Considering that several mosquito species in the United States are capable of transmitting diseases to humans, people need as much help as they can get when it comes to keeping the airborne pests out of their yards. This is why many people purchase what are commonly referred to as “bug zappers” for their yards. A bug zapper is a commercially available product that contains ultraviolet light bulbs within a sort of cage that attracts and electrocutes flying insect pests, namely mosquitoes. Many people who buy these products learn for themselves that they are largely ineffective at killing biting mosquitoes, but some consumers are convinced that bug zappers work since the sound of bugs being electrocuted can often be heard in backyards where bug zappers are located. However, research has shown that biting female mosquitoes rarely make contact with these zappers.
Female mosquitoes survive by collecting blood meals from humans and other animals, so they have little reason to gravitate toward ultraviolet lights. Instead, female mosquitoes locate blood meals by sniffing out the carbon dioxide emitted by animals, including humans. A female mosquito can sense carbon dioxide being emitted by a human that is located as far as 35 meters away. When mosquitoes sense carbon dioxide being emitted from a certain location, they will fly toward the location in a zig-zag manner in order to make contact with a host. Carbon dioxide is the strongest mosquito attractant, but the insects can also locate humans by sniffing out perfume, sweat and even body odor. In rare cases, a female mosquito will become curious about an ultraviolet light, but most of the time the insect pests focus on carbon dioxide attractants only. One study found that only 4.1 percent of insect pests found in bug zappers were biting female mosquitoes, while most were non-biting midges. In fact, the study further showed biting female mosquitoes are most abundant in yards containing bug zappers. Another study found that of 3,212 insects collected in one bug zapper trey, only 3.3 percent turned out to be biting female mosquitoes. So if you want to keep mosquitoes out of your yard, and the rest of your neighborhood, save your money and avoid purchasing a bug zapper.
Have you ever owned a bug zapper? If so, did you find the product effective?