. When choosing patio lights, it is essential to consider factors such as power supply, durability, and, of course, bugs. 

To help you choose the best patio lighting for your needs, we’ve discussed a few of the most common varieties below.

Incandescent Lighting

Incandescent lighting is one of the most popular choices for patio lights. These bulbs produce a warm, inviting glow that is perfect for outdoor entertaining. One disadvantage of incandescent lighting is its significant heat, which can attract bugs. Additionally, these bulbs are not energy-efficient and have a relatively short lifespan.

The filament of an incandescent light bulb or lamp is heated to generate light. Sizes, wattages, and voltages all differ wildly with incandescent lights. Incandescent lights may be used in the backyard if not exposed to rain. Check the box to check whether the bulb is suitable for exterior use.

Fluorescent Lamps

Fluorescent lights like LEDs emit less heat, so they attract fewer bugs. However, they may flicker or buzz, which is distracting for entertaining. The mercury in fluorescent bulbs may be dangerous if damaged.

Another thing to consider is cold weather usage. Magnetic ballasts in compact and tubular fluorescent lamps may be damaged by cold. In cold conditions, pick a light with a cold-weather ballast.

Edison Bulbs

Edison bulbs are a type of incandescent bulb with a vintage feel. These bulbs produce a warm glow similar to traditional incandescent bulbs. However, they also make a significant amount of heat, which can attract bugs. Edison bulbs also have a shorter lifespan than other types of bulbs. 

LED lights

LED lights are great for outdoor illumination. They’re energy-efficient; therefore, they’re cheaper over time. They create minimal heat, so they attract fewer bugs. (More on this is below) LED lights are pricier than traditional bulbs.

When picking LED lights for your backyard or patio, consider the area’s size and how much light you need. Choose a hue that matches your décor.

LED lights – do they attract bugs or not?

Are your LED lights attracting bugs? The short answer is yes. The long answer is… it’s complicated.

LED lights emit a tiny amount of ultraviolet (UV) light, which is known to attract bugs. However, they also emit less visible light than traditional incandescent bulbs, which may help keep bugs away. In one study, LED lights were noticeably less attractive to moths than incandescent bulbs. So while LED lights may attract some bugs, they’re likely to repel others.

Of course, other factors can impact how attractive your lights are to bugs. The color of the light, for example, can make a difference. Blue and white light appeal to bugs, while yellow and red light is less. If you’re concerned about attracting unwanted visitors to your patio, try using yellow or red LED bulbs. 

You may also want to avoid using your lights during peak bug-activity hours (usually around dusk and dawn). These precautions allow you to enjoy your LED lights without attracting too many unwanted guests.

Solar-Powered Patio Lights – do they attract bugs or not?

Here’s what we found: Solar lights emit a small amount of light in the ultraviolet (UV) spectrum. And while most bugs are attracted to light in the visible spectrum, some insects can see the light in the UV range.

So it’s possible that solar lights could attract certain types of bugs. However, there’s no evidence that solar lights are more effective at attracting bugs than traditional incandescent or fluorescent bulbs.

Most insects are attracted to light sources that emit heat, like bonfires or candles. So if you’re looking to keep the bugs away, solar lights are a good choice!

Bug Zappers – do they work or not?

Bug zappers are incredibly efficient at controlling insects and may kill thousands in one night. Ineffective against mosquitoes and biting insects. Let’s explore bug zappers. UV light from bug zappers attracts bugs then insects are shocked in a grid. Bug zappers may kill individual insects, but they seldom diminish pest populations.

Studies suggest bug zappers attract more insects than they destroy. A bug zapper may give temporary respite from bugs, but it’s not a long-term solution.

Citronella Candles- do they work or not?

Citronella candles use citronella oil. The plant is utilized in mosquito repellents and insecticides.

When lit, citronella candles emit smoke that repels mosquitoes and other insects. This smoke helps keep pests away from you.

A few things determine how effectively citronella candles function. The smoke may not be thick enough to form a barrier when there’s a breeze. Citronella candles must be positioned near where you’ll be outside; otherwise, the smoke will evaporate. To be effective, citronella candles must be burnt for at least two hours.

Citronella candles: effective? If used properly, they may keep pests away from your open environment.

How to deter Bugs away from your Patio Lights

LED lights might be better
<em>LED lights might be better but might not be for your patio<em>

No matter what type of light you use on your patio, you can do a few things to keep bugs away.

  • Keep your lights clean: Bugs are attracted to dirty lights, so be sure to clean your bulbs and fixtures regularly. (Yellow or sodium vapor lamps should replace white ones.)
  • Trim back vegetation: Tall grass and weeds can attract bugs to your patio, so keep your landscaping trimmed.
  • Use a fan: A gentle breeze can help to keep bugs away from your patio area.
  • Put away the pet water bowl:  Mosquitoes are drawn to standing water, so empty any pet bowls when you’re done using them.
  • Plant some herbs: Rosemary, garlic chive, and lemongrass to repel pests.
  • Citronella: Used strategically to repel mosquitoes and flies. Combine torches with citrous candles for double pest-fighting power.
  •  Essential oils: Spray lavender or eucalyptus-infused water around your patio. Also another trick is making a mint-flavored mouthwash that can help repel insects.
  • Grow pest-deterrent flowers: Marigolds help repel mosquitoes and other biting and stinging pests.
  • Hydrogen peroxide: Make a pest repellent spray using peroxide and water. Spray the patio surface and border, but avoid food and beverages.

Get Rid of Mosquitos-Outsmart the Pesky Bugs

What is Phototaxis?

Phototaxis refers to mosquitoes, and other insects lured to light. Research indicates its natural response. Moths are attracted to flames because, in their native environment, they’re a wonderfully warm spot to deposit eggs.

Phototaxis lets organisms react to light. This might be good or bad for the organism. Moths, beetles, and stink bugs show positive phototaxis. This means they’ll follow any light source they see. Phototaxis adjusts light for photosynthesis and lets insects choose whether to travel towards the light or hide in the darkness. The fact that flies change their visual selection with their flying competence suggests they can analyze their activity.

How Does Phototaxis Affect Bugs?

Bugs are most active at night, so they’re attracted to lamps and patio lights.

Some research confirms that light sources with short-wavelength solid emissions attract the most flying insects. Therefore, the led light is superior for fewer critters. Moreover, freshwater insect flying stages are more sensitive to artificial light at night than land insect flying stages.

This is problematic since freshwater environments may be damaged by artificial light at night from human activity fun hubs like patios and backyards near waterbodies like the pet water bowl.

Identifying the most effective porch light color strategy for warding off insects

Blue and white lights are more appealing to bugs, while yellow and red lights are less so. This is somewhat true, but it could be argued after watching the video by Torsten Adair, who investigated which colored porch lights attract bugs, but since blue and green seemed to do better, I’m assuming those are LED lights.

[Torsten Adair], & Adair, T. (2022, July 4). Investigating which colored porch lights attract bugs [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved September 15, 2022, from


It’s safe to say that, while patio lights may not keep bugs at bay 100%, using various methods – from keeping your lights clean to planting herbs – can help reduce the number of pests drawn to your outdoor space.

So get creative to ensure you enjoy your backyard oasis without worrying about pesky critters!

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