Why are Moths Attracted to Light

There is no consensus about why moths appear to be drawn to light sources, even those that immolate them like fire. Most entomologists still debate about what the reason possibly could be.

One possible reason could be the phenomenon of phototaxis, which is the reaction of organisms, mainly insects, to light. For instance, cockroaches will avoid light, scurrying away when exposed, while moths will fly to any light source – lamps, moonlight, and even fire. Another reason might be that before artificial lights, moths might have used the moon as a point of reference while navigating. The brighter lights may cause disorientation by overpowering the natural light, which helps the moths find direction.

A lack of clarity exists over the type of light attracting moths. When UV lamps were introduced in World War II for medical purposes, they appeared to attract more moths. This would suggest that moths are not attracted to the light source’s brightness but to specific wavelengths. Finally, there is a hypothesis that lights trick moths into seeing illusions called “Mach Bands”, caused by the darker areas around illuminated areas.