For some, it's the satisfying sound of one less bloodsucker...or so it seems.
But do bug zappers electrocute enough mosquitoes to make a difference?
To investigate this, the Department of Entomology and Applied Ecology at the University of Delaware spent 10 weeks analyzing bug zappers.
It turns out - no surprise - bug zappers are excellent at killing insects. This particular study collected more than 13,000 insects electrocuted by bug zappers!
However, light-only bug zappers are useless against mosquitoes. According to the study, less than 0.25% of zapped insects were mosquitoes. Unfortunately, a vast majority of insects killed by bug zappers in this study were beneficial to local ecosystems.
Why Aren't Mosquitoes Attracted to Bug Zappers?
The mosquitoes that bite people use their antennae to "smell" carbon dioxide and skin odors. They do not care about zapper lights.
Fun fact: Only the female mosquito bite because they use your blood to create her eggs.
When you exhale, you emit carbon dioxide, which a female mosquito can detect from far away. As she flies closer, she can smell your skin odor to confirm you are a source of blood. (source: United States Health and Human Services' National Institute of Health)
Once you understand how mosquitoes find us, you'll realize bug zappers don't provide the best protection against mosquitoes.
The best way to stop mosquitoes from biting is to wear insect repellent like you would sun screen.
For a more long-term protection from mosquitoes, hit them at the source. The source of stagnant water that is!
After the female mosquito bites you and takes a blood meal, she will lay her eggs using stagnant water sources, such as plant saucers, bromeliads, and old tires. Tip 'n toss these sources weekly to stop mosquitoes from growing.
A majority of insects killed by bug zappers may be beneficial to local ecosystems.