Insect light traps (ILTs) are the primary deterrent used to keep flies and other flying insects from spreading harmful bacteria in restaurants, supermarkets, and other commercial establishments. They are a great alternative to pesticides and a significant contribution to public health. But the bulbs in these units can be costly over time. But, researchers at University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are studying the effectiveness of insect light bulbs over time to determine if these bulbs are still viable beyond manufacturers’ recommendations to replace bulbs once a year.

The Problem

Though a single bulb is only $10, a large commercial facility might require as many as 1,500 bulbs. That is $15,000 for only one part of the facilities pest management program. What’s worse is, the facility has to pay that cost every year because the only data that has been available to the pest management industry has come from the bulb manufacturers, who maintain that these bulbs don’t emit as much light beyond a year of use. However, some entomologists believe bulb replacement should be based on the fly, rather than the manufacturer’s claim.

The Study

Phil Koehler, Entomology Professor at the University of Florida and his partner in the study, John Cooksey, a doctoral student and part-owner of McCall Service, a Copesan local service provider based in Jacksonville, FL, are studying the effectiveness of ILTs over time. They were curious if commercial grade traps users could use bulbs for long time periods while maintaining effective pest control. They discovered that a 13-month-old bulb still caught about 80 to 90 percent as many flies as the new bulbs.

While this may be great news for businesses looking to save money by stretching out bulbs’ lives, research is ongoing. The research must include a wider range of available ILT bulbs from a variety of manufacturers. It’s just one way the pest management industry is helping businesses protect their brands in the most economical way possible. Hopefully, as more data emerges, the verdict on these bulbs will be even better. The future is certainly looking bright.