Do bug zappers really work on mosquitoes? Well, generally, bug zappers attract insects using an ultraviolet light. There is a mesh cage that surrounds the light fixture that is energized with a low voltage current.
What happens is that insects are attracted to the UV light that makes them attempt to pass through the electrified mesh. Once inside they are subsequently electrocuted. You will find that most bug zappers are designed to have a collection tray that accumulates all the dead insects.
So now you are thinking, since mosquitoes are a kind of insect, there is a big chance that bug zappers would work on them. Well, before you make that conclusion let’s discuss first what is it really that mosquitoes are attracted to, and that is blood.
Actually, it is not the entire mosquito family that is drawn to suck human blood. Most of the time it is the female mosquitoes doing that. They need the protein from blood in developing eggs, which they get from mammalian blood in most cases. Others are into avian blood, reptile, or amphibian blood, or plant nectars instead.
Now, how do they locate a source of blood? Whether it is blood coming from humans, equine, canine, or avian there is only one thing that mosquitoes use as a tracker that all of these living blood sources emit. If you guessed carbon dioxide then you are right!
Most biting insects can actually hone in on the scent of carbon dioxide in the air and they can detect the said gas from as far as 35 meters away from the source. Clearly, carbon dioxide is known to be the most powerful attractant to make mosquitoes bite you. But there are also other scent clues that mosquitoes use to find people to bite such as sweat, perfume, and even body odor.
Okay, so what does all this information have to do with how effective bug zappers are to mosquitoes? Actually, everything! Come to think of it bug zappers use ultraviolet light to attract insects. What are mosquitoes, specifically the female ones, attracted to? Blood. And they follow the trail of carbon dioxide to find their blood meals.
Occasionally there might be mosquitoes that will be drawn to the pretty light of bug zappers and will end up electrocuted. But those mosquitoes might not even be the female ones that are dangerous to humans and make them suffer itchy bites.
Hence, you may conclude that bug zappers do not work on mosquitoes, specifically biting mosquitoes. Or maybe they do but not as effectively as you think. Nevertheless, apart from this, there is a more thorough explanation as to why.
The University of Guelph conducted research in 1977 wherein they collected dead insects from bug zappers in numerous household backyards. They found that only about 4.1 percent of the dead insects were comprised of female biting mosquitoes. The rest, which was a full 95.9 percent, were other non-biting insects.
Then, upon studying the yards with bug zappers, they discovered that there was a higher number of female mosquitoes flying around than those yards with no bug zappers.
Another research from Notre Dame in 1982 showed similar results. They chose to experiment in South Bend, Indiana where mosquito population was from moderate to high. Carbon dioxide is considered the most powerful chemical to attract mosquitoes. They found out that in an average night a single bug zapper was able to kill 3,212 insects.
However, only 3.3 percent were female mosquitoes. Thus, the remaining 97 percent of the dead insects were ‘innocent’ insects. Moreover, mosquitoes were more attracted to people living with bug zappers in their backyards.
Perhaps the UV light seemed to draw more mosquitoes to those backyards and from there, they would follow the carbon dioxide trail of their human victims. In addition, the research showed that even if the bug zapper was kept on for 11 days, it still failed to lessen the number of biting mosquitoes.