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Debbie Hadley

The Truth About Bug Zappers

By May 25, 2009

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Bug zappers are one of the most popular bug control devices ever. Walk around any suburban neighborhood in the evening, and you'll hear the pop and sizzle of insects being electrocuted. It must be working, right?

Less than 1% of the insects killed by bug zappers are biting insects.
Less than 1% of the insects killed by bug zappers are biting insects.
Photo: Flickr user fly again

Sure, the bug zapper is killing insects by the dozens. The problem is, it's not killing the right bugs. Less than 1% of dead bugs lying in the bottom of bug zappers are biting insects, like mosquitoes. Most of the insects fried in these devices are doing us no harm whatsoever, and may even be beneficial. Night-flying moths are attracted to the light of the bug zapper because they navigate by the light of the moon. Beetles, too, tend to fly kamikaze missions.

Research shows that bug zappers make no measurable difference in mosquito populations in your backyard. Save your money for mosquito controls that work.

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May 27, 2009 at 9:34 am
(1) prairie gardener says:

I recently read that spraying an area with Listerine! would keep mosquitoes away for a couple of days. I haven’t tried it yet, but if it works, it’s cheaper than those CO2 generators and less toxic than any bug spray. My husband is making fun of it already, but I’m the one that gets bitten.

May 27, 2009 at 1:10 pm
(2) christyku says:

Thanks for explaining that BUG ZAPPERS DO NO GOOD and actually HURT THE ENVIRONMENT! The best way to use one is to give it to a neighbor you dislike, so it will attract insects to them and contaminate their yard instead of yours! hahaha

Bug zappers only kill exponentially more beneficial insects and attract many more bugs to hang out in your yard than would be there otherwise. Bug zappers also spray fine particles of exploded bug guts over a wide range, which then contaminate your lawn furniture, grass where kids play, picnic table, family, guests, etc. These nasty bug guts include bacteria, viruses and potential allergens (insect parts) which are a health hazard.

For details, see

Please spread the word, and give a printout of these articles to anyone you know who uses a bug zapper.

August 22, 2009 at 3:39 am
(3) Fireball says:

I use a zapper inside the house to get the bugs that get in. Not much point in having one outside in a forest!

July 7, 2012 at 3:11 pm
(4) Kevin says:

Beg to differ with some of you. I watch mosquitos fly into my zapper
by the hundreds. Yes some moths get the “chair too “, this 1 % is
completely inaccurate. To prove this to a neighbor of mine I put a
white paper plate under the zapper. In the morning, it was filled with
moquitos. Take it from someone who suffers welts from their bite,
if it gets a few thousand for one that gets me, I’m Happy…..

On another note: How much did you spend to replace your last article
of wool that was destroyed by moths..? It’s worth the few extra pennies
per night to fry them all…..

July 10, 2012 at 8:05 am
(5) Bug hater says:

Thanks kevin at least someone in this room isn’t a misinformed bug lover!

July 10, 2012 at 3:01 pm
(6) Debbie says:

Research studies confirm that bug zappers are ineffective for mosquito control, and may actually increase the number of mosquitoes in your yard. Read this study summary from the University of Florida: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/07/970730060806.htm

October 8, 2012 at 2:16 pm
(7) moth destroyer says:

cant stand horn worms and grubs that eat plants. so please remember to kill those horrible moths as often and great of quantities as possible.
thank you for your help

October 8, 2012 at 2:18 pm
(8) moth destroyer says:

cant stand horn worms and grubs that eat plants. so please remember to kill those horrible moths as often and great of quantities as possible. weather you use zappers or other means, whatever is most effective for you.
thank you for your help

June 9, 2013 at 4:14 pm
(9) Skot says:

Funny that everyone says these don’t work because mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide and other bodily ‘smells’, therefore, bug zappers don’t work. Well, that’s quite a flawed scientific approach. Kevin managed to perform more of a scientific study than any of the linked articles.

I also find these articles amusing when each of them state that the zappers increase the mosquito population in the yard, but don’t explain why. Thinking that statement through would lead one to conject that if the light increases the number of mosquitoes, it attracts them, thus it IS working.

Another thing that amuses me are bleeding hearts that don’t want to see any animals or insects dead, yet have no problem eating raw (still living) vegetables. Life is life. If it’s precious for one type, it’s precious for all. Any person that believes plants are less of a life has a more warped sense of the food chain than meat eaters.

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