The 10 Best Bug Zappers
This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in April of 2015. Unfortunately, nice weather brings flies, mosquitoes, and other flying pests. If you're tired of swatting away these pesky insects, it's time to invest in a bug zapper. They use UV light to lure bugs to an electric grid and kill them. From handheld mosquito zappers to hanging bug killers, this list offers various options to prevent bites and keep the bugs away from your food. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
December 11, 2020:
One of the benefits of using bug zappers is most devices are chemical-free. Plus, you don't have to keep spraying your body with repellents.
Since the last review, ratings for the Greatico Mosquito Killer and the Gloue Lamp decreased dramatically. Also, the SereneLife Eco Friendly proved not to be as effective as described. We removed the BugAZappa Lantern and Hoont Dual Fan for similar reasons.
We exchanged the Flowtron BK-15D for the Flowtron BK40-D because it provides more coverage. For outdoor use, we selected the Hemiua Lantern and the Black and Decker Lantern. Both models cover up to an acre of land and have a metal loop for hanging on a tree or a pole. We selected the Xedus Plug-in and Liba Zapper for indoor use. They are quiet and effective, making them ideal for apartments and small spaces. For portability, we chose the Runacc 3-in-1 system. It has a long battery life and three levels of brightness and can be used as a lantern or flashlight.
December 12, 2019:
The BugAZappa Lantern joins our selection today as a simple, plug-and-play choice that’s powerful, yet safe, featuring an 800-volt grid encased in a protective ABS plastic housing. Unlike some others, it’s suitable for either indoor or outdoor use, and you can place it on a flat surface like a table or hang it from the loop at the top. This one also stands out among others for its generous lifetime warranty.
For a popular handheld racket-type model, look to the The Executioner Pro, which actually would make a great gift for any parent who frequently sits through outdoor soccer games on warm days and evenings. It runs on two C batteries and boasts a wide striking area. And if you’re into cartoons, you’ll love the packaging. For an alternative handheld model that’s a few bucks cheaper and actually comes in a two-pack, check out the Zap It! Racket. This one offers convenient USB charging and is available in mini and large sizes.
While many of these devices are equipped with covers to help protect pets and children from their zapping components, for safety’s sake, always keep them in places where kids and animals can’t get to them.
While these high-tech devices can be powerful and effective, many people still swear by their old-fashioned fly swatters and believe there’s no true substitute. This school of thought certainly can be backed up by the fact that there’s way less that can malfunction with a fly swatter, and it still works just as well when the power goes out. Many people choose to have both types of devices on hand for maximum protection from pests.
Mosquito Zapper and LED Light Bulb Available from Sharper Image, this lightbulb skillfully incorporates both standard white illumination and a blue a zapper light. With the flip of a switch, you can select only the light, only the zapper, or both at the same time. It screws into a standard light socket and provides up to 500 feet of mosquito protection. Put it into an attractive fixture, and many guests probably won’t even realize it’s a zapper. It’s great for those who entertain frequently in their backyard. Featuring a lifespan of 40,000 hours, its high voltage grid kills pests instantly. sharperimage.com
Bring The Bees To Their Knees
There are essentially two forms of bug zappers, each of which employs electricity as a means of killing insects.
It's not an easy thing to understand why bugs creep us out so much. Perhaps there's some reminder of our mortality in their comparatively short lifespans and large presence around the deceased. Maybe the association between insects and plagues that wipe out entire crops and civilizations is at the root of it.
Then again, it could just be that they're a pain in the neck to handle, given their slight stature and nimble patterns of evasion. And let's be honest here, a bunch of them can very easily kill us.
But bugs are also an integral part of our culture, providing us with the pollination resources we need to keep the species alive, as well as balancing out a tremendously complex ecosystem. For the most part, they're our friends.
Well, mosquitoes aren't our friends. Flies don't really contribute anything to the picture, either, and roaches are just jerks. So, there are a few species of insect out there that haven't exactly earned the right to live in our homes with us. That's where the bug zapper comes in.
There are essentially two forms of bug zappers, each of which employs electricity as a means of killing insects. One type is stationary, while the other is handheld.
The stationary type hags or sits in an area relatively close you your house. The idea is for it to intercept bugs that would dare to fly into your space on a hot summer's evening. These units use an insect's navigational instincts against it, luring the bugs in with light, heat, and even pheromones to a shocking and instant death.
Handheld bug zappers are essentially small tennis rackets wired with a charge running through their wickets: you see a bug, you swing, and the little guy gets zapped on contact.
Passive Pest Control
Without knowing there were electric bug zapping rackets on the market, I took on the challenge of eliminating a colony of carpenter bees from my old house with nothing but a traditional tennis racket. They were fat, hungry bees, but they didn't sting so I felt pretty safe going on the attack. They worked more like termites, chewing away at the wood around my door frame.
With the added surge of electricity in any of these bug zappers, your intrusive insects don't stand a chance.
So, I would wait for them to hover close enough to the earth that I could jump up and whack them out of the air, and, one-by-one, I destroyed them. It was a great victory, but nature of the tennis racket protracted the battle unnecessarily. Larger bugs like these carpenter bees, can often withstand a concussive shock or two in their lifetimes, returning to action mere moments later. With the added surge of electricity in any of these bug zappers, your intrusive insects don't stand a chance.
Still, deciding between handheld and stationary bug zappers will be your first step in whittling our list down to your perfect choice. The rackets provide a kind of thrill, connecting us with our hunters' past like little else besides tracking and killing a large animal. They are significantly less effective, however, and as soon as the novelty wears off, their use becomes a chore.
Among the stationary zappers on our list, the key variables to consider are range and power source. A few of the stationary bug zappers here run on batteries, whole others run power cords to outlets. If you're out camping, battery-operated zappers will serve you best, where you can easily set up a corded zapper at home.
Either way, you'll want to fit your zapper to the size of the area you want it to cover. If you have a tenth of an acre to protect, you don't need a bug zapper that can lure a mosquito from across a football field. That said, it is a good idea to cover a little more than the space you have in mind, both for peace of mind as bug numbers rise and in case you need to use it elsewhere throughout its life.
When it comes down to it, the handheld rackets are cheap enough that you should probably get one of those in addition to a stationary zapper, so you can go hunting whenever the mood strikes you, and sit peacefully all other times.
A Century Of Shocking Insects
An October 1911 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine published an schematic for a special kind of fly trap that utilized four electric lights at the corners of an electrified grid, with a fifth light glowing from within the grid. The design is remarkably akin to the bug zappers on our list, though it was purportedly too expensive to sell very well.
A little over twenty years later, William Frost officially patented the first bug zapper, though a model produced by a professor of parasitology at the University of California would hit the scene two years later and set the standard for bug zapper designs.
All these early designs of bug zappers relied on light to lure the insects to their impending doom, but more recent science regarding insects' sensitivity to pheromones has led some scientists and inventors to incorporate pheromone emission into their bug beaters.