The effect of electric bridge lighting at night on mayfly activity

Dorukalp Durmus, Julian Wang, Shawn Good, Benjamin Basom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Phototactic and polarotactic aquatic insects, such as mayflies, can be drawn to electric lighting on bridges at night. Past research investigating the effect of light intensity, polarization, and spectrum on mayflies suggests that a combination of different techniques can reduce the number of mayflies attracted to bridges. Here, various lighting strategies are systematically tested on Veterans Memorial Bridge in Pennsylvania to investigate the effect of lighting on mayflies and address safety concerns caused by their mass crowding. Isolated trials on different parts of the bridge tested the effectiveness of correlated color temperature, chromaticity, ultraviolet radiation, shielding, and polarization. Results indicate that mayflies were more attracted to ultraviolet radiation, blue and green light, and polarized light than other lighting conditions. Shielding was minimally effective in reducing the number of mayflies on the bridge when supported by the change in light source spectrum. While the correlated color temperature did not result in a statistically significant impact, the spectral power distribution of the light sources was a major influencer for mayfly activity. Future research should investigate the effect of radiant intensity and timing on mayfly activity. Smart solid-state lighting systems and controls can also be used to adjust the light levels when needed to reduce adverse effects on aquatic insects and aid traffic safety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2934
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 2 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Control and Optimization
  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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