Bug Flights at Night

September 10, 2012

BugsatNightIMG_8515-1 (2)

: Attila Kovacs 
Summary Authors: Attila Kovacs; Jim Foster

The photo above shows insects flitting about a lamp of the Abbey in Tihany, Hungary. This 10-second exposure captures dozens of insects (many are moths) drawn to the light on this midsummer's night. Numerous night-flying insects evidently use bright lights for orientation purposes. Attempting to keep a constant angle to a light source, they move closer to the light each time they change position. Away from cities, the Moon serves a similar function and allows the bugs to buzz off once they're comfortable with their orientation.

It should be noted that insects can be killed when they fly into the hot lamp, may die from exhaustion from spending an entire night flying around it, or may be gobbled up by predators that advantage of their predicament. Gerhard Eisenbeis estimated that for the city of Kiel in Germany (240,000 inhabitants in 1998 and approximately 20,000 street lamps) on the order of 360 million insects are killed by street lamps each year. Photo taken on August 4, 2012.

Photo Details: Camera: Canon EOS 1000D; Lens: EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6; Focal Length: 25.0mm; Aperture: f/10.0; Exposure Time: 10.000 s; ISO equiv: 400; Software: Digital Photo Professionalƒ.