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Moth Species Caught by Ultraviolet and Visible Light Sources in Connection with Their Wingspan

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László Nowinszky, Lionel Hill, János Puskás, Károly Tar and Levente Hufnagel

Submitted: 22 September 2021 Reviewed: 17 January 2022 Published: 26 February 2022

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.102718

From the Edited Volume

Light Pollution, Urbanization and Ecology

Edited by Levente Hufnagel

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For a long time, researchers have compared light traps operating with different light sources. According to the results, ultraviolet lights often performed better than visible light sources. In the present study, we examine the wingspan of macrolepidoptera species in relation to the catch result of visible (visible) and BL traps in choice and no-choice situations using data from the Hungarian light-trap network. We used the catch data of 19 light-trap stations from 1962 to 1963. Up to 18 stations belonged to the national network and the last one was in Nagytétény. We processed data of 381 species of the 18 light-traps data of the national network and data of 222 species from the light traps of Nagytétény. The data of the wingspan of the different macrolepidoptera species we collected from the websites of UKmoths (, and Guide to the Butterflies and Moths of Hungary (macrolepidoptera) ( We summarised for each light-trap station and each trap type the number of the macrolepidopteran species and individuals caught from different generations. Then, using the Mann–Whitney test, we checked for species the number of individuals captured by visible and BL traps, and the difference of the level of significance. We summarised the wingspan data of all the 381 species, the more efficient light source for each species in a no-choice situation at multiple sites and for the single site of Nagytétény the more efficient light source for species detected there. The BL trap seems most efficient for operation for plant protecting purposes, despite the fact that their use is far more problematic. Insect species are not only endangered by light trapping but also by the light pollution of urban areas. Our results confirm that the different light sources should incur mortality on different species to differing levels. Such differential mortality from artificial light sources could disturb the balance of life in biological communities.


  • moths
  • wingspan
  • light-trap
  • visible and BL light sources

1. Introduction

For a long time, researchers worldwide have compared light traps operating with different light sources. The results have been diverse although ultraviolet lights often performed better than white light sources. Catching results seem to vary with taxa and with the size of insects; so, it is not easy to assert that one type of light source is best for all occasions. Knowledge of the responses of various insect taxa to artificial light not only has implications for trapping techniques in entomology but also for assessing the impact of artificial light pollution on biological ecosystems.

Researchers have also examined the spectral sensitivity of the insect’s eye. Electroretinogram measurements are used to determine the spectral sensitivity of the insect eye. In international literature, several studies are devoted to the results of laboratory measurements carried out on various species. No reports of such experiments are known in Hungary, and data on the most important Hungarian pestilent species are also missing from the international literature on the subject.

Few researchers have examined the relationship of the body or eye size with the selection of light sources.

Different light sources are used in the various types of light traps. The light source determines the running temperature, the colour temperature, and the spectral distribution of the light energy that it emits. Some sources such as black light (BL) emit mainly in the ultraviolet wavelength range (320–400 nm), some such as normal or white light (V) emit in the visible range (400–700 nm), and some such as mercury vapour (Hg) emit across ultraviolet and visible wavelengths (200–600 nm). Some sources emit or are filtered to a narrow range of wavelengths such as particular colours visible to the human eye.

Mikkola [1] established that moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera) and caddis fly species (Trichoptera) have an eye sensitivity that remains practically unchanged in the 350–600 nm spectrum. Its maximum is around 550 nm (green, same as the value of the human eye during daytime). The sensitivity is greatly reduced at about 620 nm (orange-red). McFarlane and Eaton [2] have reported that the responses of Cabbage Looper (Trichoplusia ni Hbn.) to monochromatic light stimuli have been investigated by electroretinogram (ERG) and electromyogram (EMG) techniques. The spectral sensitivity curves for male and female Cabbage Loppers show a major peak at 540–550 nm and a minor peak in the ultraviolet range at 360 nm. Agee [3] showed by electroretinogram tests that the sensitivity of eyes of the Bollworm Moth (Heliothis zea Boddie) and Tobacco Bollworm (Heliothis virescens F.) to 365 nm and 480–575 nm wavelengths light is the highest.

Pappas and Eaton [4] found that the ocelli of the Tobacco Hornworm (Manduca sexta L.) are more sensitive to 520 nm light than to 360 nm light stimuli. Similar results are reported by Eguchi et al. [5] about the Sphingid moths. These moths possess the highest peak sensitivity at 540 nm.

Gui et al. [6] reported that the colours on which comparable data are available to arrange themselves in order of least to most attractiveness to insects as red, yellow, white, and blue. From tests of Taylor and Deay [7], it appears that the maximum attractiveness for the European Corn Borer (Ostrinia nubilalis Hbn.) is in the near-ultraviolet region between 320 and 380 nm.

Many researchers found that ultraviolet or black light was most effective in catching insects but for some taxa, a combination of ultraviolet and visible light was more effective while a few taxa were best trapped by using visible light alone.

In a comparative experiment, Frost [8] found that black light attracted almost all taxa of insects more than white light. The exceptions were the Miridae and Chrysopidae, which preferred white light. Belton and Kempster [9] (1963) caught more Noctuidae and Geometridae with a BL fluorescent tube than with the normal or cold white light (N). Sifter [10] examined the swarming of the Chestnut Weevil (Curculio elephas Gyllenhal, Coleoptera: Curculionidae) by using visible and BL light traps. The body length of this beetle is only 6–9 mm. The normal light trap did not catch a single specimen but the BL one was suitable for investigation of swarming. According to Bürgés et al. [11], those families (Geometridae, Sphingidae, Notodontidae, Arctiidae, and Noctuidae) that are rich in species fly to both normal and BL light traps, but the BL traps catch significantly more species and more specimens of many species [12] studied the efficiency of catching useful or beneficial insects by using different light sources. The Coccinellidae (Coleoptera) species preferred BL, the Ophion sp. (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae) preferred blue BL while Chrysopa spp. (Neuroptera: Chrysopidae) was trapped equally well with white and BL light, while every source of light had the same impact on some broad damsel bugs (Hemiptera: Nabidae) and the lacewings, Hemerobius spp. (Neuroptera: Hemerobiidae). Comparative studies [13] found each of several Microlepidoptera species was more effectively collected in BL traps than normal ones. In our earlier study [14], we compared in two light-trap stations, the composition of species of five macrolepidopteran families from the material of normal and BL light traps by applying the Sorensen index. The results are the follows: Geometridae: 0.607 and 0.518; Sphingidae: 0.750 and 0.500; Notodontidae: 0.444 and 0.429; Arctiidae: 0.714 and 0.609; Noctuidae: 0.608 and 0.527.

Some authors found ultraviolet light more effective than particular wavelengths of visible light in trapping insects. In the test of Day and Reid [15], the 15 W fluorescent BL lamps were more efficient for capturing Conoderus falli Lane (Coleoptera: Elateridae) than similar yellow sources. Teel et al. [16] perceived the maximum sensitivity of the eye of Hickory Shuckworm (Laspeyresia caryana Fitch.) at 365 nm and 515 nm. At these two values, six times as many individuals responded to the near-ultraviolet light than to the green light. Skuhravý et al. [17] found a BL trap much more effective than either yellow, green, or red light in collecting the Saddle Gall Midge (Haplodiplosis marginata von Roser) (Diptera: Cecidomydae).

Some authors found a combination of ultraviolet and visible wavelengths to be most effective. Cleve [18] found an ultraviolet fluorescent lamp (BL) that was very attractive to insects if it illuminated a white sheet. Similarly, Belton and Kempster [19] verified the results of their laboratory measurements of eye sensitivity by the test of light-trap collecting. They caught the highest number of insects with lamps emitting both BL and visible light. The catch dwindled when they used BL alone while visible light alone produced an even poorer result. A striking contradiction was found, however, for the six most important insect groups (Coleoptera, Trichoptera, Lepidoptera, Brachycera, and Nematocera Ichneumonoidea) in terms of sensitivity and attractive lighting effect. These insects’ eyes were more sensitive to the yellow light but the attractive effect was the opposite.

Some authors found visible light to be more effective than ultraviolet light in trapping certain insects. Jászainé [20] analysed the catching results of Common Meadow Bug (Exolygus pratensis Wagner) (Heteroptera: Miridae) in normal (V) and ultraviolet light traps (BL) to find the former caught more individuals. Other taxa showing a greater attraction to regular light include some fruit flies [21] virus vector cicadae (Laodelphax striatella (Fallén) and Javesella pellucida (Fabr., Homoptera, Areopidae) [22] European Grapevine Moth (Lobesia botrana Den. et Schiff.) and Vine Moth (Eupoecilia ambiguella Hbn. [23].

Some authors included light sources, such as mercury and sodium in their experiments. For [24] the standard light trap caught only a few specimens of the Eurasian Hemp Moths (Grapholita delineana Walker) while a HgLS light source caught many of these moths. The wingspan of the Eurasian Hemp Moths is 10–14 mm.

Blomberg et al. [25] compared two types of light trap catch results. One of them was the so-called blended light trap containing a 160 W Tungsram mercury fluorescent lamp emitting ultraviolet and visible light. The BL was provided with a 125 W Philips HPW lamp. The mercury fluorescent lamp caught twice as many moths of the macrolepidoptera (families Geometridae and Noctuidae), and the microlepidopteran species as the BL trap.

According to Gál et al. and Bürgés [26, 27, 28] for light trapping of Chestnut Weevil (Curculio elephas Gyllenhal) and Acorn Moth (Cydia splendana Hbn.) the most effective light source is the mercury vapour lamp (HgW). Traps with visible or BL lamps achieved comparable catches to each other but less than the mercury source, which produces both ultraviolet and visible light.

Extremely valuable conclusions follow from a series of experiments by Járfás et al., Járfás and Tóth [29, 30] in which catch results yielded by 125 W (HgVE 27) ultraviolet, 125 W (HgLSE27) mercury vapour, 100 W (OHP 220–230 VAO) krypton, 100 W (F3) 50 cm neon, 250 W (E 279043 IMP) infraruby, and 50 cm germicidal lamps were compared. Silver Y moths (Autographa gamma L.), Pine Chafers (Polyphylla fullo L.), Vine Chafers (Anomala vitis Fabr.), and Scarab Beetles (Anoxia orientalis Kryniczky) flew to the mercury vapour lamps in the highest numbers, while infraruby light proved to be practically unsuitable for trapping. Járfás published further results of his experiments on different moth species. Most suitable for catching was the mercury lamp (HgW) ahead of BL which was better than visible or visible light for the Silver Y (A. gamma L.) [29], the Codling Moth (Cydia pomonella L.) [31], the Pea Podborer (Etiella zinckenella Tr.) [32] and the Beet Webworm (Loxostege sticticalis L.) [33]. Also, Járfás [34] reported that the Apple Peel Tortrix (Adoxophyes reticulana Hbn.), the Pear Moth (Laspeyresia pyrivora Pan.), and the Plum Fruit Moth (Grapholita funebrana Tr.) can be best caught with the mercury vapour lamp (HgW) but for the Strawberry Tortricid (Pandemis dumetana Tr.) and the Dark Fruit-tree Tortrix (Pandemis heparana Den. et Schiff.) the visible light bulb was most effective. Similarly, the European Corn Borer (O. nubilalis Hbn.) was collected in the HgW traps more successfully than in the visible and the BL traps [35].

Wallner et al. [36] carried out experiments with three lymantriid species in the Russian Far East. They caught significantly more moths of all three species using fluorescent black light than either phosphor mercury or high-pressure sodium lamps. The species were Gipsy Moth (Lymantria dispar L.), Nun Moth (Lymantria monaca L.), and the Pink Gipsy Moth (Lymantria matura Moore).

Fayle et al. [37] compared three types of Robinson light traps equipped with 125 W mercury bulb, which emits visible and ultraviolet light. One of these light sources included materials that absorb visible light; so, this lamp was an ultraviolet or BL type trap. The fewest moths were caught by the BL trap. Barghini [38] tested four light sources. Most insects were caught using the high-pressure mercury lamp (Hg). A further order was as follows—high-pressure sodium (Na) without a BL filter and the same type with BL filter.

In the last decade, most researchers found a connection between the body size of the insects, expressed as body weight, eye size or wingspan, and their light sensitivity. Taxa with larger eyes and wingspan have higher light sensitivity than those with smaller eyes. Over the last decade, published studies supported the finding that the vision of insects with greater body weight is more sensitive than the smaller species. Such a statement was published concerning desert ants (Cataglyphis) [39]; pollen foraging bees, (Apoidea) [40] the bumblebees (Bombus terrestris L.) [41, 42]; the nymphalid butterflies (Nymphalidae) [43]. Moser et al. [44] found a connection between the size of the eyes of 10 Atta species (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and the time of nuptial flight using the digital photograph method. The diameter of compound eyes of the night flying species was significantly larger. Yack et al. [45] reported similar results in the Macrosoma eliconiaria Walker (Lepidoptera: Hedyloidea) species.

Experiments of Kino and Oshima [46] suggest that moth and butterfly emanations could cause allergy-induced bronchial asthma in certain patients. Since moths are attracted readily to artificial lights and often fly into houses, these insects are especially suspect as important factors in extrinsic asthma. Barghini and Medeiros [47] (2010) assumed that in developing countries, the growing light pollution will affect the spread of vector-borne human diseases as well.

van Langevelde et al. [48] established that artificial light with smaller wavelengths attracted more individuals and greater specific diversity of insects than light with larger wavelengths. The attraction was correlated with the body mass, wingspan, and eye size of moths. The size-dependent response to artificial light sources is likely to distort the ecosystems if it generates selective mortality.

In the above-mentioned studies, the catch coming from parallel operated regular and BL light traps offered a unique possibility to answer the following questions.

  • Is there a significant difference by species and families between the catch yielded by the two types of traps?

  • Which of the two light sources is more suitable for trapping what species?

  • Are there any species that can only be collected by one of the two types of light sources?

  • Does either of the two types indicate the presence of more species than the other?

  • To what extent do the materials yielded by the two types of traps at the same observation site differ in their composition by species?

In the present study, we examined the wingspan of macrolepidopteran species in relation to the catch result of visible and BL traps in choice and no-choice situations using data from the Hungarian light-trap network.


2. Material

To compare the differences in the practical use of visible and BL light traps, from 1962, the Hungarian Plant Protection Research Institute at Keszthely experimented with the parallel operation of two light traps, one running on a visible bulb producing mainly visible light and the other outfitted with BL light-emitting mainly ultraviolet light. Also in 1962, the Plant Protection Service, in its turn, added a BL light trap in Nagytétény to the ones running on visible light, and equipped all its county plant protection stations also with BL traps in 1963. The national network of parallel operated visible and BL light traps opened up the possibility to a wide-scale examination of the results and usefulness of collecting with the two types. Most valuable information was provided by the light traps at Nagytétény where regular and BL traps were placed at a mere 10 metres distance from one another. The proximity of the two traps meant an identity of the microclimate, vegetation, and the distance from the habitats of the various species and so the insects were practically offered the choice of the two different light sources. At other sites, the visible and BL traps were separated by a distance greater than their likely radius of effect and so did not offer a choice situation to insects.

The visible and BL light traps operated in the following cities and villages:

Baj (47°38′N, 18°21′E)Mikepércs (47°26′N, 21°37′E)
Csopak (45°58′N, 17°55′E)Miskolc (48°51′N, 20°46′E)
Fácánkert (46°26′N, 18°44′E)Nagytétény (47°38′N, 18°97′E)
Gyöngyös (47°46′N, 19°55′E)Pacsa (46°43′N, 17°09′E)
Győr-Kismegyer (47°39′N, 17°39′E)Szederkény (45°59′N, 18°27′E)
Hódmezővásárhely (46°25′N, 20°19′E)Tanakajd (47°11′N, 16°44′E)
Kaposvár (46°22′N, 17°46′E)Tarhos (46°48′N, 21°12′E)
Kállósemjén (47°51′N, 21°55′E)Tass (47°12′N, 19°20′E)
Kenderes (47°13′N, 20°45′E)Velence (47°14′N, 18°38′E)
Keszthely (46°46′N, 17°15′E)

The complete macrolepidopteran material of above-listed light traps was processed in our work. We processed data of 381 species of the 18 light-traps data of the national network and data of 222 species from the light traps of Nagytétény.

The data of the wingspan of the different Macrolepidoptera species we collected from the websites of UKmoths (, and Guide to the Butterflies and Moths of Hungary (macrolepidoptera) (


3. Methods

We summarise for each light-trap station and each trap type the number of the macrolepidopteran species and individuals caught from different generations but did not separate the individuals into generations. Then, using the Mann–Whitney test, we checked for species the number of individuals captured by visible and BL traps, and the difference of the level of significance. The theoretical bases of the test and its application were shown by Hajtman et al. [49, 50] in detail. We created a common sample in the course of the procedure, which included all of the observation sites. The element number of the sample is twice the number of observation sites (because two traps were in operation at every station), at which one of the traps revealed the presence of a species. We sum it up by segregating the numbers of individuals in the unified sample. We compared these values with the table value to determine the difference and its level of significance.

Particular attention was paid to the comparison of catches at Nagytétény in the visible and BL traps which were in close proximity, with identical micro-climate, vegetation, and habitat, so that the moths could choose between different light sources at one place.

In the taxonomic sequence, we tabulate all species for wingspan and preferred type of light trap. We separate in this table the light traps of the nationwide network (no-choice situations) from the light traps at Nagytétény (choice situation).

For graphical analysis, we arranged in ascending order, regardless of their taxonomic place, all the species collected both by the national light-trap network, as well as the Nagytétény traps according to the wingspan of insects. We calculated the percentages of species caught by BL and visible traps in relation to the sum of data of the network and also Nagytétény. We calculated the approaching functions of the curves.

The approximate curve is the so-called logistic curve:


where “k” is the saturation value [51]. In our case, k = 100, because the elements of samples are in percentage. So, we must not estimate the value of k from the samples. In this way, the values of b0 and b1 can be determined by linear regression of transformed data. The estimated values of these constants are: b0 = 3.19, b1 = −0.151.

The value of the correlation index can be determined from the relationship:


where sr2 is the residual variance, sy2 is the variance of the independent variable? In our case: ixy = 0.956.

We depicted their number as the species in the function of the wingspan, that BL and the visible light traps collected it in an equal proportion. We made use of the middle values of the extreme values in all cases. We examined in Ref. to the families Sphingidae, Geometridae, Notodontidae, Erebidae, and Noctuidae whether the number of species collected effectively by the visible or BL traps differed? We also looked for species that cannot be detected in the two results (visible versus BL) in significant differences despite the number of traps being sufficient to determine significant differences.


4. Results and discussion

We summarise in Table 1 that the wingspan data of all the 378 species, the more efficient light source for each species in a no-choice situation at multiple sites and for the single site of Nagytétény the more efficient light source for species detected there.

No.Scientific names of speciesABCD
Drepanidae (Average of wingspan is 31.6 mm)
1Watsonalla binaria Hfn.2410E
2Drepana falcataria L.316E
3Sabra harpagula Esp.305E
4Cilix glaucata Scop.2020EE
5Asphalia ruficollis Den. et Schiff.364E
6Habrosyne pyrithoides Hfn.375E
7Tethea ocularis Hbn.354BL
8Tethea or Den. et Schiff.407E
Lasiocampidae (Average of wingspan is 42.2 mm)
9Poecilocampa populi L.376E
10Trichiura crataegi L.275E
11Malacosoma neustria L.3012E
12Lasiocampa trifolii Den. et Schiff.476EBL
13Odonestis pruni L.4017BL
14Macrothylacia rubi L.5211E
15Phyllodesma ilicifolia L.3511BL
16Gastropacha quercifolia L.7017BLE
Saturniidae (Average of wingspan is 82.5 mm
17Saturnia pyri Den. et Schiff.1157BL
18Saturnia pavonia L.505BL
Sphingidae (Average of wingspan is 82.5 mm
19Mimas tiliae L.6712BLBL
20Smerinthus ocellata L.7521BLBL
21Laothoe populi L.7717BLV
22Marumba quercus Den. et Schif.1005E
23Agrius convolvuli L.10014BL
24Sphinx ligustri L.10519BLE
25Sphinx pinastri L.7711BL
26Macroglossum stellatarum L.455E
27Deilephila elpenor L.5314BL
28Deilephila porcellus L.4314BLBL
29Hyles euphorbiae L.6521BLBL
Geometridae (Average of wingspan is 26.1 mm)
30Rhodostrophia vibicaria Clerck2716EBL
31Idaea rufaria Hbn.136EV
32Idaea serpentata Hfn.225E
33Idaea aureolaria Den. et Schiff.114BL
34Idaea muricata Hfn.198E
35Idaea rusticata Den & Schiff.2017EBL
36Idaea obsoletaria Rambur224V
37Idaea fuscovenosa Goeze.2012EBL
38Idaea humiliata Hfn.2012VV
39Idaea politaria Hbn.165V
40Idaea seriata Schrk.205EBL
41Idaea dimidiata Hfn.1617VV
42Idaea nitidata H.-Sch.204EBL
43Idaea aversata L.2616EBL
44Idaea degeneraria Hbn.287EBL
45Idaea straminata Brkh.3010EBL
46Scopula immorata L.2317EBL
47Scopula nigropunctata Hfn.314E
48Scopula virgulata Den. et Schiff.2020VE
49Scopula ornata Scop.2211VV
50Scopula rubiginata Hfn.1819EE
51Scopula marginepunctata Goeze2618EE
52Scopula immutata L.2517VE
53Scopula rubiginata Hfn.1819EE
54Scopula marginepunctata Goeze2618EE
55Scopula flaccidaria Zeller2114E
56Scopula corrivalaria Kretschm.205E
57Scopula incanata L.267E
58Timandra comae Schmidt2522VE
59Cyclophora annularia Fabr.2015EBL
60Cyclophora ruficiliaria H.-Sch.274E
61Cyclophora punctaria L.2214E
62Cyclophora linearia Hbn.298BL
63Philbalapteryx virgata Hfn.237EBL
64Lythria purpuraria L.2415EBL
65Orthonama vittata Bkh.247E
66Nycterosea obstipata Fabr.1916EBL
67Xanthorrhoe fluctuata L.2120EBL
68Xanthorrhoe spadicearia Den. et Schiff.254E
69Xanthorrhoe ferrugata Clerck2016VV
70Catarhoe cuculata Hfn.244E
71Catarhoe rubidata Den. et Schiff.286VV
72Costaconvexa polygrammata Bkh.267E
73Epirrhoe alternata Müller2215EBL
74Epirrhoe galiata Den. et Schiff.305E
75Pelurga comitata L.2713EV
76Gandaritis pyraliata Den. et Schiff.304E
77Operophthera brumata L.2511V
78Philereme vetulata Den. et Schiff.279EBL
79Perizoma alchemillata L.1610BLV
80Gymnoscelis rufifasciata Haw.175EBL
81Pasiphila rectangulata L.175E
82Eupithecia linariata Den. et Schiff.1314EV
83Eupithecia simpliciata Haw.2212EBL
84Eupithecia innotata Hfn.214EBL
85Eupithecia centaureata Den. et Schiff.1822EBL
86Eupithecia vulgata Haw.167E
87Eupithecia millefoliata Rossler218V
88Aplocera plagiata L.4012EBL
89Lithostege griseata Den. et Schiff.2911EBL
90Lithostege farinata Hfn.3119EE
91Abraxas grossulariata L.375E
92Lomaspilis marginata L.3411E
93Ligdia adustata Den. et Schiff.2215EBL
94Stegania dilectaria Hbn.219E
95Macaria alternata Den. et Schiff.2417EE
96Macaria artesiaria Den. et Schiff.266E
97Narraga tessularia Metzner156E
98Chiasmia clathrata L.2322EBL
99Epione repandaria Hfn.277E
100Angerona prunaria L.409E
101Ennomos autumnaria Werneburg4516EBL
102Ennomos fuscantaria Haw.3711BL
103Ennomos erosaria Den. et Schiff.3212BL
104Selenia lunaria Den. et Schiff.3916EV
105Artiora evonymaria Den. et Schiff.294VV
106Crocallis elinguaria L.365EBL
107Colotois pennaria L.408E
108Alsophila aescularia Den. et Schiff.304E
109Ascotis selenaria Den. et Schiff.4321EBL
110Lycia hirtaria Clerck409EBL
111Biston betularia L.4711BLBL
112Agriopsis bajaria Den. et Schiff.297E
113Therapis flavicaria Den. et Schiff.295V
114Erannis defoliaria Clerck.357EBL
115Peribatodes rhomboidaria Den. et Schiff.3413EBL
116Cleora cinctaria Den. et Schiff.316E
117Agriopis aurantiaria Hbn.3120EBL
118Ectropis crepuscularia L.3520VBL
119Elicrinia trinotata Metzner136E
120Heliomata glarearia Den. et Schiff.1814EBL
121Synopsia sociaria Hbn.365E
122Aethalura punctulata Den. et Schiff.325E
123Ematurga atomaria L.2617EBL
124Bupalus piniaria L.324BL
125Cabera pusaria L.2610E
126Cabera exanthemata Scop.3215EBL
127C. exanthemata Scop.3215EBL
128Lomographa temerata Den. et Schiff.244E
129Tephrina arenacearia Den. et Schiff.2522EBL
130Tephrina murinaria Den. et Schiff.2811EBL
131Thetidia smaragdaria Prout3515E
132Phaiogramma etruscaria Zeller199VV
133Hemistola chrysoprasaria Esp.3010E
134Thalera fimbrialis Scop.2716E
135Chlorissa cloraria Hbn.156E
136Chlorissa viridata L.2520VV
Notodontidae (Average of wingspan is 39.7 mm)
137Thaumetopoea processionea L.308EBL
138Cerura vinula L.577BL
139Furcula furcula Clerk3112BLBL
140Furcula bifida Brahm4016BLBL
141Drymonia dodonea Den. et Schiff.356E
142Drymonia querna Fabr.417E
143Drymonia ruficornis Hfn.374E
144Notodonta dromedarius L.375E
145Notodonta ziczac L.4717BLBL
146Notodonta tritophus Den. et Schiff.506BL
147Pheosia tremula Clerk5014BLBL
148Pterostoma palpina Clerck4520VN
149Ptilodon capucina L.375E
150Ptilophora plumigera Den. et Schiff.386EBL
151Spatalia argentina Den. et Schiff.3711BL
152Phalera bucephala L.4817BLBL
153Gluphisia crenata Bray3513E
154Clostera curtula L.3114VBL
155Clostera pigra Hfn.249EN
156Clostera anastomosis L.3514EBL
Erebidae (Average of wingspan is 37,7 mm)
157Scoliopteryx libatrix L.4211EV
158Rivula sericealis Scop.2021EE
159Hypena proboscidalis L.314E
160Hypena rostralis L.3012EE
161Leucoma salicis L.437E
162Lymantria dispar L.4318BLBL
163Ocneria rubea Den. et Schiff.396EE
164Euproctis chrysorrhoea L.3915E
165Euproctis similis Fuessly315E
166Calliteara pudibunda L.507E
167Orgya antiqua L.277BLBL
168Hyphantria cunea Drury3821EBL
169Spilosoma lutea Hfn.3418EBL
170Spilosoma lubricipeda L.4120EE
171Spilosoma urticae Esp.4218EE
172Diaphora mendica Clerck338EBL
173Diacrisia sannio L.4214E
174Phragmatobia fuliginosa L.3222BLBL
175Phragmatobia lucufer Den. et Schiff..377EBL
176Arctia caja L.5521BLBL
177Arctia villica L.5214BLV
178Ocnogyna parasita Hbn.325E
179Chelis maculosa Gerning3311EBL
180Miltochrista miniata Forster254E
181Pelosia muscerda Hfn.267E
182Thumatha senex Hbn.1712E
183Pelosia obtusa H-Sch.258EBL
184Lithosia quadra L.4512EBL
185Eilema lurideola Zincken314E
186Eilema complana L.3115BLBL
187Eilema palliatella Scop.347BLBL
188Dysauxes ancilla L.2312E
189Eilema pygmaeola Doubleday2614EBL
190Eilema sororcula Hfn.285BL
191Paracolax tristalis Fabr.3111E
192Herminia tarsicrinalis Knoch.308EV
193Polypogon tentacularia L.254E
194Zanclognatha lunalis Scop.347V
195Simplicia rectalis Ev.296EBL
196Schrankia costaestrigalis Steph.195V
197Lygephila craccae Den. et Schiff.437BLBL
198Phytometra viridaria Cl.199EBL
199Colobochyla salicalis Den. et Schiff.287E
200Catocala elocata Esp.7510BLBL
201Euclidia glyphica L.2714EE
Noctuidae (Average of wingspan is 34,73 mm)
202Eublemma purpurina Den. et Schiff.2518BLBL
203Abrostola triplasia L.3010E
204Abrostola trigemina Werneburg3710EBL
205Autographa gamma L.4021BLBL
206Macdunnoughia confusa Steph.3521EBL
207Diachrysia chrysitis L.3121BLE
208Plusia festucae L.3812BL
209Deltote pygarga Hfn.219E
210Deltote deceptoria Scop.244E
211Deltote uncula Clerck2113E
212Deltote bankiana Fabr.2611E
213Acontia lucida Hfn.2822BLBL
214Acontia trabealis Scop.1922EBL
215Odice arcuinna Hbn.274EBL
216Aedia funesta Esp.3220BLE
217Tyta luctuosa Den. et Schiff.2322EBL
218Colocasia coryli L.3410E
219Diloba caeruleocephala L.3515E
220Symira albovenosa Goeze.3810EV
221Symira nervosa Den. et Schiff.327E
222Acronicta tridens Den. et Schiff.4016BLBL
223Acronicta psi L.407EBL
224Acronicta aceris L.454BLBL
225Acronicta rumicis L.3421BLBL
226Acronicta megacephala Den. et Schiff.4220BLBL
227Oxycesta geographica Fabr.254VV
228Craniophora ligustri Den. et Schiff.3810BL
229Cucullia umbratica L.4722BLBL
230Cucullia chamomillae Den. et Schiff.414EBL
231Cucullia lactucae Den. et Schiff.485BL
232Cucullia fraudatrix Ev.386E
233Lamprosticta culta Den. et Schiff.424BLBL
234Ammoconia caecimacula Den. et Schiff.4210BLBL
235Calophasia lunula Hfn.2918EBL
236Amphipyra pyramidea L.465BLBL
237Amphipyra livida Den. et Schiff.428EBL
238Amphipyra tragopoginis Clerck3517BLBL
239Asteroscopus sphinx Hfn.4411E
240Allophyes oxyacanthae L.427EBL
241Pyrrhia umbra Hfn.3115EBL
242Protoschinia scutosa Den. et Schiff.335E
243Heliothis viriplaca Hfn.3321BLBL
244Heliothis maritima Graslin3322BLBL
245Periphanes delphinii L.3619BLBL
246Acosmetia caliginosa Hbn.2710VE
247Eucarta virgo Tr.3513E
248Cryphia algae Fabr.274BL
249Cryphia raptricula Den. et Schiff.3210BL
250Pseudeustrotia candidula Den. et Schiff.2221EBL
251Spodoptera exigua Hbn.2912BLBL
252Elaphria venustula Hbn.217E
253Episema glaucina Esp.369EE
254Episema tersa Den. et Schiff.3611BLBL
255Caradrina morpheus Hfn.3517EBL
256Platyperigea kadenii Freyer308BLBL
257Paradrina clavipalpis Scop.3021BLBL
258Hoplodrina respersa Hbn.308BLV
259Hoplodrina alsines Brahm.3117BLBL
260Hoplodrina respersa Den. et Schiff.314E
261Hoplodrina blanda Den. et Schiff.3314BLBL
262Hoplodrina ambigua Den. et Schiff.3319BLBL
263Chilodes maritimus Tauscher337EBL
264Charanyca trigrammica Hfn.3716EBL
265Athetis gluteosa Tr.2519EBL
266Athetis furvula Hbn.2011E
267Dypterygia scabriuscula L.3413EBL
268Trachea atriplicis L.4012E
269Actinotia polyodon Clerck335E
270Phlogophora meticulosa L.4712BLBL
271Euplexia lucipara L.297E
272Gortyna flavago Den. et Schiff.379E
273Hydraecia micacea Esp.365EBL
274Luperina testacea Den. et Schiff.3222EBL
275Rhizedra lutosa Hbn.4618BLBL
276Nonagria typhae Thnbg.476EBL
277Archanara geminipuncta Haw.295EBL
278Archanara dissoluta Tr.304E
279Denticucullus pygmina Haw.2610EBL
280Photedes fluxa Hbn.289EBL
281Globia sparganii Esp.368E
282Globia algae Esp.387E
283Apamea anceps Den. et Schiff.3715BL
284Apamea sordens Hfn.3816EE
285Apamea monoglypha Hfn.5013BLBL
286Apamea sublustris Esp.425EV
287Mesapamea secalis L.287BL
288Mesoligia furuncula Den. et Schiff.259EBL
289Oligia latruncula Den. et Schiff.2519EE
290Oligia strigilis L.2317BLE
291Xanthia gilvago Den. et Schiff.364BL
292Xanthia ocellaris Bkh.378EBL
293Aegle kaekeritziana Hbn.269EV
294Mesogona acetosellae Den. et Schiff.425BLBL
295Agrochola lychnidis Den. et Schiff.3919BLBL
296Agrochola litura L.3215BLBL
297Agrochola helvola L.414E
298Agrochola lota Clerck369EBL
299Agrochola circellaris Hfn.375E
300Agrochola humilis Den. et Schiff.386BL
301Ammoconia caecimacula Den. et Schiff.4210BLBL
302Conistra vaccinii L.3216EBL
303Conistra rubiginosa Scop.356E
304Conistra erythrocephala Den. et Schiff.387E
305Eupsilia transversa Hfn.3713E
306Cosmia affinis L.317BL
307Cosmia trapezina L.2913EBL
308Cosmia pyralina Den. et Schiff.314E
309Atethmia centrago Haw.344EBL
310Drybotodes tenebrosa Esp.359E
311Aporophyla lutulenta Den. et Schiff.407E
312Orthosia incerta Hfn.3711BLBL
313Orthosia miniosa Den. et Schiff.338BL
314Orthosia cerasi Fabr.379BL
315Orthosia cruda Den. et Schiff.2710BL
316Orthosia populeti Fabr.374E
317Orthosia gracilis Den. et Schiff.3710EBL
318Orthosia opima Hbn.375E
319Orthosia gothica L.3211E
320Anorthoa munda Den. et Schiff.419BL
321Egira conspicillaris L.3913BLBL
322Tholera cespitis Den. et Schiff.3715EBL
323Tholera decimalis Poda3821EBL
324Anarta trifolii Hfn.325BLBL
325Polia nebulosa Hfn.504E
326Proxellus lepigone Mschl.2820EBL
327Pachetra sagittigera Hfn.447EBL
328Lacanobia w-latinum Hfn.3917BLBL
329Lacanobia thalassina Hfn.3611BLBL
330Lacanobia suasa Den. et Schiff.3422EBL
331Lacanobia oleracea L.3422BLBL
332Sideritis albicolon Hbn.4214BLE
333Sideritis reticulata Goeze349EE
334Melanchra persicariae L.384BL
335Melanchra pisi L.3410EBL
336Hada plebeja L.3312E
337Mamestra brassicae L.4121BLBL
338Hecatera dysodea Den. et Schiff.339BLBL
339Harmodia bicruris Hfn.3518BLBL
340Conisania luteago Den. et Schiff.3820EE
341Hadena rivularis Fabr.2811BLBL
342Hadula dianthi Wagner358EBL
343Harmodia perplexa Den. et Schiff.3113E
344Hyssia cavernosa Ev.3110E
345Mythimna turca L.418BL
346Mythimna pudorina Den. et Schiff.364E
347Mythimna pallens L.3222BLBL
348Mythimna vitellina Hbn.3910BLBL
349Mythimna ferrago Fabr.377BLBL
350Mythimna l-album L.3221BLBL
351Leucania obsoleta Hbn.3812BLBL
352Peridroma saucia Hbn.5011BLBL
353Euxoa obelisca Tutt3711BLBL
354Euxoa temera Hbn.3210BLBL
355Euxoa aquilina Den. et Schiff.3510E
356Agrotis cinerea Den. et Schiff.367EE
357Agrotis exclamationis L.3522BLBL
358Agrotis segetum Den. et Schiff.3322BLBL
359Agrotis vestigialis Hfn.324E
360Agrotis ipsilon Hfn.4222BLBL
361Agrotis crassa Hbn.4418BLBL
362Axylia putris L.2921BLBL
363Ochropleura plecta L.2721BLBL
364Parexarnis fugax Tr.355E
365Diarsia rubi Vieweg306EBL
366Cerastis rubricosa Den. et Schiff.359E
367Noctua pronuba L.5022BLBL
368Noctua fimbriata Schreber4714BLBL
369Noctua comes Hbn.414E
370Noctua janthina Den. et Schiff.356BLBL
371Spaelothis ravida Den. et Schiff.458EBL
372Xestia xanthographa Den. et Schiff.3311BLBL
373Xestia c-nigrum L.3822BLBL
374Xestia triangulum Hfn.4115BL
375Eugnorisma depuncta L.4010BL
Nolidae (Average of wingspan is 23.2 mm)
376Meganola albula Den. et Schiff.215E
377Nola aerugula Hbn.177E
378Pseudoips prasinana L.3615BLBL
379Nycteola asiatica Kruilkovsky2315BLBL
380Earias clorana L.2114EBL
381Earias vernana Fabr.2111EBL

Table 1.

Macrolepidoptera species collected successfully by Visible or BL light-traps.

Notes Macrolepidoptera species collected successfully by V Visible or BL black light traps, E equal N serial number, A Wingspan (mm), B Network: Number of trap pairs, C Network: More efficient light source, D Nagytétény: More efficient light source.

We established from the material of the national light-trap network that the BL traps are unquestionably more efficient in collecting several species of the Sphingidae, Notodontidae, and Noctuidae. Several species of the Geometridae and Erebidae families fly to BL and visible traps in equal numbers. However, at Nagytétény, the species of the latter two families clearly flew much more frequently into the BL trap. None of the five families include species that could be captured only by one or the other type of trap.

Figure 1 shows that at no-choice sites, such as the national network traps, 30 mm wingspan is approximately the limit below which some species can be trapped more effectively by using the visible trap rather than the BL type. Above 35 mm wingspan, the catch of the BL approaches 100%. At Nagytétény, however, where the visible and the BL traps were placed so close together that the moths could see both at the same time, even the moths having the smallest wingspan were caught more than 60% by BL trap (Figure 2). These results agree broadly with the previous literature although they do not address mercury light sources, which emit light in both BL and V ranges.

Figure 1.

Percentage of BL traps catch of macrolepidoptera species compared to the visible light ones in connection with the wingspan of moths (solid line = BL, dashed line = visible light).

Figure 2.

Percentage of BL traps catch of macrolepidoptera species compared to the visible light ones in connection with the wingspan of moths (Nagytétény).

Figure 3 shows that the number of the species collected in nearly equal proportions by visible and BL traps significantly declines with increasing wingspan.

Figure 3.

Percentage of macrolepidoptera species caught by BL traps and visible light ones in connection with the wingspan of moths, if they select in equal proportion the two type light-traps.

It is most remarkable, however, that the number of species for which the results of the national light-trap network could not detect a significant difference between BL and N traps was much smaller at Nagytétény where the BL trap was most frequently chosen by insects (Figures 48). So provided the moths are free to choose between traps placed extremely close to each other, they will fly to the BL trap. If the visible and BL traps are very close to each other, even the small moths choose the BL traps en masse. However, such cases would be expected to be a random choice of the moths.

Figure 4.

Percentage of light-trap catch of Geometridae species by BL and visible light sources from data of the Hungarian light-trap network and Nagytétény.

Figure 5.

Percentage of light-trap catch of Geometridae species by BL and visible light sources from data of the Hungarian light-trap network and Nagytétény.

Figure 6.

Percentage of light-trap catch of Notodontidae species by BL and visible light sources from data of Hungarian light-trap network and Nagytétény.

Figure 7.

Percentage of light-trap catch of Erebidae species by BL and visible light sources from the data of the Hungarian light-trap network and Nagytétény.

Figure 8.

Percentage of light-trap catch of Noctuidae species by BL and visible light sources from the data of the Hungarian light-trap network and Nagytétény.

The fact that the highest number of moths with a wingspan greater than 35 mm, is in the BL traps, does not mean that these species cannot be collected with a visible bulb. However, it is clear that the visible or visible light source has low efficiency in collecting moths with wingspans greater than 35 mm. This result is noteworthy and can be used in plant protection and for another entomological research.

The light source of the trap should be chosen to suit our target species while bearing in mind their wingspan size.

The BL trap seems most efficient for operation for plant protecting purposes, despite the fact that their use is far more problematic.

Insect species are not only endangered by light trapping but also by the light pollution of urban areas. Our results confirm that the different light sources should incur mortality on different species to differing levels. Such differential mortality from artificial light sources could disturb the balance of life in biological communities. Kollings [52] established that there was a definite difference in the composition of the catch from two neighbouring street lamps. According to Frank [53], if some moth species are more attracted to light than others, the traits related to this attraction could help us to predict the effects of artificial light on communities of nocturnal species.

Light pollution might, in the future, expand to cover new areas. Some species may have populations more influenced by light pollution than others and some individuals might be more prone to it than others. This may generate a selective pressure to change behaviour. On the other hand, densely lit urban environments may be advantageous for other species that fly by day or are not attracted to light. And there are also possibilities to solve the problem of light pollution. The use of low-pressure sodium lamps, for instance, may reduce the disturbing effects of illumination. These provoke a reaction of flying to light to a lesser extent than other lamps do. At the same time, they are also less likely to disturb the circadian rhythm of moths and other insects. These lamps also emit less energy than other lamps providing the same illumination. In an experiment by Eisenbeis and Hassel [54], the use of sodium vapour street lamps reduced the number of insects caught by 50%, including a 75% reduction in the number of moths.


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Written By

László Nowinszky, Lionel Hill, János Puskás, Károly Tar and Levente Hufnagel

Submitted: 22 September 2021 Reviewed: 17 January 2022 Published: 26 February 2022