Nighttime light pollution sabotages sex pheromones of moths | Science News

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Nighttime light pollution sabotages sex pheromones of moths

LEDs push females to release weak, odd-smelling come-ons

By
7:00am, May 13, 2015
cabbage moths

MOTH MATES  Too much artificial light at night can undermine the chemical attraction between cabbage moths like these.

Harsh lighting doesn’t ruin the chemistry of romantic trysts just for humans. Artificial lighting can miscue female moths into sending out skimpy, and possibly stinky, scents instead of their usual potent come-hithers.

In lab tests exposing cabbage moths to the equivalent of LED street lighting, females produced on average only about one- to two-thirds the amounts of their usual seductive pheromone, says ecologist Roy van Grunsven of Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

Light-exposed Mamestra brassicae females also got their recipe wrong. They skimped on the main attractant among the nine components blended into their species-specific brew. And three components known to repel males if overused were disproportionately strong, van Grunsven and his colleagues report in an upcoming issue of Ecological Entomology.

It’s the first study to specifically test

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