The 10 Best Bug Zappers
- doesn't leave smeared insect remains
- works well on spiders too
- not a long-lasting solution
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
- attracts bugs from 100 feet away
- very energy-efficient
- ugly and industrial-looking
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
- large striking area
- comes with batteries
- not durable over the long term
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
- lightweight and easy to swing
- batteries are included
- easy to accidentally shock yourself
|Rating||4.4 / 5.0|
- energy-efficient design
- open bottom is easy to clean
- needs to be placed away from house
|Rating||4.4 / 5.0|
- cool-running magnetic transformer
- black light acts as unobtrusive lure
- large and bulky
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
- marine-grade waterproofing
- no clogged mesh to clean up
- more attractive than other options
|Rating||4.3 / 5.0|
- chemical-free solution
- safe for use around pets
- works on hornets and wasps too
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
- great for tiny bugs like gnats
- simple to set up out of the box
- can be stored easily when not in use
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
- ships fully assembled
- can be used freestanding or mounted
- bulbs don't get hot to the touch
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
Bring The Bees To Their Knees
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.
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.