Do Mosquito Zappers Really Work?

Most people are familiar with mosquito-zappers. The glow of the lights, the satisfying “snap” when an unsuspecting insect meets the business-end of one of these devices. Mosquito-Zappers, also known as bug zappers or, more formally, as electrical discharge insect control systems, have been around for quite some time. Are they effective though? Do they actually work to control mosquito populations and prevent these pests from harassing those who enjoy being outdoors? Do mosquito-zappers really work?


How Mosquito-Zappers Are Supposed to Work

Standard mosquito-zappers consist of a light source to act as an attractant inside an electrical grid. The light attracts insects and the electrical grid electrocutes, or “zaps,” them when they come into contact with it on their way to the light source. There may be slight design variations like trays to catch the dead insects but, for the most part, mosquito-zappers are all based on the same principle of light source and electrical grid. Mosquito-zappers do kill insects, but do they kill the right insects?


Why Mosquito-Zappers Don’t Generally Work

Mosquito-Zappers are excellent for killing insects attracted to light. Unfortunately, mosquitoes and most other biting insects are not attracted to light. Furthermore, the vast majority of insects that are attracted to light are harmless or even beneficial insects. Not only does this not accomplish the task at hand — eliminating mosquitoes — it has the negative effect of killing harmless and even beneficial insects. Some scientists worry that may be enough to disrupt local ecosystems given the number of these units that have been sold.


What Mosquitoes Are Attracted To

As previously mentioned, mosquitoes are not attracted to mosquito-zapper light sources. What, then, are mosquitoes attracted to? The answer is that there are a number of human attributes that collectively attract mosquitoes. They include body heat, CO2, sweat, octenol and a number of other compounds that may be on our skin or in our breath. Much research has been done to pinpoint a smoking gun that universally attracts mosquitoes. What researchers have found, though, is that different species of mosquitoes are attracted by different combinations of the aforementioned attributes making it difficult to develop a universal attractant.


Specialty Mosquito-Zappers

Specialty mosquito-zappers that utilize CO2, octenal, vacuums or some combination of those are available to consumers and may be more effective. These units can be very expensive to purchase, upwards of $700 for some models, and relatively costly to operate. Users of these products have shared mixed reviews. Some are happy with their units while others report little or no success with them. These specialty mosquito-zappers are rather expensive and it would appear that success may depend on which species of mosquitoes you’re dealing with, geographic locations and possibly other factors.

Mosquito-Zappers as a Health Hazard

In addition to being an ineffective method of mosquito control, research also indicates that mosquito-zappers my pose health risks. According to researchers, mosquito-zappers can contaminate the air around themselves with zapped insect particles to a radius of about 7 feet. This means that any viruses or bacteria the zapped insects were carrying would be readily available for inhalation or contact with food or skin. Owners need to be aware of this fact and plan for appropriate placement of these devices if they decide to use them.

Although mosquito-zappers have been around for quite some time they are not regarded by experts as efficient mosquito control devices. In fact, they are thought to do more harm than good and have been proven to pose a potential health hazard. While mosquito-zappers are capable of killing insects in large numbers, they kill the wrong insects. Their method of attraction just isn’t effective on mosquitoes, and those looking to control mosquitoes might be well-served to explore alternatives to the mosquito-zapper.

Start with these handy tips for controlling mosquitoes on your own, or consider professional mosquito control service from a reputable pest control specialist.