Moths and Lights

In this, the final segment of our series about our night skys and the effects of artificial light pollution, , Clinton Gabbert, of the Greening Youth Foundation who also works with the Mon Forest, explains how light pollution can harm our nighttime pollinators.

“If you have a porch light or other outdoor lighting at your home, there’s a good chance that it is often visited by moths and other flying insects that are attracted to the light it produces” said Gabbert. “Though these flittering insects may seem like a minor nuisance to you, the artificial lights they are attracted to may be creating major negative effects on our ecosystem.”

“During the day, the role of pollinator is largely filled by bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other flying animals. These pollinators move among flowers and other plants in search of food, while carrying pollen from male to female plants, playing a crucial part in flower and plant reproduction. In recent years, moths have been increasingly recognized as a historically overlooked nocturnal pollinator of flowers, wild plants, and even agricultural crops. With the worldwide population of pollinators in decline, nocturnal moths’ role as pollinator is increasingly important.”

“Light pollution, or the inappropriate or excessive use of artificial light, has been shown to have negative effects on moths’ ability to fill that role of nocturnal pollinator. Studies have shown that disruption in nocturnal pollination has negative consequences for plant reproductive success. Furthermore, artificial lighting has been shown to disrupt reproductive behavior of moths themselves, which compounds the issue of decreased nocturnal pollination. Lower levels of pollination can have severe negative effects on plant abundance and diversity, which has ramifications throughout the ecosystem.”

“Luckily, there are steps we can take in order to reduce or eliminate excessive artificial lighting and minimize its negative effects on the natural world while having the added benefit of a darker and clearer night sky. These steps can be applied at home, but can and should be considered by businesses along with those who oversee industrial areas and public spaces.”

“Firstly, lighting should only be used when necessary. Secondly, if outdoor lighting is needed, it should be directed in such a way that it only lights the area where it is needed. And thirdly, motion sensor technology should be applied when possible to limit the amount of time that outdoor light is produced. Other considerations such as minimizing the amount of blue lighting and choosing light fixtures that shield the sky from outdoor lighting will improve night sky conditions.”

“By following these steps, we can limit the negative effects of light pollution on moths, while also producing a darker and clearer night sky for everyone to enjoy.”

We hope you enjoyed this series about an unusual form of pollution, artificial light.


Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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