- Eliminating Pests
Have a Mosquito Problem? Zap It With These Killer Bug Lights
The Best Bug Zappers For Indoor and Outdoor Use
If bugs bug you, a badass bug zapper is the answer. It used to be that if you got a mosquito bite, you dabbed on calamine lotion and tried to ignore it. People also used to spray fogger in the kitchen while they were cooking. Now, mosquitoes carry all kinds of nasty diseases, and we're afraid to use insecticides. Fortunately, those old-school bug zappers are a chemical-free solution, and the technology is better than ever. Start using one, and people may actually come to your barbeques again. If you're the kind of person who wouldn't hurt a fly, don't worry. These are the best bug zappers for the job because they'll do all of the work for you.
A customer asked me to review these bug zappers based on manufacturer specs and user feedback, so here are the results, but before we get to them, maybe you'd be interested in learning a little more about these clever devices.
Who Thought of These Bug Zapping Devices?
We used to see bugger zappers a lot in the 1980s and even before, but they aren't actually that new. The design first appeared in a 1911 edition of Popular Mechanics. How clever! We all know that bugs, flies, beetles and moths are attracted to light, but why is that?
Scientists say that moths and other insects use the sun or the moon to give them a sense of direction. Artificial lights really threw that mechanism off, and they haven't been able to adapt. They fly toward the light and can't get away.
So, at least one clever guy, probably at his wife's instances, came up with the solution. Use a light and bait to lure bugs but cover the light with an electrified frame, so they get fried. [Insert scary laugh] Over the years, inventors have perfected the design. Conceivably blacklights mimic the sun because they give off so much light in the ultraviolet spectrum. It seems that bugs prefer this type of light. However, the light only lures the bugs in. An electrically charged grid is what kills them and makes that fantastic zapping sound.
Again, people have perfected this killing method. Nowadays, may lights use octenol lures to attract bugs during the day, especially mosquitoes. Octenol is also called mushroom alcohol, because it's produced by many mushrooms. This is a very special chemical because it's also found in sweat and on our breath, two of the things that are notorious for attracting mosquitoes. Unfortunately, octenol has an unpleasant odor, to say the least, which is why it's only used in outdoor bug zappers.
Most bug zappers today use a combination of these methods to attract and kill mosquitoes and other pests. One of the biggest advantages is that you don't need to invest in expensive chemical treatments or insecticides that might harm people, pets and the environment.
Best Portable Model: Cordless Rechargeable Insect Zapper by Stinger
Pro: Unit is portable and doesn't require a power source.
Con: The lithium ion battery only lasts for three to four hours.
If you don't have an outlet around every corner of your home, this cordless insect zapper by Stinger is a great option with an attractive price. Hang it near your patio. Use it in your RV, or take it on your next camping trip. The unit has LEDs if you need a portable lantern, a black light for zapping bugs and a smelly octenol lure that you might not want to use indoors. The good news is that this bug zapper is almost as effective without the lure. If you're using it indoors or near a power source, you can charge the battery and run the light continuously. Otherwise, you'll be limited to four bug-free hours if you're outdoors or off the grid. For best results, place the light about 10 feet away from where you're sitting to enjoy 600 square feet of clear airspace.
- Amazon rating is 3.4 stars.
- Users report problems with durability and efficacy.
- Bulbs are hard to find locally, but are available through Amazon 2 for $10.
- Housing is plastic.
- Unit is not powerful.
Tips for Getting The Most From Your Bug Zapper
- Place the unit at least 10-20 feet from where you're sitting. Otherwise, it will bring the bugs to you.
- If you're using the unit indoors, place it an an adjacent room to keep the bugs away.
- If you plan on using the unit during the day, invest in octenol lures. (Outdoor only)
- To attract fruit flies and gnats, use fly pheromone lures.
- For best results, place the unit away from competing light sources.
- Ideally, hang the unit about 6 feet of the ground.
- Outside, place the unit under the a tree canopy or wherever bugs congregate.
- Always follow manufacturer's instructions.
- Replace bulbs annually. Replace lures monthly.
Advanced Protection: Flowtron Bug Zapper with Programmable Photocell Timer
Pro: The self-regulating unit is controlled a by photocell timer.
Con: Bulbs should be replaced annually. Lures should be replaced monthly.
Coverage: 1 acre.
Flowtron makes the best bug zappers, and this state-of-the-art unit is no exception. The lamp's powerful 40-watt bulb and high-voltage grid eats bugs for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so you can finally turn the tables on those bloodsucking mosquitoes. The best feature is the programmable photocell timer that will turn the lamp on at dusk. You can let it run until dawn or activate a three- or five-hour auto-shutoff setting. Alternately, the lamp can be set to run around the clock. The ultraviolet light attracts bugs at night, and an octenol mosquito lure helps pull in bloodsuckers that are active during the day. This advanced system attracts and kills bugs in a 1-acre area and works great when placed 20 feet away from a deck or patio. The unit is intended for outdoor use only.
- Amazon customers give it 4.1 stars.
- Replacement bulb costs about $20, which is slightly cheaper than previous models.
- Photocell timer gives you multiple options for hands-free operation.
- The light is very bright, and previous Flowtron customers say it isn't quite as effective as older bug zappers.
- A 1/2-acre model is also available.
Are You Bug Zapper Savvy?
Have You Used a Bug Zapper?
Unique Design: Aspectek Indoor Insect Killer
Pro: Unit has a discreet low-profile design.
Con: Metal frame holds voltage and can shock people or pets.
Coverage: 6,000 square feet? It's hard to believe that.
Aspectek makes two popular indoor bug zappers. For small rooms, the brand's compact 20-watt unit will handle all of your bug problems. For larger areas and more serious bug invasions, opt for the larger 40-watt unit. Both use two white ultraviolet bulbs that are mounted in a low-profile housing that's just 3 inches thick. Bugs are attracted to the bright UV light and killed by the charged grid. Although it's intended for indoor use, it can also kill bugs in a garage, basement or under a covered porch. No chemical lures are required. Plus, the catch tray can be removed and washed for easy maintenance. Stink bugs, moths, mosquitoes, flies and bugs large or small will be terminated by this insect assassin. For best results, hang the unit about 6 feet from the ground using the provided chain to create a 6,000-square-foot bug-free zone. You can also set the unit on a floor or table. Just make sure that your pets or kids won't get zapped.
Editor's Note: It's impossible to truly recommend this unit when so many users report potentially hazardous wiring problems. Several handy buyers have replaced the power cord and corrected the issue, but you really shouldn't need to do that. A flaw in the wiring electrifies the metal frame and shield during and after operation, so you really need to be careful with this one. Additionally, many users report that the unit only stuns bugs.
- Customers give it 4.3 stars overall.
- Coverage area for 20W and 40W unit is the same, which makes both seem questionable.
- Cord is very short, only 30 inches.
- Users have mixed results to say the least.
Bug Zapper Comparison Chart
Stinger Cordless Bug Zapper
Aspectek Indoor Insect Killer
Westinghouse Bug Whacker
Flowtron Advanced Zapper
Price: $60 for 4
Portable w/ Rechargable Batter
120V Power Supply w/30in Cord
Solar Powered NiMH Battery
120V w/ 67in Cord
Outdoor, Can Be Used Indoor
Extra bulbs 2 for $10
Extra bulbs $15-$20
Replacement bulb BF150: $20
BF-130 Bulb $35-$50
A Bug Killer in Disguise: Westinghouse Solar-Powered Bug Whacker Stake Lights
Pro: Dual-purpose lights use free solar power.
Con: Users must manually switch between UV and LED lighting.
Coverage: 400 square feet per light.
The folks at Westinghouse really outdid themselves when they thought of these clever dual-purpose bug zappers that look and work like traditional path lights. When the sun goes down, flick the switch, and let the killing begin. Each lamp has the perfect blend of form and function. Plus, they come in a convenient four-pack to quadruple your bug-zapping potential. Unlike other cordless zappers, you don't have to bring these babies inside to charge. They use the sun's rays to power a nickel–metal hydride battery designed especially for high-drain applications. If bugs aren't a problem, use the amber LEDs to illuminate your patio, walkway or garden. When the bugs come out, switch on the UV lamp. The lamps work in most weather, and if things get really bad, you can always use the lamps inside as well.
- Lights only get a 2.7 rating from past customers, although there aren't many reviews.
- Two users said lights were DOA.
- One user said they were effective.
- Make sure you can return these lights if it doesn't work out.
The Best of the Best: Flowtron FC-8800 Diplomat
Pro: The super-powerful grid will kill every bug in Town.
Con: This unit is NOT Cheap.
Coverage: 2 acres. That's hard to beat!
The Flowtron FC-8800 Diplomat is the Cadillac of bug zappers. You can probably tell that by the name. If you brag about your mosquito problem, if you're plagued by giant gallinippers, if you live in a swamp, if you need transfusions from all the bites, this is the best bug zapper for you. With a 2-acre coverage area, you'll kill all the bugs in your neighborhood. Who cares if its overkill? When it comes to mosquitoes, you can't kill too many. The 120-watt UV lamp will silently seduce any mosquitoes in the area, but wait. There's more! The lamp's killing grid is charged with 5,600 volts, so it's sure to kill the biggest, nastiest, smartest granddaddy mosquito in town. If you aren't sold already, this lamp is ideal for indoor or outdoor applications, dumpsters, trash receptacles and barns. We didn't invent those selling points! It would probably work in a landfill in the Everglades, and it has an extra-long cord.
- This unit gets a solid 4.2 rating from customers on Amazon.com.
- Many customers report that the unit has a weak transformer or ballast, which causes the unit to blow after several weeks of constant zapping.
- Replacement bulbs cost $35-$40.
- Units comes with a 1-year warranty.
- Bulbs have a life expectancy of six months when operated 24/7, which can increase ownership costs significantly.
Review: Flowtron Bug Destroyer
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