Most night flying insects get attracted to lights both indoors and outdoors. Some bugs like mosquitoes and gnats bite humans to suck blood while others will continue their buzzing activities without harm. Bug zappers are among popular ways of controlling stubborn insects. BUT, do bug zappers work?
Yes, bug zappers indiscriminately kill insects that get attracted to the device’s ultraviolet light. However, mosquitoes and other biting insects not attracted to the UV light may not be lured into the high voltage grid. This creates a serious concerns as to why would a zapper kill all harmless non-target insects at the expense of few harmful ones.
A bug zapper also known as an electrical discharge insect control system is a device that produce ultraviolet light to attract bugs, then electrocute to kill them. On the outer part if a grounded metal or plastic casing that house a pair of charged wire grid surrounding a special fluorescent bulb.
Electrical supply is used to power a bug zapper for both UV light generation and charge. A transformer in the device steps up standard power 120V to 2000 or more volts which kills insects. Bug zappers come in many shapes including lantern, cylinder or a big rectangular cube.
Do Bug Zappers Work?
Bug zappers kill thousands of insects per day. They get attracted to ultraviolet light and as they pass through the grid to access the bulb, the high electric voltage in the wire mesh kills them instantly. You’ll often hear a sound as this happen.
Bug zappers are indiscriminative in killing insects, and the most targeted are those that gets attracted to the ultraviolet light produced by the device. Not all killed bugs are harmful, for this reason, there is a concern as to why a bug zapper kill thousands of non-targeted insects who are harmless.
Insects are important part of the ecosystem as most of them serve as food for birds and nocturnal animals. Affected are also agro-beneficial insects that act as pollinating agents or nitrogen converters. It is unfortunate that deadly insects not attracted to UV light like mosquitoes may not be controlled by a bug zapper.
The world is currently facing a crisis in climate change and rapid extinction of animals, flora, and natural habitats, it is therefore not the best plan to indiscriminately kill thousands of harmless insects while targeting only few unwanted species.
In the process of zapping bugs, some body parts or able to splash or evaporate into the air. This is a great health concern if the killed insects contain dangerous bacteria. Exposure to such microorganism can lead to severe human or animal infections in the future.
Do Bug Zappers Kill Mosquitoes?
Mosquitoes are among the deadliest insects you will see swarming around your porch light. They are known to attack humans to suck blood and in the process they spread infectious diseases. Most people buy bug zappers with an aim of killing mosquitoes, but you’ll be shocked to get the facts.
Mosquitoes are not attracted to UV light produced by a bug zapper. They are highly attracted to moisture and carbon dioxide in human breath and sweat. This is the reason you will hear them buzzing around your face at night and even daytime.
A study by the University of Delaware established that of about 14,000 insects killed during 10 weeks of tracking 6 residential bug zappers, only 31 were found to be biting insects (including mosquitoes and gnats). This is simply 0.22%, which shows that bug zappers do not attract as many mosquitoes as other insects.
There are many ways you can use to control mosquitoes in your home. Eliminating their breeding sites and hideouts is more natural and safe. Remove any standing water in yard, cut tall grasses and overgrown tree branches and pick up leaves, cans and old tires.
When outdoors enjoying your evening, you can use broad-spectrum insect repellants. Most of the effective mosquito repellents for yard contain DEET or essential oils which effectively repel mosquitoes and other biting insects. Be sure to read and follow label instructions before use.
Mosquitoes are weak flying insects that can’t withstand a strong breeze. For this reason, a fan will effectively keep them away. Direct the air flow below your furniture as this is where mosquitoes hide or attack from.
Do Bug Zappers Work on Flies?
Flies are also stubborn insects that will not let you have fun on your patio or deck. They are essentially good at spreading disease causing germs. Since a bug zapper ultimately kill every insect, flies can also be exterminated if they get their way into the device.
Flies have a poor vision and for this reason it may be difficult for them to get attracted by the ultraviolet radiation used by a bug zapper to lure insects. Flies are also not much active during the night and few will be targeted in the evening hours.
Since flies are attracted by smell or odors, maintaining high levels of hygiene in your home will reduce their presence. Get rid of decomposing matters such as rotting food, garbage cans and even animal feces. Clean your sink and bathroom drains using diluted bleach solution to get rid of odors.
You can also make a homemade fly trap and use it in areas where flies are common. Apple cider vinegar or a rotting apple fruit in a jar can help in trapping flies and controlling gnats in your home. Commercial fly traps can also offer a lasting control solution.
Check out our article here on what attracts flies and how to get rid of them.
Alternatives to Bug Zapper
There are many safe ways of controlling targeted bugs in your home or backyard. To begin with, establish what really them. Usually, night flying insects are commonly attracted to white or bluish light. They use light for navigation and the concentrated beams end up confusing and confining them to that particular point.
Odors and some form of scents can also welcome bugs in your home. You can use olfactory to trap them. The following are more helpful tips for keeping away bugs.
- Using yellow bulbs is among ways of keeping bugs away from your porch light. Further, turning off some lights that are not really important will reduce the number of bugs coming around.
- Install a bug screen in your windows, doors or around your porch. This is a special mesh that will prevent bugs from interfering with your activities.
- Use insect repellent products that are proven safe around humans and pets. These include DEET products and citronella sprays. Be sure to use as directed by the manufacturer.
- Remove their habitat – most bugs live or hide in dark moist areas. Clear your home of such areas to keep away mosquitoes, gnats and stinking bugs.
- Encourage natural predators such as birds and lizards on your porch or patio who will reduce the bug population by feeding on them.
- Contact pest control agencies who have the mandate and skills to effectively control bugs in your area.
A bug zapper kills bugs without use of chemical toxins but not a great option for biodiversity. The high electric charge ends up killing harmless or beneficial insects. It is therefore important you invest in other natural or safe alternatives of controlling bugs.