So, you have some small flying pests in your house that are attracted to lights around your home.
And it’s driving you nuts!
They’re on your lamp shades. They’re on your bathroom lights. And they’re even on your walls and ceiling!
What are they? And where are they coming from?
In this article, we’ll cover these topics:
- Why there are flying pests around your lights and where they’re coming from
- Techniques to identify the flying pests
- A list of the common tiny bugs that are found on lamp shades, fixtures, and covers
- How to get rid of the flying pests naturally and quickly
- Steps to get rid of bugs from light fixtures on the ceiling, bathroom, recessed lighting, etc.
- Ways to prevent bugs from buzzing around your outdoor light fixtures
- And more
You’ll have a solid foundation by the time you get through this article.
And if you have questions, post them and ask me.
Feel free to bookmark this page for easy reference on your journey to get rid of these annoying flies.
Sound good? Let’s get rid of those pesky lamp pests!
What tiny bugs are attracted to light?
The first step to actually get rid of the pests is to identify them.
Without knowing what pest you’re dealing with, the DIY home remedy you use to get rid of them may be futile.
There are a few common bugs that you’ll find buzzing around the various light sources in your house- but every situation is different.
Here are a few questions you should ask yourself:
What bugs are native to your state?
Depending on your native area, there are some pests that live right in your neighborhood. If you’re able to do some research online to see common pests in your area, you can quickly find out what the bugs are.
Because there are thousands of bug species, it’s not practical for me to list every single tiny bug that’s attracted to your indoor or outdoor lights.
Do you have houseplants?
Remember that pests are attracted to your plants indoors, and will take the chance to live on your plants if you provide it to them.
If you have plants around the home, check if they’re related to the tiny bugs hovering around your lights, lamp shades, and ceilings and walls.
Plants are just homes for bugs
Typically, flying pests will start near the source (e.g. houseplant) and make their way to nearby light fixtures.
Then, they’ll migrate to other nearby ones. They can even follow a pattern of lights depending on your lighting habits.
For example, if you turn on the light closest to the source of the infestation, you’ll see the bugs come out at night and fly around the light source.
Then, turn on another light across the room and turn off the first one. You’ll see that they migrate over to the other light. This is true for many pests, especially flying termites.
This is why you may not always notice the bugs right away- they could be moving between lights and you don’t really know where they’re coming from.
So that’s just something to keep in mind.
But if you have plants indoors, know that they can attract many different pests. This is why you should take action to get rid of any bugs on your houseplants. Whether you’re growing basil or succulents, they’re all vulnerable.
Are they near windows or doors?
Do you leave your doors open? Do you have damaged screens on your windows? Leaving obvious openings to your home allows for outside pests to come in.
And keeping things in a state of disrepair means that bugs can enter, such as:
- Torn or ripped patio door or window screens
- Foundation cracks
- Damaged weatherstripping
- Gaps or crevices
- Caulk damage
Consider checking the perimeter of your house and look for problems like this. Every single nook and cranny can be a possible point of entry for bugs.
Once a pest comes in, they can start to breed and soon you’ll have a host of pests to deal with. Flying bugs, crawling bugs, tiny black, green, brown, and silver flying bugs are just a few, to begin with.
Do you have pets?
Those with dogs, cats, or other animals constantly going in and out of their home makes an easy target for pests to come in.
Using the door for potty means a chance for a flying pest to sneak through. Using the doggy door means a fly’s entrance is just a door flap away. Feeding the pets outdoors means possible hitchhikers on the fur.
There are so many possibilities. But you should definitely not overlook this if you have a dog or cat. They can be carriers or they can be an indirect cause of bugs around your home.
Why are there bugs in my light?
Short answer: Bugs are attracted to warmth and light.
Long answer: There’s a reason why bugs generally tend to spring up during the summer months. Moths, flies, mites, and ticks are all common pests.
But guess what? There’s no surefire answer to this question. Bugs practice what’s known as phototaxis which means they basically move like a zombie towards any light sources.
This is why things like bug zappers work. The bugs you see flying around your indoor lights or outdoor patio lamps are positively phototactic.
The light acts as an artificial sun that they use to guide themselves. They’re not bright enough to discern between your lampshade or the sun as a natural light source.
They just keep going towards whatever they see is bright. Patio lights, desk lamps, and spotlights are all sources of artificial light that emit steady sources of photons.
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Thus, you can’t really blame the bugs for finding their way into your light.
How do bugs get inside light bulbs?
Bugs can easily sneak their way into light fixtures, covers, and shades.
But they can’t get inside an actual light bulb. That’s impossible as the bulb is fully encased in glass, unless there’s a defect or it was packaged that way at the production plant.
For 99.99% of people, the issue will be bugs stuck in the light fixtures that accumulate over time.
These can be unsightly and annoying with just the thought that there are bugs stuck up in the recessed ceiling lights, bathroom fixtures, or even your own room’s night desk!
There are a few different reasons why they appear:
- Seeking out warmer environments and using the heat emitted by lights
- Got stuck in the fixture while looking for food
- Or they can even be a species of bugs that are prone to live in light fixtures
Where do they come from?
Bugs that can fly can lay eggs within the cover or light source.
The larvae can then emerge into a warm environment. And it makes sense as many moths, flies, and other pests are drawn towards light.
So it makes sense to find bugs crawling around all over the cover or shade. The larvae may not be able to figure out how to escape the fixture, so they get stuck in there. Some will be killed from the heat or dehydration, or possibly starvation.
This may be why you see dead bugs caught in your light fixtures all the time. Remember that lots of pests are phototactic and this attracts them to the light.
There’s no real explanation without seeing your specific scenario. If you attempt to clear out the fixtures from bugs but they keep showing up again, consider hiring a professional or sealing up your home from entry points.
Do bed bugs hide in lamp shades?
Yes, bed bugs can hide in lamp shades.
Although their name states they’re BED bugs, they also will definitely migrate to nearby fixtures and furniture and make a home out of it. This means things like your closet, drawers, baseboards, electrical outlets, and lamp shades.
They typically feed on human skin at night and then retreat into small crevices that touch their body on all sides. This makes them feel safe and secure. Lamp shades can easily light up a bed bug as you’ll see them cast on your cover.
How to get bugs out of light fixtures
Do you have bugs stuck in your lights? Recessed lights? Or bathroom light fixtures? Here’s how to get bugs out of a light fixture.
First, you’ll want to find out if the bugs stuck in your lights are still alive. If so, you may want to have a bottle of DIY bug killer ready.
Here’s a quick recipe:
- 8 drops of dish soap to 1 cup of water.
- Pour into a spray bottle.
You can alternatively use pure rubbing alcohol. 70% is fine.
Put on safety gear
Put on your safety gloves, goggles, and wear long clothing. Make sure the area you’re working on is secure and doors are shut just in case any flying pests come out.
Also, turn off all power to the light and PRACTICE SAFE HANDLING of the lighting fixture. If you don’t know what you’re doing, get a professional.
You can seriously hurt yourself or someone else, or damage your property if not done correctly.
Proceed at your own risk. This page is for educational purposes only and is not guaranteed to be an accurate representation of your own lighting situation.
Remove the light fixture
Next, remove the lighting cover carefully.
Bugs that are already dead will just stick to the cover. Bugs that gather on the inside of the cover over the bulb will usually end up near the light.
Sometimes they may even be inside the bulb itself. Other times, they’re usually caught in the funnel shape of floor lamp covers.
Clean up the bugs
Clean up using a light mixture of water and a general purpose cleaner of your choice.
If you have a fancy expensive bulb cover, make sure that the spray you use doesn’t damage it. Remove any dead bugs and spray any live ones with the DIY solution you made.
Some bugs may be stuck to the cover because they got burned in or dehydrated.
You may have to give these bugs additional spritzes and wipe them off.
After all the bugs are removed, look for possible entry points.
Check for entry points in the light fixture
Do your due diligence and check for holes around the recessed lighting.
Also, check for gaps or crevices around the bulb socket. If you have a fluorescent tube light, check around the ceiling for gaps or cracks.
Any kind of entryway can be a possible point that allows bugs to get into your light fixture. You’ll want to find out how they get into the light and seal it up or replace it.
They could also be coming in through the window screening, damaged foundation points, cracks in your walls, etc. check around the room for any of these. Check thoroughly.
Replace the light cover
After you’re done, replace the light cover and restore power to the light.
Keep the lights on and check for bugs. When you disturb their environment like this, they may scatter.
The lights will draw the moths or flies that escaped back to the light. Kill them when you see them.
Check for entry points in the room
Check around the room for additional pests and handle them.
This should clear up any light fixture and the process is the same for all types of lighting that have pests stuck.
Electrical outlets, door gaps, vents, attic windows, basement windows, and even damaged rooftops are all entry points.
The most obvious one is the window screens that are commonly found near bathrooms, windows, or patio doors.
Even in the case that it’s not damaged, consider that the mesh could be too coarse which allows tiny flies into your home. Replace it with a finer mesh to prevent insects from creeping through them into your home.
Keep curtains and blinds closed
You should also use your blinds or curtains in the room and shut them or close them at night.
This will prevent bugs from being drawn to your interior lighting at night and may help them from coming in through window cracks, damaged weatherstripping, or even through your AC unit.
Watch out for exterior lights
Exterior lighting can also be a problem, especially near windows and doors.
The bugs will congregate on the outside of your home first.
Then they’ll be drawn to the lights on the inside. If you prevent them from flying around the perimeter of your home, this may help stop them from getting inside.
Read the section titled “how to keep bugs out of outdoor light fixtures” for steps on keeping bugs away from your outdoor lighting.
How to get rid of small flying bugs that are attracted to light
Here are some DIY home remedies to control these pests.
Start by finding the bug that sounds like the closest fit on this list. And then take the appropriate measures to eliminate them.
There’s a link to a pest control article for each section. Reference it to find out the steps necessary to eliminate the pest.
Little brown flying bugs
There are two common brown flies that you may find in your home.
Fruit fly (vinegar fly)
These flies seemingly appear out of nowhere and you’ll find them hovering around spoiled or fermenting fruit.
Also known as vinegar flies, they’re a common household pest that you’ll find on overripe fruits and veggies. Fruit flies are about ⅛” in length and have a brown or black appearance.
They have very short antennas that are invisible to the naked eye. They also tend to be slow fliers and hover around in small circles and predictable patterns. Females lay about 500 eggs on fermenting fruits and veggies which develop in larvae.
Fruit fly locations
They crawl into the food and consume it before pupation. Then the adults emerge and will hover around lights.
These flies are able to enter homes through window and door screens, and you’ll need a smaller mesh to protect against them.
They mainly eat fresh fruits and veggies and fermenting ones because of the yeast. When the newly emerged adults come out, they’re attracted to bright lights.
So this could be the reason why you have them buzzing around your lights. Anything that has a lot of food particles and moist surfaces can provide breeding conditions for fruit flies.
Common areas where they breed are floor mops, food disposal units, trash cans, drain traps, refrigerator drain pans, recycling containers, discarded condiment or alcohol containers, spilled liquids, dishcloths, dishwashers, and compost piles.
Fruit fly control
Thankfully, they’re easy to get rid of. Just remove the source of their breeding site and clean it up with some dish soap and water mixture (8 drops per cup of water).
This should remove the pest. You can also seal up any entrances to your home that are glaringly obvious to prevent future fruit flies from getting into your house.
These bugs have the appearance of small black flies that are usually found around moist areas. As the name states, they tend to nest in drains.
Your shower drain, sink drain, basement drain, or even garden drain all provide environments for them to feed and breed.
These flies are also known as moth flies, sewage flies, or filter flies. They have a fuzzy appearance because they’re very hairy. But this also makes them very easy to ID.
Each drain fly is about 3/16” in length and has pale brown to black coloration.
They can also be silver or gray and have lengthy antennas that are about half their body length and ovular, veiny wings. They can also fly short distances or hover around drainage sites.
Drain fly locations
These bugs will take shelter near sources of moisture in your home.
This means bathrooms and kitchen lights are common areas you may find adult flies. But they can also show up in your basement or other damp areas.
However, they’ve been observed in more than just shower drains:
- Sewer backups
- Trash cans
- Roof gutters
- Plant saucers
- Storm drains
- Air conditioners
- Septic tanks
- Rain barrels
- Cooling towers
- Sewage containers
- Treatment plants
These pests can quickly and rapidly multiply, with a full life cycle completed in just over 2 weeks.
If you notice flying pests that are fuzzy or hairy, they’re most likely drain flies.
The adult female lays about 70 eggs on a jelly film which is found in the majority of drains. This area is free from water flow and the result forms the bacterial buildup and sludge over time.
The larvae and pupae slowly feed and live on the film by eating microscopic bacteria, fungi, algae, and animals. The film collects a ton of nasty food particles for them to eat.
You can imagine that every time you shower or wash your dishes, you’re just adding more food for them to consume. The adults then emerge and can fly about.
You may notice them around your bathroom light fixtures or recessed lighting. Because of their size, they can penetrate your window screenings and you’ll need to replace it if you want to keep them out.
Use a smaller mesh with a finer footprint if you can prove that they’re entering through the window screen. These flies will usually “hop” from one place to another because they are weak fliers and rely on wind currents to move.
Drain fly control
Drain flies can be tricky, but you can use a combination of natural techniques such as essential oils, making your own drain fly killer, or simply cleaning the drain thoroughly and removing the sludge they live on.
Tiny green flies
Seeing small green pests flying around your lamps? Here’s what they might be.
They could be no-see-ums or midge bugs.
These are tiny green bugs that fly around and will bite you if they can. If you fly pests hanging around your lights in your home, and they bite, they could be midget bugs.
These are relatively easy to get rid of because they don’t naturally want to be indoors.
So when you get rid of the current infestation and stop additional midges from coming in, you’re set. Check out this guide on controlling no-see-ums.
Thrips are also an outdoor bug that can make their way into homes.
These bugs can also bite, but only a specific species will do so. These are seasonal pests and usually, only come out during the hottest part of the year.
Each thrip is about 1mm in size and will bite people in an attempt to extract nutrients. In nature, thrips eat leaves, flowers, and stems to extract the plant juice with their piercing mouthpiece. They’re not too bright and will do the same to human skin.
Usually, if you have thrip bites, they come in clusters.
That’s because they’ll fly all over your body to find the sweet spot with the plant juice they’re looking for.
Most people will feel a pinprick and itch, but will go away in a few days. Thrips are extremely common in rural grassy areas.
So if you live there or in a native area, you shouldn’t be surprised if thrips make their way into your home. Check out the guide on how to get rid of them.
These tiny green bugs are attracted to light and will be found on lamps, ceiling lights, recessed lights, light fixtures, etc.
They’re very commonly described as tiny green flying bugs that attract light. Thrips can also be neon orange or yellow.
There are a few common pests that this could be.
Little black flying bugs (fungus gnats)
These are likely fungus gnats.
They come from the soil as the adult form emerging from a worm-like maggot. If you have indoor plants, the soil could’ve been housing these guys for a long time before you even knew they hatched.
The adult bug looks like a tiny black fly with a noticeable pair of antennae. They hang around patio doors, windows, and skylights.
You may also find them around your desk lamps, floor lamps, ceiling lights, spotlights, or lamp shades at night.
They’re harmless, but they seek out CO2, which is what comes out of your nose and mouth. This is why they’re so annoying and tend to hang around your face. Here’s a guide on getting rid of fungus gnats.
Tiny black bugs that crawl
If the bug you’re dealing with doesn’t fly, it’s likely a beetle.
- Does it have a hard shell on its back?
- Does it have segmented and noticeable head and body parts?
- Do you see a pair of two antennae sticking out the front?
- How about 6 limbs?
If your answer is “yes” to all, then you have a beetle problem.
Common house beetles
Beetles aren’t always attracted to light sources, but some like warm temperatures. So that may explain why you sometimes see beetles crawling on the lamp shade.
They could be seeking out the warmer temperature surrounding the lights in your home, especially if it’s colder in the ambient temperatures.
Also, pantry beetles could be another possibility.
Similar to the Indian meal moth, these are the beetles that feast on dry grains found in your kitchen, food storage, or whatever else you keep dry goods.
There are many different types:
These are all beetles that feed on dry, processed grains like powder, flour, cereal, bread, pasta, dried fruits, nuts, cousins, pet food, corn, bird feed, dog food, etc. usually they hide in the dark to feed, but they may have been disturbed or seeking other food sources.
Or just finding heat.
Thus, they may have escaped their previous feeding environment and now are found all over your home.
Perhaps the warmth of the lights are just what they want. Or you only notice them on the lights because it makes them obvious.
These are often tiny flies that are attracted to light. With their small flying size, they can easily get into light fixtures and get stuck there.
They’re little bugs that buzz around when disturbed from their home environment.
How to keep bugs out of outdoor light fixtures
Here are some tips on keeping bugs out of your garden lights.
The absolute easiest way is to use alternative lighting. You can replace the light with a yellow light bulb, which is known to repel bugs.
Though the light emitted isn’t the most aesthetic, the yellow light has been proven to repel pests.
Garlic will repel many flying pests and you can use it directly on most lights.
Mix 1 tablespoon of garlic juice and 6 tablespoons of water. Combine into a spray bottle. Then spray it directly onto the light cover.
Don’t get any into the actual light bulb or socket, as this can pose an electrical hazard. Watch out for power outlets. The point is to completely cover the actual light guard in garlic spray. The solution will keep pests away for quite some time.
You’ll have to reapply when you start to notice bugs starting to form on the light again.
Use citronella lights or candles
Citronella is a natural substance that will deter pests.
This is commonly sold in stores as a natural mosquito and flea repellent.
There are many different applications of citronella, such as candles, flame torches, and lights. Use whatever works for you.
Citronella has a pleasant minty aromatic scent which is nice to humans but nasty to pests. This can help repel pests from your porch light or act as a substitute.
You can plant marigold if you’re in the right USDA hardiness zone. The scent of the plant keeps many flying bugs away.
Clean up your yard
If you have various recyclables or receptacles around the light, be sure to clean them up.
Practicing good yard maintenance is key to keeping your yard free from a host of different bugs.
This means doing things to keep your yard tidy:
- Dispose of clutter
- Organize tools, patio furniture, BBQs, etc.
- Remove leaf litter
- Prune plants
- Secure compost bins
- Keeping woodpiles safe from pests
- Cleaning up drains
- Maintaining birdbaths and feeders
- Locking up pet or bird food
- Keeping gutters clean
- Maintaining water features or fountains
- Harvesting fruits/veggies on time
You’ll be surprised at the reduction of pests just by giving your garden some proper care.
Remove water sources
Any sources of water should be removed.
Stagnant water should NEVER be accessible to the outdoor pests. This is an easy fix for most people.
If you have birdbaths, fountains, pools, or other water features, consider adding natural predators that eat up bug larvae found in the water to control vectors.
You can also clean birdbaths frequently to stop the spread of bacteria and pests. Flying bugs tend to use birdbaths as a source of food and breeding environment since they can reach the bath.
For fountains, you can use bug repellent solutions and perhaps add some predators like minnow fish. Pools can be controlled by regular shock treatments to prevent pool bugs and other vectors.
Use a false light
If you really can’t get rid of the insects around your home’s outdoor lighting system, consider using light to draw them away.
You can set up a bright spotlight or mounted light some distance away from critical areas like your porch, windows, and doors.
The bugs may then be drawn to this bright source of light rather than the lights closer to your home’s entry points.
Basically, the bright light acts as a false bait to keep bugs farther from your home in an attempt to keep them out.
Fewer bugs nearby your home means fewer bugs in your lamp shades. To save power and make this a green approach, use a solar-powered light source.
This makes it easy because you don’t have to mess with wires or electrical hookups and you don’t have to spend additional payments on your monthly electric bill.
Remove organic matter
The last thing you can do is to remove all organic matter around your patio lights.
This means pruning leaves, removing clutter and litter, and taking care of any foliage that falls to the floor. Flying pests will feed on debris, compost, clippings from grass, or any other foliage.
They use them as breeding grounds and since they are close to your lights, don’t be surprised when they emerge from their eggs and are drawn to your decor.
Here are some additional handy references you may find useful:
- Why Are Bugs Attracted To light? – IFLScience
- Phototaxis – Carnegie’s Department of Plant Biology
- Phototaxis – AccessScience from McGraw-Hill Education
Did you get rid of the bugs around lights in your home?
By now, you should have all the basics covered.
You should be able to identify, control, and exterminate the bugs flying around inside your home and no longer be annoyed by them. Enjoy your shows. No more flies buzzing around your face.
If you have questions, drop a comment below. Or if you found this page helpful, consider telling a friend.
Thanks for reading.
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.