It’s summer and you want to spend some time in your yard. But there’s a problem – mosquitoes!
They fly around your head, land on you, drink some blood, and leave behind an itchy welt. Annoying and, because of the diseases they spread, they can be dangerous.
This has always been the case in hotter regions, with malaria. Now with mosquitoes spreading diseases such as West Nile Virus, dengue, chikungunya, and zika in the US, the danger is suddenly closer to home.
How can you protect yourself? You’ve heard about propane mosquito traps and wonder if they could be the solution. Let’s find out!
How Do Propane-Powered Mosquito Traps Work?
Propane mosquito traps work by imitating the signals humans (and other animals) emit to attract the female mosquitoes away from you and into a trap. Mosquitoes are attracted to us humans by the carbon dioxide we exhale, our body heat, and our body odors.
A propane trap converts the propane into carbon dioxide, which is blown out of the trap with a fan. An attractant octenol or lurex 3 is mixed with the co2 to make an appealing mixture for mosquitoes, no-see-ums, and black flies.
Additional features on some traps are lights that are known to attract certain species of mosquitoes or lights that give the impression of movement. Heat, moisture, and color are other ingredients used to attract mosquitoes.
When the mosquitoes are in the trap’s immediate vicinity, they are vacuumed up and into a net or on to a sticky surface. The trapped mosquitoes become dehydrated and die within 24 hours.
The traps require power to operate the fans and lights, so you will need an electricity supply. However, cordless models that work with rechargeable batteries are an alternative.
The video below shows how the propane burning Mosquito Magnet works.
Where Should You Place Mosquito Traps?
Mosquitoes avoid direct sunlight, and also they don’t like the wind. A good placement could be a shady, sheltered portion of your garden, ideally, between a breeding area and the zone you will use for your activities.
A couple of additional points to consider for the placement of your mosquito killer. It should be placed upwind from the breeding area, and there shouldn’t be anything to impede the flow of carbon dioxide, such as long grass.
You may try it in different places to see where the trap has the most success. You can also experiment with different attractants to determine what your local mosquitoes prefer.
Keep your trap a least 30 – 40 feet away from where people congregate. If it’s too close to people, the mosquitoes might fly past your trap and attack any people they find in the vicinity.
When Should You Operate the Trap?
Ideally, your propane trap should be ready for the start of the mosquito season, when temperatures are around 50°f for several days in succession. This will probably be sometime between February and May, depending on your location.
When the temperatures start to rise, mosquito eggs laid in the autumn will start to hatch and the females that have been overwintering in a shelter will become active
It’s recommended to run the traps 24 hours a day, 7 days of the week, when you first have it, to impact the mosquito population. You should start catching mosquitoes immediately but it may take a while to see a difference in mosquito numbers. Several weeks is common to interrupt the breeding cycle.
Over time, as the mosquito population decreases, you may decide to run the trap for less time when the mosquitoes are most active. For example, if you have day biters, you may run it during the day, or if you have night biters, you can run the trap from early evening to 11 pm. Many mosquito traps are programable to enable this.
Are Propane Traps Safe For Pets and Humans?
Yes, the traps can be considered safe as there are no insecticides. They use the co2 to attract the pests, and then the insects die either in a net or stuck to some sticky paper.
However, they do burn propane. This is a clean-burning fossil fuel, so it won’t damage your local environment. But it is a flammable gas, so it could present a danger if knocked over or there is a leak.
For traps that work with sticky paper on the outside of the catcher, they may catch a few non-biting insects, such as moths, which are not your target.
For devices that work with electricity, a cable in the garden could present a danger of tripping or cutting with a lawnmower. Therefore, if operating in the same place for the mosquito season, it may be worth installing the cable underground or at least make sure it’s well-marked.
Using Your Trap
You will get the best results if you know what species of mosquitoes are in your area. Are they day biters or dawn and dusk biters? What sort of lures do they prefer? Are they attracted to certain lights? All these facts can vary with different mosquitoes and can greatly affect your catch rate.
There is some evidence that propane traps are more successful at catching some species than others. This might depend on the concentrations of co2 and the lures. If you don’t know the species of mosquitoes in your locality, you can experiment with different lures to see what works best.
Once the trap is set up you can leave it running until there is no more fuel. Just keep it clean and empty the mosquito catch when necessary.
Mosquito Trap Maintenance
Your propane mosquito killer is not a set and forget system. The trap will require regular maintenance during the mosquito season.
Replacement of the propane cylinder and attractant will be the main job. With some models, this will need to be done every 21 days for others every 4 – 5 weeks.
Traps will need to be emptied. The nets or containers have to emptied, cleaned or replaced. If the trap uses sticky paper this too will have to be replaced.
Vents will have to be cleaned to ensure a free air-flow. Clogged up air vents will reduce the aspiration and hence the number of mosquitoes you catch.
Pros and Cons of Propane Mosquito Killers
- Will catch mosquitoes
- Safe around people and pets
- No insecticides
- Propane tank not included
- Expensive to purchase
- Running costs can add up
- Some models can be difficult to move
- Maintenance will take up some of your time
What To Look For When Buying a Propane Mosquito Trap?
Although a propane burning mosquito killer will give you some protection it won’t eradicate all mosquitoes from your property.
A well-known trap like the Mosquito Magnet or the Blue Rhino SkeeterVac can cost several hundred dollars to purchase. The running costs should also be taken into consideration. The propane trap will probably be running for 24 hours a day. You will need to replace the propane, lures, nets, and other accessories and use some electricity. This means running costs will probably be $25 – $30 per month.
Some of these propane catchers are programable to run when the mosquitoes are most active; this can limit running costs. The problem is that these traps are more expensive.
Battery operated traps are another alternative, they are more portable, which is convenient, but they are also more expensive.
Consider the area you want to protect. Some traps claim to protect one acre or one and a half acres. The American Mosquito Control Association considers that these claims are often overstated and are best-case scenarios.
Make sure you have enough space to set up the trap a sufficient distance from where people gather. If it’s too close to your deck or other areas where people get together, you may find the skeeters by-pass your trap and end up attacking you and your family.
Know what mosquitoes are active in your area. Certain traps may be better for different species of mosquitoes. A couple of points to consider – a color contrast may help attract certain mosquitoes, catchers with UV lights won’t attract Aedes mosquitoes but may attract other beneficial flying insects that can block the trap.
Don’t forget the maintenance (mentioned above) that will take up some of your time each month in the mosquito season. If you don’t want to do this extra work to reduce mosquito numbers, then perhaps a propane mosquito catcher isn’t for you.
Lastly, consult reviews from people that have used the traps to check efficacity and reliability. Look for scientific proof that shows the traps catch mosquitoes in significant numbers.
What Other Types of Mosquito Traps Are There?
There are several types of mosquito traps, indeed trap development dates back to the early 1900s. The first mosquito traps used light and suction provided by a fan to pull the mosquitoes in to a container.
Other co2 mosquito catchers work in a similar way to the propane traps. They emit co2 but directly from a carbon dioxide bottle. These traps don’t have to burn propane.
They use lures and have a fan that creates an airflow that expulses the lure and sucks in the mosquitoes, similar to the propane killers. These traps need an electricity supply.
The maintenance is similar to a propane burning trap. The best-known manufacturer of co2 traps is Mega Catch.
Biogents have developed a trap specifically to control the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, the mosquitoes that transmit Zika, dengue, and chikungunya.
This mosquito killer doesn’t use co2 but a scent that replicates the human odor, a fan system as in the traps mentioned above, and color contrast. The mosquitoes are attracted into the trap and die in a net from dehydration.
- The catch bag needs to be emptied regularly to ensure good airflow and checked for damage.
- Lures are renewed every eight weeks.
- Co2 gas cylinder change when required.
- The white gauze covering must be white. It might need washing or replacing. The black and white contrast helps to draw the mosquitoes into the funnel.
Autocidal Gravid Ovitaptrap
Another type of trap is the Autocidal Gravid Ovitaptrap (AGO). This is a low-cost trap for Aedes aegypti species’ control, designed to catch the females during the breeding cycle.
Mosquitoes are attracted to the bucket-like trap due to its black color and the fact that it mimics mosquito breeding sites. It attracts females searching to lay their eggs.
Inside the trap, water has hay and leaves added to it; this is the attractant mimicking stagnant water. The mosquito enters the trap and tries to get to the water. There is a fine grid that prevents the mosquito from laying her eggs. She is captured on an adhesive card.
One variant of this trap is the Gravid Aedes Trap. It works in the same way but doesn’t require a fan – almost a completely natural mosquito trap.
Another variant of this trap uses hydrogel to receive the eggs. This means they won’t hatch.
UV light and CO2 traps
Traps that use UV light, co2, and a fan have been shown to be moderately successful. Simple and economical to use, they don’t need any attractant or co2 cylinders. The carbon dioxide is produced when the ultraviolet light reacts with a Ti02 titanium dioxide-coated surface. According to the manufacturer, Dynatrap, “a photocatalytic reaction takes place that produces carbon dioxide.”
The maintenance for these traps involves cleaning them out regularly and changing the bulbs when they burn out.
Oscillating multi-frequency UV LEDs
Another trap that uses lights to attract mosquitoes. The lights give the appearance of movement in the trap. The trap also produces heat and can work with or without octenol lures. When the mosquitoes are close, a fan draws them into a catch bag.
Maintenace involves emptying and cleaning the catch bag and .
There are also traps or bug zappers that use UV lights and perhaps an attractant. Some people report catching many mosquitoes with these, but they also catch many non-biting beneficial insects.
Homemade Mosquito Trap
If you want to save some money you can try a homemade mosquito trap. You might have some success and decide not to buy an expensive co2 mosquito trap.
Here’s an idea for a simple DIY trap, using a plastic bottle. You cut the neck, and the funnel and place it so that the nozzle is facing downwards towards the bottom of the bottle. Tape the two bottle pieces together so there are no spaces. Paint in black or stick some black paper to the lower section of the bottle.
Now you add the attractant. You will need 3 teaspoons of yeast, a quarter of a cup of brown sugar, and a cup of water.
Heat the water and add the brown sugar stirring until it dissolves. When the solution is about 120 to 130 degrees add the yeast and stir.
Now pour the solution into the bottle and place the trap in your garden. You will have to replace the solution regularly for best results.
If you like the idea of making your own mosquito catcher you can find different models/recipes online.
Conclusion – Will a Propane Trap Reduce the Mosquito Population?
A propane trap will trap and kill mosquitoes. However, whether you notice a difference will depend on a few factors.
- the size of the adult population
- the size of the breeding grounds
- the species of mosquito
- climatic conditions
Treat results published on manufacturers’ websites with caution. What has worked for others may not work for you, or on the other hand, you may have greater success.
Verify user reviews because several of the propane traps don’t seem to be very reliable, and they don’t last long, which isn’t very good for relatively expensive equipment.
Mosquito traps should be treated as one weapon in your fight against mosquitoes. They will not eliminate all mosquitoes in your yard. You may still need to wear repellent on bare skin and loose-fitting, light-colored, long sleeve shirts and trousers to keep you safe.
Most importantly, you should continue to remove any standing water around your garden to prevent the mozzies from breeding.