Do Hornets Like Light? Why Hornets Seem to Attack Windows at Night

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Since you’ve stumbled your way here, we’re guessing that you’re curious about hornets and their attraction to light. But what if we tell you that they’re not “attracted” to it at all?

So do hornets like light? Let us enlighten you.

Do Hornets Like Light? Why Hornets Seem to Attack Windows at Night

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Hornets get disoriented when they come across man-made light. CC Image courtesy of Jason Jenkins on Flickr

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How Hornets are “Attracted” to Light

Like termite alates and moths, hornets have a habit of what seems like being charmed by light sources.

There are plenty of theories that try to explain this phenomenon, not just for hornets but for all the insects that have this unhealthy habit.

A particular theory described by IFL Science points out that unnatural sources of light interfere with the insects’ internal navigation systems.

Bugs today have evolved from using the moon and stars to know which direction they’re going. They stay at a specific angle that’s relative to the light source. And since these celestial objects in the sky don’t seem to move because they’re thousands or even millions of miles away, insects have developed the skill of maintaining the same angle as they fly along.

But it’s different when it comes to man-made light. Light bulbs and streetlights confuse bugs because the angle they’ve been trying to keep changes as they near the light source and eventually pass it. This forces them to hover around it, as if trying to find a way out.

​Hornets Don’t Attack Windows at Night

Just like other insects, porch lights and bright windows disorient hornets. But in their case, this fatal attraction often lead to assumptions of them attacking us humans.

You see, worker hornets are also very active at night, and seeing brightly lit rooms from glass windows, standing out in the middle of darkness, confuses them tremendously.

According to Orkin, chances are, they’ll ram into these windows and startle us. And the view from inside our houses can make it look like those hornets trying to attack us.

Hornets can Benefit from Light Sources

Light bulbs may disorient hornets and lead them to illuminated places, but there’s a happy consequence out of this confusion.

Since hornets are also predatory, moths and other insects trapped circling a light fixture are easy pickings for them. They may get sucked by the light bulb’s brightness, but they can still get a meal out of it.

How to Stop Light from Attracting Hornets

Hornets can be big and scary. But, they have their own use when it comes to maintaining nature’s proverbial balance. So if you want to keep these bugs off your house but not harm them, here’s what you can do.

  • Turn off unused lights. Yes, we know it’s a complete no-brainer! But we’ll say it anyway…. because it helps. Turn off all the unused lights in your house to keep hornets from hovering their way into your windows
  • Close the curtains. If the lights can’t be powered down, close the curtains instead. But make sure that those curtains are the thick kind. Obviously, thin and flimsy ones don’t do anything to block out the light.
  • Night lights, LED and UV lights don’t work against hornets. Even if it’s a light source that’s not as bright as traditional light bulbs, it can still disorient hornets. So replacing some light fixtures with dimmer ones won’t keep them away. Read more about this here.
  • Keep your phones and laptops inside. If you’ve ever wondered why a bug suddenly appears while you’re texting and sitting on the porch, it’s your phone that’s attracting it. It’s not just light fixtures that can lure insects in. Don’t use your devices outside the house for extended periods of time if you don’t want hornets hovering next to you.

So do hornets like light? No.

If you’ve learned anything from this post, it should be that hornets, as well as other insects, aren’t really “fond” of lights. They’re confused by it and are disoriented when it suddenly appears right in their fly zone. The takeaway is that if you want to keep your windows and your entire house free from hornets, remember to turn those lights off.