When creating a Wild Space, most people will plan and create their area to use and enjoy in the daylight. But it’s likely that your Wild Space is still buzzing well after you’ve gone to bed!
The most wildlife-rich Wild Spaces are those set up for both day and nighttime visitors to enjoy, and one of the key elements is lighting. So how can you best light your Wild Space for wildlife? Here are our top tips!
Do I need light?
Each year, the night sky is getting brighter and light pollution is a real threat to our wildlife, particularly nocturnal insects like many of the UK’s moth species. Many species of moths are drawn to artificial light, but it can disrupt their behaviour and make them vulnerable to predators. So, the first question to ask when thinking about lighting in your Wild Space is, do I need it?
There are many reasons that light might be needed in a Wild Space. Lighting can be important for safety, particularly when wayfinding in the dark, or it might be needed for security, particularly where Wild Spaces are in public or community spaces.
Some dim lighting might be needed occasionally to help you enjoy your Wild Space for longer – sitting out on dark evenings to spot moths, bats and other nocturnal wildlife is a wonderful way to connect with nature, which evidence shows is great for our mental wellbeing.
Light is also an important and fun way to survey and record which species of moth might be visiting your Wild Space at night. But remember to use moth traps responsibly – many moth recorders avoid running their light-traps in the same location on consecutive nights, be mindful of neighbours, and make sure to record your sightings.
However, if you find that lighting isn’t necessary for your Wild Space, leave it out!
Can I reduce the impact of my lights?
If you need lighting in your Wild Space, don’t fret – there are steps you can take to reduce negative impacts for moths and nocturnal wildlife.
If you know light is only needed at a certain time, try using timers and setting your lights to switch off when they’re not being used. Solar powered lights are an easy and environmentally friendly way to light your Wild Space but try to ensure they are turned off before you go to bed. Motion activated lighting is also a good way to make sure that lights are only switched on when needed and don’t stay on longer than necessary.
You can also reduce the impact of lights you use by choosing lights which are warmer in colour. Cool lights, which tend to have a blueish-white tone, can be more disruptive to nocturnal insects than those with a yellow or amber tone. Using dimmers is also a good way to make sure a light is only as bright as it needs to be.
Dealing with a spillage
Sometimes it can be important to light some areas of your Wild Space and not others. Light shielding is a good way to make sure that light is directed only where it needs to be and doesn’t spill out into other areas, or upwards into the sky where it can contribute to skyglow. Find out more about shielding your lights on the Butterfly Conservation website here.
You may also want to create a place in your Wild Space that’s dedicated for people to enjoy in the evening. Follow our tips for selecting lighting above and try creating natural light shielding around this space with hedging or plant screens. You can also prevent light spilling out from your home into your Wild Space, whether it’s a garden, balcony, or terrace, by closing curtains or blinds when it gets dark.
Shed some light
Sometimes, light spills might be coming from sources outside of your control. This is likely to be the case in urban or suburban areas where streetlights are more common or there is more outdoor lighting. If you’d like to tackle light pollution in your local area, start by raising awareness among your neighbours, or join a local community group and shed some light on the impact of light pollution on wildlife. You could even write to your local council and ask them what they’re doing to tackle light pollution. While streetlights are often necessary for safety, shielding, changing the type of light used, only keeping them on as long as needed, and making use of new technology which adjusts their brightness during the night, can all make a huge difference for our nocturnal wildlife.
Interested in finding about more about light pollution and its impacts on moths? Visit Join the dark side | Butterfly Conservation (butterfly-conservation.org)