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Taking a light bulb for the Moon

Taking a light bulb for the Moon

In creating the Base Camp of the 1000 Days for the Planet mission, Space for Life launched a movement for biodiversity. The ambassadors, people who decided to make public the action that they’re taking for the planet, are so inspiring that we wanted to share their story with you. Who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired and become an ambassador yourself!

Don’t know what to do anymore with the spiders who take up residence around your outdoor lights, or maybe the giant water bugs you find in your swimming pool? Then it will interest you to know this attraction of insects to light can be avoided. An insect lover sheds new light on the phenomenon – and suggests that we change our bulbs!

No more need to clean the webs with a broom

An entomological information attendant at the Montréal Insectarium, Marjolaine decided to test an approach that she recommends to citizens to avoid attracting insects involuntarily: change the lighting. “And it works! Since we replaced our bulbs with light-emitting diodes (LED), we hardly see insects here anymore.” Not spiders either, because they no longer have the light trap at their disposal to make hunting easier. “There are also yellow compact fluorescent light bulbs on the market sold for that purpose,” Marjolaine adds. The secret resides in the color and the intensity of the bulb. The intense white one attracts, the other colors, less. It’s as straightforward as that.

Fatal attraction

At night, insects find their bearings by using lunar radiation as a guide. Since the Moon is distant from the Earth, its rays reach us side by side. So imagine the confusion of an insect when it happens upon a beautiful big white high-intensity light bulb emitting similar rays, but in every direction! “He completely loses his orientation, is knocked off course, starts turning around the bulb, gets exhausted and falls to the ground,” explains Marjolaine. Moths and flies are among the most frequent victims of this light-caused dizziness. “Since they don’t live a long time and they’re often in a breeding period when this happens, something has to be done if we want them to complete their life cycle.” The attraction isn’t fatal exclusively for insects… Frogs, birds, bats and spiders: all of them move close to light and wait for the arrival of insects, their prey. These predators then adopt a behavior that benefits the tummy but puts their lives at risk. When they emerge from the shadows, they become visible and vulnerable to being eaten in turn.

The town of Mégantic as an example

Besides changing your bulbs, is it possible to go further in the fight against light pollution. “There are movements to reduce urban lighting. When you look into it, it’s quite impressive. The town of Mégantic is one of the first municipalities in the world to have passed this type of law.” It wasn’t on behalf of insects but on behalf of the stars that in 2007 Mégantic created the very first international dark sky reserve. Since then the town that is home to the biggest observatory in eastern North America can be proud of having produced a 35-percent decrease in light pollution. Changing a bulb is something anyone can do. “If I do it, it’s a question of values and respect for nature and for living beings.” For the sake of insects or of stars we could, like Marjolaine, take the road less lighted…Recommended light fixtures

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