Once on site, researchers lived in a small tent town beneath a larger tent structure to protect them from intense rain. They installed various arrangements of LED lights and collected the insects that showed up, and then sorted, identified and counted the insects.

“Our results aligned nearly exactly with the predictions from Travis Longcore’s previous work,” said Deichmann, the study’s lead author. Longcore’s earlier studies identified an optimal light spectrum range for as many insects as possible at the same time.

The results also confirm that it is fairly easy for a company or new community to reduce their lighting’s impact on insects and biodiversity — simply select lamps that are least likely to attract not only insects but other wildlife. Lighting can be selected so that it interferes less with the natural behaviors of sea turtles, frogs and other species that are affected by artificial light at night.

Multiple studies in recent years have warned about the decline of insect populations and species diversity. As more infrastructure encroaches on natural ecosystems, the UCLA–Smithsonian research shows one way to minimize humans’ impact on them. Dimmer lights are better and it’s best if lights can be shut off at night. When a location must be lit at night, it’s better to go with amber-colored light than white light.

If lights attract insects that carry disease or cause the death of thousands of insects that pollinate food plants, human communities will pay a big price, Deichmann said.

The findings also have relevance far beyond the Amazon — and even beyond wildlife habitats generally.

“Changing your lights is something you can do right on your front porch,” Deichmann said.

“Or you can take action to make sure that the lights in your neighborhood are going to have the least impact possible on nature.”

For example, bug zappers emit light that attracts insects, but they are inefficient at killing species such as mosquitoes. They tend to primarily kill beneficial insects while drawing pests closer.

For Longcore, the results revealed a relatively basic message for everyone who chooses lighting for their homes and businesses.

“Don’t get the cold-light LEDs and put them all over your property,” he said, referring to colors like blues and violets. “Individual decisions do add up.”