Many of us look forward to a summer cookout in the backyard or on the patio. Unfortunately, those plans can be interrupted by swarms of uninvited guests – mosquitoes. We might set out a few smoky smudge pots or chemical bug foggers to chase them away, but the effects of these devices are often short-lived, not to mention a little offputting to the human guests. Sometimes unconditional surrender seems like the only solutionuntil you try an electric mosquito killer.
An electric mosquito killer doesn’t involve hazardous chemicals, smoky torches, or bug repellents. A mosquito killer attracts and dispatches thousands of these unwanted biting pests over the course of an evening, providing a safe zone for adults, children, and pets. All you have to do is choose which device is best for your needs.
BestReviews can help. We have carefully examined dozens of popular mosquito killers and compiled the following shopping guide full of product information to help you with your purchase.
Mosquito killers are designed to attract mosquitoes, not repel them. Combining a mosquito killer with insect repellents such as foggers or smudge pots would be counterproductive.
How does a mosquito killer work?
Mosquitoes rarely do anything in a small way. They hatch by the hundreds, they live by the hundreds, and (with any luck) they will be eradicated by the hundreds. An electric mosquito killer takes advantage of this instinctive swarm mentality by providing an irresistible attractant: a light source.
Mosquitoes and other swarming insects depend on light cues for navigation and hunting. At the core of an electric mosquito killer is a special ultraviolet (UV) fluorescent light bulb or a set of light-emitting diodes (LED). When a flying insect senses the light, it flies closer to it, along with the rest of the swarm. Standing between the mosquitoes and the light is a charged grid packing thousands of volts of electricity. When the insect makes contact with the grid, the result is an instantaneous and lethal shock.
This pest extermination process will be repeated as long as the grid remains energized or a natural light source such as the sun distracts the remaining members of the swarm. Electric mosquito killers don’t require the use of harsh insecticides, foggers, or smoke generators. Many satisfied owners consider these devices to be a humane method for dispatching thousands of flying pests without endangering humans, animals, or the environment.
We consider each mosquito killer’s estimated killing range, which is typically measured in acres, square feet, or meters.
When researching the best mosquito killers, we include electric mosquito killers that can quickly eradicate the bugs in just a few snaps.
When it comes to indoor mosquito killers, we often prefer models with chemical attractants and generous surface areas.
Since indoor mosquito killers are more portable than outdoor mosquito killers, we look for models with a limited number of vents in the casing. This is an excellent safety feature because it offers a protective outer shell.
We evaluate the screen of each mosquito killer to determine how sturdy it is. Screens should allow flying insects to easily pass through but shouldn’t allow fingers, hands, or other objects to enter.
When looking at outdoor mosquito killers, we research the total voltage output, the killing grid’s square footage, and the UV light output. High-end models have 2,800 volts of killing power.
Some outdoor mosquito killers can be mounted or hung. Many of the best mosquito killers have several mounting options, from chain suspension to semi-permanent wall mount.
We consider how easy each device is to clean. Some models require extra patience because you must clean between each grid. Others come with a removable tray you can easily remove and wash.
We appreciate mosquito killers that are sold in multipacks. If you have a large house or backyard area, this could be ideal.
We look for mosquito killers that are weather resistant and work in the rain. This type of appliance can be mounted outside year-round.
Types of mosquito killers
While there are other time-honored methods for avoiding bites and dispatching our unwanted mosquito brethren, from chemical repellents to mad flailings with a fly swatter, the use of an electric killing grid seems to be growing in popularity. There is the satisfaction factor as these unwanted, disease-carrying pests are dispatched with a resounding and final snap. You won’t get that from citronella torches. Here are four popular electric mosquito killers currently on the market:
Freestanding outdoor “bug zappers”
This is the model many of us remember from hot summer nights in our childhoods, and it is still in the wholesale mosquito/flying insect exterminating business. These units hang above the ground and contain UV bulbs and powerful electric killing grids that attract and dispatch all types of flying pests.
Handheld electronic mosquito “rackets”
Unlike the freestanding and relatively passive bug zappers, these battery-powered mosquito swatters take the fight to the insects. Users activate an electrified killing grid as they swat at the local flying insect population. Contact with the netting or contact with the grid both result in defeat for mosquitoes. This method can’t compete with traditional bug zappers in terms of volume, but many users find it satisfying and engaging.
Portable mosquito killers
Because mosquitoes can transmit a number of blood-borne ailments, it’s very important to protect the most vulnerable, especially children and the elderly. A portable mosquito killer still uses UV or LED lights and the charged grid of a full-size bug zapper, but it’s designed for use in one room, such as a kitchen or child’s bedroom. This is an inexpensive and safer alternative to standard-size mosquito killers, and the operation is usually much quieter.
Mosquito-killing “light bulbs”
A relatively new form of mosquito and flying insect zapper is designed to fit in a standard light socket. The user selects an appropriate overhead or lamp socket, and the “lightbulb” does the rest. A UV light or broad-spectrum light attracts mosquitoes to the unit, and a small charged grid dispatches them. This is a good option for bedrooms, enclosed porches/patios, or kitchens.
Mosquito killer features to consider
One common selling point for larger outdoor mosquito killers is the unit’s estimated killing range. This can be measured in acres, square feet, meters, or not measured at all. A larger estimated range is almost always a plus if your main goal is the wholesale elimination of flying insects in a large outdoor space. We definitely recommend shopping for a larger outdoor model that measures its effectiveness in acres or square yards, not just square feet. Sometimes a model’s effective range can be improved through the use of different lighting or the addition of chemical attractants.
For smaller backyards and indoor/outdoor spaces, the overall effective range is not as much of a consideration. A room-size personal model, for example, may not have a large effective range, but it doesn’t need one.
No one wants to watch flying pests walk away unharmed from an underperforming zapper. The better mosquito killers will definitely make a point of promoting such elements as total voltage, the killing grid’s square footage, and UV light output. The high end of the industry standard is 2,800 volts of killing power. Mosquitoes will definitely check in but not check out.
For smaller indoor and personal-size models, the total voltage rating isn’t quite as important. There is still a personal safety factor to consider, and having a high-voltage device in a child’s bedroom is not always advisable. If sheer “shock and awe” with a high-voltage killing grid isn’t a priority, we recommend shopping for models with chemical attractants or a generous surface area.
One common concern among many owners of mosquito killers is possible contact with the highly charged killing grid. A curious child might poke a finger through the unit’s protective casing, or an adult could accidentally walk into the path of a suspended zapper. While the resulting electric shock may not be lethal, it can still cause second or third degree burns and be extremely painful. Consumer safety is a major issue with manufacturers, since they can’t render this sort of product completely harmless to non-insects.
Screen: One important safety feature to look for is a protective screen positioned in front of the energized grid. By design, this screen must allow flying insects to pass through to the lethal inner sanctum. However, it should also be sturdy enough to deflect any incidental contact, including fingers, hands, and inanimate objects.
Position: Another safety feature involves installation. The larger outdoor-rated mosquito killers need to be mounted securely at an appropriate height for maximum effectiveness. The better models offer several different mounting options, from chain suspension to a semipermanent wall mount. The power supply should also be completely protected from rain, snow, or high winds.(Video) Top 7 Best Ultrasonic Pest Repeller 2020
- Vents: Indoor or portable mosquito killers often have an even more protective outer shell than outdoor versions. Insects can only enter the unit through a limited number of vents in the casing. This is an especially useful safety feature if the intended location is a child’s bedroom or family kitchen. The total amount of voltage might be much lower than an outdoor model, but it should still be effective.
Did you know?
While an individual mosquito’s life span is very short, a mosquito colony can regain its numbers in less than 24 hours during warm weather.
Mosquito killer prices
Mosquito killers don’t have to be expensive to be effective, but consumers should shop according to their specific extermination needs. Sometimes a simple bug-zapping light bulb will do the trick, while other times a powerful freestanding outdoor model is necessary to make a dent in the pest population. You can expect to pay from less than $25 to more than $75, depending on the type and size.
Inexpensive: For less than $25, the options include smaller indoor units or the very affordable “light bulb” models. The economic advantage of these portable units is that owners can place several of them in various locations for the same overall price as one more expensive freestanding unit. One disadvantage is that each unit might not be quite as powerful as a larger option.
Mid-range: Most freestanding indoor-rated mosquito killers with good performance ratings cost between $25 and $75. This is also the range where consumers will find the most popular outdoor mosquito killers and bug zappers. Most will offer the maximum 2,800 volts of killing power, along with larger light sources with an extended attraction range.
Expensive: Some homeowners with large yards or commercial landowners will want to invest in high-end mosquito killers for maximum benefit. Models that cost more than $75 are almost always rated for outdoor use only, and quite often the effective range is measured in acres, not square feet. Many of these advanced units also have additional features, such as powerful fans, chemical attractants, additional light sources, and mounting stands.
Never place a mosquito killer near food prep or service areas. While it might be tempting to hang a bug zapper over a backyard picnic table, the dispatched insect carcasses can fall through the bottom of the unit and contaminate anything that lies beneath it.
Consider adding a chemical attractant. Some mosquito killers/bug zappers offer a special container for chemicals that attract mosquitoes. This can boost the effectiveness of the unit significantly. Chemical attractants can also be purchased separately and placed near the mosquito killer.
Do not use insect repellents and attractants in the same area at the same time. Locating citronella torches or smoky smudge pots close to an attractant bug killer is counterproductive. Bug foggers, spray repellents, and other methods should drive mosquito swarms toward a waiting electric mosquito killer.
Keep an electric mosquito killer out of reach of children and pets. Most bug zappers are designed to be suspended at an insect’s preferred flying level, at least five to six feet above the ground. This height not only maximizes the unit’s effectiveness but also reduces the chances of accidental contact with the grid.
- Never use an indoor-rated mosquito killer for outdoor purposes. There are many technical and safety-related reasons for this. The grid and other electric components aren’t properly shielded from the weather, for instance. While an outdoor unit could possibly work as an indoor mosquito killer in a garage or covered patio, the opposite is definitely not recommended.
Mosquitoes can only detect light at certain wavelengths, so replacing a mosquito killer’s bulb with a standard fluorescent bulb can limit its effectiveness.
Q. I have three very curious children in my home. How safe are these electronic mosquito killers around small children and pets?
A. Safety is a major consideration in the bug zapper industry. Although such a device can’t be rendered completely harmless and still perform effectively, there are several safeguards in place to prevent accidental contact with the charged grid. A protective metal screen prevents larger fingers and paws from reaching the inner grid. Many models use high voltage, not high amperage, to dispatch insects. This reduces the chances of a dangerous shock. Finally, the unit should be mounted high enough above the ground to attract flying insects, which should also put it out of reach of younger children and pets.
Q. I want to have a birthday party in my backyard, but there are massive mosquito swarms this year. Where should I place my new mosquito killer for maximum effectiveness?
A. An electric mosquito killer is designed to attract flying insects, not repel them. Look for a location where a bug zapper can be securely mounted at least five to six feet above the ground. There should be a standard 110V outlet nearby, or at least access to a grounded extension cord. Unlike insect repellents, such as bug foggers, citronella-infused torches, or smudge pots, an attractant insect killer should be positioned as far away as possible from people and food service areas.
Q. Are electric mosquito killers really as effective as they claim to be? Aren’t they fighting a losing battle against insect swarms?
A. There are few if any defenses against flying or crawling pests that can claim to be 100% effective all the time. Insects can repopulate in a matter of hours, and their sheer numbers can overwhelm any type of insect-control method. However, electric mosquito killers do work effectively without the use of hazardous chemicals, smoke, or fog. They’re especially effective for indoor use, where they can attract and dispatch a more manageable number of flying insects at night.
What is the safest mosquito killer? ›
- Mosquito dunks are absolutely the safest way to kill mosquitoes without endangering your pets. ...
- Bug zappers are a great way to kill mosquitoes. ...
- Citronella torches are also a pet-friendly way to kill mosquitoes.
- Best Overall. HEMIUA Bug Zapper for Outdoor and Indoor. ...
- Best Bang for the Buck. SPECTRUM BRANDS 61067 HG-61067 Rts Bug Free Spray. ...
- Best Wall-Mounted. DynaTrap DT1100 Insect Trap. ...
- Best Portable. DynaTrap DT1775 Insct Trap AtraktaGlo Light. ...
- Best Eco-Friendly. ...
- Best Fogger. ...
- Best Insecticide.
Which repellents work best to stop mosquitoes from biting? Products containing DEET have been shown both safe and effective. DEET is shorthand for the chemical N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, the active ingredient in many insect repellents.