Does a Bulb Light Zapper Really Work for Mosquitoes?

Ahhh Summer! When you live someplace like Cedar Rapids, IA, where the snow piles high during the winter (at which time you daydream about any season but winter), you want to take complete advantage of the months when you can extend your living space beyond your exterior walls.

If you have problems with mosquitoes, that can prove very difficult. I have found myself outside on beautiful summer evenings, citronella plume wafting about (not that I like the smell), determined to take in the out-of-doors, but ultimately exclaiming “Oh Forget It!”. At which point I would gather up my belongings, any visitors, and snacks (or at all event), and head back inside. At some point, if you can’t get rid of the insects that are trying to make dinner out of you, a nice deck party just becomes an endurance of misery, and clearly not worth it.

To avoid wasting money and more summertime fun, I researched products to help one get rid of their backyard mosquitoes. I found out a few things I would like to pass along.

I’m sure you know there are about a bazillion different kinds of mosquitoes out there, and that they are able to spread diseases such as West Nile Virus, EEE, Malaria, in addition laying on some pretty nasty bites and generally bothersome the doodie out of us.

But for those of us in the United States, it kind of breaks down to there being the generic mosquito and the Asian tiger mosquito. (I’ll tell you more about that differentiation in just a little bit).

Mosquitoes are attracted to us humans because of the release of carbon dioxide from our breath, the lactic acid in our sweat, and the heat we put off. They are not attracted to bug lights, white or black, so bug zappers alone will only put a hit on those mosquitoes that, by misfortune, have taken that path.

But when using the lure Octenol (a chemical contained in human breath and sweat that attracts sharp insects such as most mosquito species) in combination with your bulb light zapper, you can target, conquer and reclaim your real estate.

Why should you care what kind of mosquito is bugging you? The Asian tiger mosquito is best attracted to a lure called Lurex, which is a specially formulated attractant made of natural compounds that simulate human sweat. Lurex was designed specifically to target Asian tiger mosquitoes. In studies conducted, Lurex out-performed Octenol in the eradication of nearly 3 times the amount of Asian tiger mosquitoes.

In my research of mosquitoes and the quest to get the best-for-the-money bulb light zapper, I found that most of the bug zappers only come with the Octenol lure. I did see one zapper (out of the two most popular brands that I investigated) that came with a lure called 2 in 1 Powerbait from Stinger. This has both Octenol and Lactic Acid. 2 in 1 would typically sound great to me (a double-whammie), but I couldn’t find evidence that it is effective. If it were, I would expect to see it more heavily marketed.

I compared several models of the two most popular brands of bug zappers, Stinger and Flowtron. I looked at coverage, wattage, bulb kind, recurrent costs (bulbs and lure), any special features, warranty, initial cost.

Based on the above variables, and also weighted heavily by numerous consumer reviews, I feel that Flowtron offers the most reliable and longest lasting bulb light zapper of the two.

Of the Flowtron models, I favor the BK-80D, as much for the strength to best disintegrate the insects upon contact with the strength grid, as the 1.5 acres that it covers. There are plenty of reviews that indicate clogging can be a problem with brands, but there were some convincing comments suggesting the higher wattage models experienced less of a problem with this.

Both brands recommend a fresh octinol lure every month, and substitute of the UV bulb yearly. Both brands have short cords and will, in most circumstances, require an appropriate extension cord. Stinger does have a form that is rechargeable and runs for 3.5 hrs off of a 3 hour recharge.

If your vicinity is plagued by the Asian tiger mosquito, (chiefly the southern states in the U.S.) you may want to check into traps that offer lurex lures, like Mosquito Magnet and Skeeter Vac. These are considerably more expensive than a bulb light zapper, but may make the difference of whether you can enjoy your home from the outside in addition as the inside.

I attempted to find a lurex lure offered in the same sort of packaging as the octenol, thinking it might be worth trying with a bug zapper. I fell short on that quest – only finding cartridges specific to their mosquito traps. (Do remember… there is the 2 in 1 Powerbait mentioned above).

I hope my review might save you some time that could be better spent outside!

Enjoy your summer and thanks for reading.

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