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Guide to Best Bug Repellent LED Lights

Growing up as kids we used to hate camping at night because of the number of bugs that the gas lamp attracted. When I started taking my kids camping, they felt the same with the 12V fluoro camping lights that we had. Wrapping the fluoro lights in orange cellophane helped a little, but bugs would still flop about on the kids' dinner plates.

Then “bug resistant" LED camping lights hit the camping market with plenty of hype and high costs but unfortunately the advertising was unfounded as the bugs decided that they loved LED lights too, being such a bright white light. So, are there lights that don’t attract bugs?

White LED Lights

White LED lights are great for lighting up a campsite, but they also attract bugs like you wouldn’t believe. I have tested this while camping in Gregory National Park in the NT. The moths were causing real issues when dinner was being prepared, the white LED over the stove was a real attraction to them. I grabbed a portable LED light and placed it on the bullbar, directing the light up into the night sky. Within a minute, the moths moved to the brighter LED light, allowing me to finish cooking and enjoy the meal bug-free.

Amber LED Lights

Bug lights are said to take advantage of the difference between human and insect eyes in that insects have problems sensing light with a lower colour temperature. Amber lights shift the colour temperature of the LED to a lower spectrum point where it is nearly invisible to many flying insects.

While acknowledging that this may be the case in some areas or seasons, over 40 years of camping have shown me that red LED lights take this a step further.

Amber LED Lights

Red LED Lights

Utilised for years by the marine market, red LED lights help prevent night blindness caused by bright light. This is because the human eye has two types of receptors, rods and cones, which have an increased sensitivity to frequent bands at different ends of the visual spectrum. Rods are fundamentally responsible for our daylight colour vision, they have an increased sensitivity to the red band of the visual spectrum. Cones look after our night vision capability and have an increased sensitivity to the blue band of the visual spectrum.

It is, for this reason, red light doesn’t affect the sensitivity of the cones, so our night vision isn’t affected. Red LEDs are great if you’re trying to take a night-time photo of camp or some Astro shots of the night sky. When it comes to repelling bugs, red LEDs are the best.

Red LED Lights

Top-of-the-range head torches have a red LED light feature perfect for eating your dinner but helpful when you look up at someone as you won't blind them like you would if using the white light options. Walk around your campsite using a red LED light and you will be amazed at all the visible animals, reptiles and arachnids as the colour doesn’t scare them away.

How much do I like RED LEDs? My camper trailer has switchable white/red LED lights, as does my 4WD. Even the rooftop tent has white/red switchable reading lights. If you haven’t had the opportunity to camp with red LED lights, maybe give them a try and let us know what you think in the comments below.

Where Can I Buy Red LED Lights?

Narva has a range of interior white/red LED lights, while not cheap they are very effective. Hella and marine stores will have 12V red LED options too that are suitable for camping also. Headtorches that have a red LED option are available from any good camping store such as Snowys, BCF or Anaconda.

Next steps

At Hema Maps, we strive to provide the most comprehensive and accurate maps and guides for outdoor enthusiasts looking to explore Australia's natural wonders.

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  • Wayne Stacpoole : July 05, 2023

    Very helpful thankyou I’ve used red light for Fox shooting before doesn’t scare them away

  • Paul Welsh: July 03, 2023

    I have been camping for many of years using the old kerosene lanterns to led lights and did not know about the use of Red Led lights, I was under the impression that the red light on my head light was used as a warning light if you were lost. Thank you

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