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Van Geffen, K. G., Groot, A. T., Van Grunsven, R. H. A., Donners, M., Berendse, F., & Veenendaal, E. M. (2015). Artificial night lighting disrupts sex pheromone in a noctuid moth: Moth sex pheromone in illuminated nights. Ecol Entomol, 40(4), 401–408.
Abstract: 1. One major, yet poorly studied, change in the environment is the increase in nocturnal light pollution. Although this strongly alters the habitat of nocturnal species, the ecological consequences are poorly known. Moths are well known to be attracted to artificial light sources, but artificial light may affect them in other ways as well.
2. In this study, female Mamestra brassicae moths were subjected to various types of low-intensity artificial night lighting with contrasting spectral compositions (green-rich, red-rich, warm white) or to a dark control treatment and the effects on their sex pheromone production and composition were tested.
3. Artificial night lighting reduced sex pheromone production and altered the chemical composition of the pheromone blend, irrespective of spectral composition. Specifically, amounts of the main pheromone component Z11-16:Ac were reduced, while the deterring compounds Z9-14:Ac, Z9-16:Ac, and Z11-16:OH were increased relative to Z11-16:Ac when females were kept under artificial light. These changes may reduce the effectiveness of the sex pheromones, becoming less attractive for males.
4. These results show for the first time that artificial light at night affects processes that are involved in moth reproduction. The potential for mitigation through manipulation of the spectral composition of artificial light appears limited.
van Geffen, K. G., van Grunsven, R. H. A., van Ruijven, J., Berendse, F., & Veenendaal, E. M. (2014). Artificial light at night causes diapause inhibition and sex-specific life history changes in a moth. Ecol Evol, 4(11), 2082â2089.
Abstract: Rapidly increasing levels of light pollution subject nocturnal organisms to major alterations of their habitat, the ecological consequences of which are largely unknown. Moths are well-known to be attracted to light at night, but effects of light on other aspects of moth ecology, such as larval development and life-history, remain unknown. Such effects may have important consequences for fitness and thus for moth population sizes. To study the effects of artificial night lighting on development and life-history of moths, we experimentally subjected Mamestra brassicae (Noctuidae) caterpillars to low intensity green, white, red or no artificial light at night and determined their growth rate, maximum caterpillar mass, age at pupation, pupal mass and pupation duration. We found sex-specific effects of artificial light on caterpillar life-history, with male caterpillars subjected to green and white light reaching a lower maximum mass, pupating earlier and obtaining a lower pupal mass than male caterpillars under red light or in darkness. These effects can have major implications for fitness, but were absent in female caterpillars. Moreover, by the time that the first adult moth from the dark control treatment emerged from its pupa (after 110 days), about 85% of the moths that were under green light and 83% of the moths that were under white light had already emerged. These differences in pupation duration occurred in both sexes and were highly significant, and likely result from diapause inhibition by artificial night lighting. We conclude that low levels of nocturnal illumination can disrupt life-histories in moths and inhibit the initiation of pupal diapause. This may result in reduced fitness and increased mortality. The application of red light, instead of white or green light, might be an appropriate measure to mitigate negative artificial light effects on moth life history.