Will a Yellow Bug Light Actually Keep Bugs Away?

Yellow Lantern Light

It’s getting to be that time of the year again, when the weather starts warming up, and the snow turns to rain. One of the consequences of that is bugs. A veritable plague of mosquitoes, moths, and other annoying insects that can keep you off the porch and motivate you to move back inside.

One common way to keep these bugs away is to use a “bug light,” a yellow light bulb that is advertised as keeping away all sorts of bugs without killing them. With both incandescent and CFL varieties available on the market today, do they actually work? Can you keep bugs away just by buying some light bulbs?

Incandescent Bug Light

How Bug Lights Work

As you might have read in our explanation of color temperature, light is divided into numerous wavelengths. Bug lights take advantage of the difference between human and insect eyes, in that many types of insects have trouble perceiving light with a lower color temperature.

In effect, the yellow bug light works by shifting the color temperature of the light further left on the spectrum to a point where it is nearly invisible to many flying insects.

CFL Bug Light

Do Bug Lights Really Work?

Now, do they work? The answer is both yes and no. Light is made up of multiple wavelengths, so bugs will still be able to see your light in some manner. Even with a yellow light bulb, some more bluer light will be emitted, which insects can see — they just have more trouble seeing it than they otherwise would.

The yellow light just makes it more difficult for them to see your light source; with any luck, those insects stay away from your house and go bother someone further down the block! However, bug lights can keep bugs away for longer than they otherwise would if you used just a regular incandescent, CFL, or LED bulb.

But once a few bugs find the light, other bugs are sure to follow. The best way to keep bugs away is just to turn off any light you’re not using. If that’s not an option, then using a bug light is a cheap, effective, non-lethal way to enjoy the outdoors with significantly fewer insects buzzing around your party.

Keep Bugs Away Now

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Nick Heeringa

Nick is a writer, publisher and editor for the Topbulb blog. Check back often for more of his writing on lighting applications and announcements for the Topbulb website and blog!