In-depth research

Moths are commonly attracted to artificial light. However this is not the only way they are affected by artificial light. Moths, like many other nocturnal animals, are adapted to life in the dark. Yet the night is becoming less and less dark over the last decades. Within this project we investigate how this influences the ecology of moths, and in turn how this may affect moth populations in the future. We found that the natural behavior of moths is strongly affected by low levels of illumination. For example, production of pheromones is reduced in female moths. Moths are less active, feed less and are less likely to mate when exposed to light at night.
Moths and their caterpillars are important pollinators and herbivores, but also serve as prey for other animals such as birds and bats. It is therefore likely that effects on moths indirectly affect vegetation or their natural enemies.

In a special experimental setup, we study the effects of artificial light on the interaction between moths and the vegetation.

In a special experimental setup, we study the effects of artificial light on the interaction between moths and the vegetation (photograph: NIOO-KNAW/Kamiel Spoelstra).