Need information on moths and light pollution

Paul Cherubini cherubini at
Sun Oct 29 16:22:52 EST 2000

I wrote:

> Ironically, a "hot spot" to find cocoons of the big Polyphemus moth
> in the San Francisco Bay Area is in birch trees that have
> been planted as landscape ornamentals around buildings in an industrial park
> in Union City, California. Lots of street lights are in this area.

Stanley A. Gorodenski responded:
> Paul,
> The implication from your response, to me, is that light pollution has
> no effect at all on moth populations.  

I just wanted to point out some moths like the Polyphemus can be abundant
in an urban industrial park setting with lots of street lights around. I agree
lights could have potential effects; both potentially positive and negative. 
But profound negative effects?

In considering that question I ask myself:

What are the #1 pests of agricultural crops in the USA? 

Answer: Night flying moths

In view of this fact I also ask myself: Has artificial lighting ever been used
as a means to control agricultural moths, especially in organically grown 
crops where chemical pesticides are not allowed?  

I don't know the answer to that for sure, but I can't think of any examples
off hand here in California where lighting has been pursued as a non-chemical
method of controlling night flying moths.

Likewise, I cannot think of examples off hand where nighttime lighting has
been pursued as a potential non-chemical method of controlling daytime
flying insect pests of agricultural crops - even in greenhouses. One could 
argue from a theoretical standpoint that all night lighting of a day
flying insects' habitat should adversely effect circadian rhythums
and photoperiod triggered endocrine system functions. Maybe so. But 
if there were just profound negative effects and no positive effects,
it seems to me artificial lighting would be commonly used as a moth control 
measure in at least some agricultural situations.

Paul Cherubini


   For subscription and related information about LEPS-L visit: 

More information about the Leps-l mailing list