Cabin At The Lake Tip # 3342

When installing a “porch light” (to light the entrance way ans any stairs, and the immediate area outside the cabin) do not place the light near the door as is often the custom. The light is meant to be used at night. Out in cabin country, when you turn that light on at night, 22 gazillion insects will flock to it and form a giant swarm covering a blob shaped area several feet in diameter. If the light is placed next to the entrance door, this makes that door unusable unless you wish to admit about half of the insects (about 10 gazillion of them) into the cabin.

Instead, place the outdoor light 15 feet or more away from the door. There will still be light to see and most (but certainly not all) of the insects will be off to the side.

Comments

  1. #1 bobh
    June 25, 2012

    When I was a kid growing up in Northern Michigan in the late spring you couldn’t even walk under a street light without crunching out the lives of 100s of “fish flies”

  2. #2 PaulG
    June 25, 2012

    I’ve heard that colored light is less attractive than white light, but I’ve never tried the experiment.

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    June 25, 2012

    Paul, yeah, if you use a yellow light you’ll get three tons of lake flies instead of four tons.

  4. #4 bks
    June 25, 2012

    Maybe you could have two lights at opposite ends of the cabin that turn on and off asynchronously and the bugs would die of exhaustion rushing from one to the other.

    –bks

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    June 25, 2012

    Good idea.

    Also, a half dozen or so pet bats would be good.

  6. #6 daedalus2u
    http://daedalus2u.blogspot.com/
    June 25, 2012

    You should put up bat houses.

    Bats really like to forage over calm water. The highly reflective surface makes it much easier to find bugs. You might consider putting a light over the water.

    Swallows eat a lot of bugs too, and they will nest on docks.

  7. #7 Serena
    June 25, 2012

    Sometimes swallows nest in your boat lift cover, thus crapping all over your boat! But it certainly does help with the insects…

  8. #8 daedalus2u
    http://daedalus2u.blogspot.com/
    June 26, 2012

    My understanding is that insects are not “attracted” to lights, but that they use a light spot as a navigation aid and fly so as to keep that light source at a certain angle relative to their line of flight. That only works for lights that are distant enough that the angle doesn’t change, like the moon. When the light is close, they spiral in.

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    June 26, 2012

    Pretty much. The exact process varies across insects. Some insects simply “fly towards the light” as a means of ending up in more or less the same place. In theory, the emerge at night and fly towards the moon, and on the way, meet up with each other and mate. Moths, or some moths, probably navigate using the moon and a bright light doesn’t exactly attract them (because in normal life they don’t automatically fly at the moon, they just use it as a guide). What probably happens with some moths is that their internal GPS machines overload and whenever they are near a light they accidentally fly in tighter and tighter circles, so it is like an informational black hole effect that causes them to spin around near the light until they run into it and fry or become exhausted and land somewhere.

    We have swallows in the architectural elements but not as many as there could be. Only one nest that I’m aware of though there must be more. We should put up swallow nesting thingies.

    I would love to put up bat houses. If I do, no one will ever know I’ve done it. Many of the in-laws subscribe to a 19th century view of nature and bats are really just giant icky flying spiders that will fly into your hair and kill you. There are certain places that I’m sure bats live now but I won’t ever tell anyone or those things will be destroyed.

  10. #10 Mike
    June 26, 2012

    Is that an African or a European swallow?

  11. #11 Greg Laden
    June 26, 2012

    European; Hirundo rustica

  12. #12 MadScientist
    June 27, 2012

    How many bugs can a swallow swallow? One good bug catcher (for indoor use) in those situations is a tin plate smeared with something sticky like lard – wave it around and bugs stick.

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