EXETER, England (UPI) — A new kind of street lighting being installed on British roads could be causing widespread declines in moths, scientists warn.
Brighter white lighting replacing the older traditional orange street lights is proving irresistible to moths, they said.
“If you use white light or lamps with a broad spectrum of wavelengths, then it will attract more moths and that completely disrupts their natural behavior,” University of Exeter scientist Richard Ffrench-Constant told The Daily Telegraph.
“They are not mating or feeding on flowers,” he said. “They tend to circle around the light until they get exhausted and fall to the ground.
“Habitat loss has certainly played a role in the declines of moths, but we have found that different types of moths are attracted to different wavelengths of light,” he said.
There are around 2,000 species of moths in Britain compared to 52 species of butterfly.
“Just like with butterflies, we have seen moth numbers declining dramatically, but because they are active at night, we are less aware of them,” Ffrench-Constant said.
Moths are also more vulnerable to predators, who find easy picking among the large congregations of moths that cluster around the modern street lamps, he said.