So what really happens when you use night lights in your garden? Most of us know the majority of plant pollination by either the wind or by insects. What you may not have considered is that there are two basic kinds of insects responsible for pollination.
There are insects that work during the day, and another group that work at night.
As some of the daytime pollinators such as bees are being threatened by environmental pollution, it’s important to understand the nocturnal pollinators are also influenced by human behaviour.
The nocturnal pollinators fly, quite obviously, at night. They are genetically predisposed to flying with extremely limited amounts of light.
The research showed that the flowers on meadow gardens that were illuminated with natural street lighting were visited two thirds less frequently by the pollinators than those gardens that were nearby but out of the street lamp effect. This reduced the seed and fruit set of the plants and thereby reduced the reproduction.
This means that normal street lighting will have an influence on your garden and if you add night lighting, whether it is solar or electrically driven, the plants will be negatively influenced because the nocturnal pollinators will avoid the light.
As a side note, the research points out there are almost 300 insects species that work at night.
As a second note, this also means the extra light we provide our gardens at night will reduce the nocturnal insect populations because of their inability to work in lit environments.
So while it is an enjoyable experience to have gardens that are lit at night, you may want to consider ensuring that parts of your property are not lit during the deepest hours of the night or when you’re not out there enjoying the garden.
Knop E., Zoller L., Ryser R., Gerpe Ch., Hörler M., Fontaine C. (2017) Artificial light at night as a new threat to pollination. Nature, 02. August 2017,