Which colour lights for bug-proof campsite lights?

Good evening ladies and gents,

I am building camp-area lighting using LEDs.

This weekend I was camping and using my headtorch discovered that the red coloured LEDs didn't attract the bugs unlike the whit LEDs... either that or being red I couldn't see the bugs at all.

I think yellow LEDs doesn't attract bugs either. Is it just the case of using yellow cellophane over white LEDs?

Which colour would be best - warm white or cool white?

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Reply By: Member - Moira S (NSW) - Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 20:20

Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 20:20
I've used yellow cellophane & has definitely reduced the numbers of the little critters
AnswerID: 483862

Reply By: Bush Wanderer - Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 21:23

Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 21:23
You can significantly reduce the bugs with the yellow lense, but no way to get rid of bugs completely.....there is always some spectrum of light that seems to attract other bugs.

AnswerID: 483867

Reply By: Wayne's 60 - Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 23:27

Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 at 23:27
Hi Ben,

There are a large number of posts on the forum about the virtues of LED v ORDINARY lighting, with regards to reducing bug attraction.

The bugs we were with over the weekend .... have no idea about LED lighting.

It may require a large light in the centre of camp, to attract the bugs ..............and low level lighting over the cooking pot.

It is a tough call ............. and different lighting has differering results.

Wayne & Sally.
AnswerID: 483878

Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Monday, Apr 23, 2012 at 07:02

Monday, Apr 23, 2012 at 07:02
Hi Ben,

In my experience, even white LED's don't attract insects anywhere near as much as a white fluro does,

I have a yellow/orange filter for my versalite fluro, but have recently invested in a versalite LED light. Over Easter, this one was used for outdoor use and didn't notice an abundance of insects, although they were cetainly about.

In the camper I use a white/orange LED strip light available from the ExplorOz shop.

The problem with filters is they cut down the overall amount of light available so LED lighting is definitely the go.

Try just using white LEDs first. That may be all you need.


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AnswerID: 483883

Reply By: KevinE - Monday, Apr 23, 2012 at 08:39

Monday, Apr 23, 2012 at 08:39
"Which colour would be best - warm white or cool white?"

I pondered on that too! I installed the duller one, but it's still very, very bright. Above the bed I have just 5 LEDs & they light up the entire bed area. In the tent part I have a strip about 35cm long & it really produces too much light. Don't get conned into buying more than you need!
AnswerID: 483889

Reply By: The Bantam - Monday, Apr 23, 2012 at 11:39

Monday, Apr 23, 2012 at 11:39
The reason that LED attracts less insects than fluro is that the fluro outputs quite large amounts of UV and the LED almost none.

You will note that most bug zappers use a UV fluro.

Red will simply be reducing the amount of light.

Red does not cause our eyes to iris down and our eyes stay adapted to the dark better...this is why there are red lights on submarines and in cabs of other boats.

Our low light monochrome vision still works reasonably well under red but our red colour vision is very poor( rods and poles and all that technical stuff)

A red night light in the camp is not a bad idea.

Yellow is suposed to be less attrctive to insects, but it is only partilay effective.

We see reasoably well under yellow light and it will tend to wake us up.

There will be bugger all difference between warm white and daylight( bright white) LEDs in insect attraction but you will see far better with a daylight colour balance and tolerate a lower wattage lamp.

If you are looking at making your own filters, forget the celophane, go to a theatrical lighting supplier and buy a sheet of theatrical filter gell, it will be far more durable and a far more effective filter.

The problem will be choice of colour....there are over a dozen yellows, then there are oranges and ambers.
I recon "rosco #312 canary yellow" would be a good start..its transmission is 85% in the pass band and deep cut below.

All animals have a patchy sense of light, WE see 3 bands greeny yellow, bluey yellow and violet......the rest our brains make up......we see almost no UV or infrar red

Different insects (and all animals for that matter) respond differently to light and see different parts of the spectrum.

The yellow/UV difference works for moths and most flying insects, but mosquitos react poorly to light...mosquitos respond to CO2 and moisture on the air.

As has been mentioned by far the best idea is to have a bright decoy light away from where you are, and either a coloured or lower brightness light nearby.....when the bugs get a bit much..turn the near light off and they will go to the brighter decoye..and mostly stay there.

But in the bush you will be attracting every flying critter for miles.

AnswerID: 483902

Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012 at 11:12

Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012 at 11:12
Interesting and obviously well informed post Bantam.

I agree that LED lighting is justified just on the basis of less insects than fluoro and they produce a lot less electrical noise. I don't think yellow filters do a lot for insects beyond that. But I do like the red lights on my head torches to avoid light blindness, and I might also set up a fluoro decoy light as you suggest.

Bantam, if I do a search on 'LEE Lighting filters' and look at international sellers there are lots of gel filter sheets in 21" x 24". Are these what you are referring to and is $15 inc delivery ( $6 plus $* delivery) competitive with a local theatrical shop. These may not be the best quality but good enough for what I want.

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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012 at 11:36

Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012 at 11:36
The yellow light thing and its reduced attractivness to insects is a proven thing but the important thing to grasp is "REDUCED attractivness", if its the brightest thing for 20 miles they will still come for the yellow light.

If you are running yellow lights and the campsite 20 meters away is running white.. :) ..guess what.

LEE is one of the 3 or 4 major manufacturers of filter gell in the world, for theatrical use I prefeer the ROSCO supergell because it cops the heat longer and the colour is encapsulated and I was braught up on rosco/strand.

But for the sort of work under discussion the LEE with be perfecly fine and way way better than domestic celophane.

Lee run a different numbering system to supergel......In LEE ( or other euro standardised gell) 101 yellow or 102 light amber I recon would be the go.

The standard LEE product will also be chaeper per square than supergel and a little thicker & stiffer, which can be usefull sometimes

The price you have is reasonable, the walk in price at most lighting shops in AU will be arround $16 a sheet.

One advantage of going to some of the bigger theatical lighting shops is you can often buy, off the roll rather than precut sheets, this is particularly good when you are making up colour tubes for 4 foot fluros and such.

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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012 at 18:21

Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012 at 18:21
Thanks, for that price I will buy locally.

Great information. Thank you very much.

Cheers - appreciated.
FollowupID: 759419

Reply By: Member - Jim G1 (QLD) - Monday, Apr 23, 2012 at 20:14

Monday, Apr 23, 2012 at 20:14
I purchased a metre long white / yellow from the exploroz store which has now been to the cape, Arnhem land, Kakadu , and the most serious insect infestations in Australia and can honestly say the yellow LEDs are far superior to White, not sure how cellophane would work, but the yellow LEDs are magic.
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AnswerID: 483948

Reply By: Cravenhaven - Tuesday, Apr 24, 2012 at 19:08

Tuesday, Apr 24, 2012 at 19:08
I installed both yellow and white LED strips over our camper kitchen a couple of years ago. The yellow LEDs are definitely better in insect prone areas, but I think it is partly due to the lower light output compared to the blueish colour of the white LEDs.

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Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Tuesday, Apr 24, 2012 at 23:59

Tuesday, Apr 24, 2012 at 23:59
A few years ago one lamp manufacturer was producing a yellow lamp branded Buz-away (or similar.) The idea was they were supposed to chase insects away. They did not chase them away but simply did not attract as many insects (as described above.) Those in the know advised they were not particularly effective unless there was a white light close by to attract the insects away from your area.

I suggest you try that trick, get a second white light and place it to one side and sit/work under your coloured light.

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