Bug Zappers for Mosquito Control: Are They Effective?

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There are many tools and sprays out there that kill and/or repel mosquitoes. Some of these methods have proven to be effective while others are less effective. Today, we’re going to answer some questions about bug zappers including how they work and how good they are at reducing and limiting the mosquito population.

What are bug zappers?

Bug zappers are devices that are used to kill different bugs, including mosquitoes. Generally, bug zappers use an ultraviolet light source to attract bugs. They then kill those bugs with an electric shock.

Bug zappers are most effective against insects that are attracted to ultraviolet light. The name “zapper” comes from the zapping sound that the device makes when electrocuting a bug.

How do bug zappers work?

Bug zappers use electricity to kill mosquitoes or other pests that fly through the electric grid inside the zapper.

A bug zapper consists of a few parts such as the housing, the ultraviolet light source, the wire grid, and the electric power supply. The housing of a zapper is plastic or grounded metal. The shape is usually rounded or cubic, resembling a lantern. Most casings have a hanger on the top to allow you to hang the zapper easily.

An ultraviolet light bulb attracts insects to the zapper. There’s an electrified wire grid around the bulb that kills any pests that touch it.

There are usually two wire grids around the bulb with a small gap between them. When an insect flies into the zapper and touches the grid, it receives an electric shock that kills it instantly. The dead bugs fall into a special collection tray under the zapper or drop to the ground underneath the zapper.

The design of insect zappers ensures that animals or humans will be safe if they touch it. The housing keeps humans and animals from touching or accessing the zapper’s electric grid.

Bug zappers are effective against those bugs that can detect and are attracted to ultraviolet light. When an insect detects the ultraviolet light emitted by the zapper, they fly towards the light source. Once they get through the plastic casing and reach the electric grid that covers the light, more than 2000V of electricity electrocutes them.

How effective are bug zappers at mosquito control?

Studies examining the efficiency of bug zappers have determined that they’re ineffective against mosquitoes. This means that they won’t have a significant impact on the population of mosquitoes in the target area.

The problem lies in the fact that mosquitoes don’t use ultraviolet light to find their victims. Mosquitoes find humans in other ways. The most common of these is by detecting the carbon dioxide that we exhale when breathing.

Of course, a bug zapper can catch the occasional mosquito and electrocute it. The majority of the bugs that a zapper kills aren’t mosquitoes, however, but rather harmless insects such as beetles, midges, and different aquatic insects. While a bug zapper can kill a high number of insects and bugs during the night, only a small percentage of those will be mosquitoes.

Interesting Fact

According to some studies, mosquitoes make up only 1–5% of the bugs killed by a bug zapper. What’s even more surprising is that, according to different bug zapper efficiency studies, most of the mosquitoes killed by the zapper are actually males. Don’t forget that male mosquitoes don’t suck our blood. Only females do.


Even though bug zappers are ineffective at mosquito control, many people still use them to combat their mosquito problems. Why? Because bug zappers are effective at killing insects.

You can easily see the results for yourself after leaving a zapper working overnight. When you look in the bug tray in the morning, there’ll be a lot of dead insects, including mosquitoes. Even so, the percentage of mosquito females in the tray will be very low.

People also enjoy the noise that a zapper makes when electrocuting an insect. It makes them feel that the zapper is actively working and killing bugs.

If you have a bug zapper near you, however, there’s a significantly higher chance that a mosquito is going to detect the carbon dioxide or different odors coming from your body and will fly towards you. It won’t pay even the slightest amount of attention to the ultraviolet light emitted by the zapper.



Is there a reference for this line?
‘Studies have shown that only 1-5% of bugs killed by a bug zapper are going to be mosquitoes, and what surprises even more is that the largest percent of mosquitoes executed by the zapper are actually males…’


    Yes, you can read more information about this here.


    Thank you,
    I meant a ‘scientific reference” (article, book, etc).
    Still, none of those articles in reference list of that link says that male mosquitoes are more often caught than females (I read them already).



When choosing the best mosquito trap, people need to consider the product’s effectiveness, as well as the possible health consequences from using it.


    I definitely agree with you! But as long as you use mosquito traps and zappers correctly and as advised, they won’t do any harm to your health or the health of those around you.


Many zappers now use octenol attractant specifically to bring in mosquitoes to the zapper. I have noticed that mosquitoes are the majority of the insects in the tray when using it.

I’d like to see a study that takes it into account.

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