5 Best Bug Zappers - Mar. 2024 - BestReviews (2024)

Buying guide for Best bug zappers

Nothing beats a beautiful summer night, enjoying a warm breeze on your deck or in your yard with friends and family. Until uninvited guests show up in the form of flies, mosquitos, and other pesky insects, of course. Whether they’re the biting kind or not, bugs can put a damper on a fun evening outdoors.

Bug sprays are laden with chemicals, which can raise a variety of health concerns. Bug zappers are an ideal alternative. Zappers can keep the insect population in your yard under control without harsh pesticides. Finding the right bug zapper can be tricky, though. There are several types to choose from, and certain features and range of coverage can make one zapper a better fit for your yard than another.

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The grid in a bug zapper typically generates 2,000 volts or more, which is enough to pass through an insect but not cause sparks in the air.

Bug zapper vs. bug spray

  • With a bug zapper, you can get rid of many different insects quickly.

  • A zapper requires no personal involvement. You don’t have to worry about accidentally stumbling upon a hive or nest — or getting up close and personal with creepy-crawlies — in your quest to get rid of the pests around your home.

  • While you can add chemicals to some bug zappers to increase their effectiveness, you can operate a zapper without any chemicals at all.

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Testing bug zappers

We tested our top bug zapper after spending over 40 hours researching over 80 different models and consulting with more than 200 consumers.

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Types of bug zappers

Insect traps

An insect trap lures insects to the device with light, and then a vacuum sucks them into a chamber. The bugs remain trapped in the zapper until they eventually die of dehydration.

You must empty the inner unit periodically.

Electronic zappers

An electronic zapper also uses light to lure bugs to the device. However, instead of trapping the insects, an electronic zapper electrocutes them when they touch the unit’s electrical grid. There is usually a tray at the bottom of the zapper that catches the debris.

Chemical-free bug zappers are a safer, healthier alternative to traditional insect sprays.

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Electric swatters

An electric swatter is usually shaped like a tennis racket and runs on batteries. It features an electric grid that electrocutes insects when you wave the swatter at them. A swatter is portable, so you can take it with you on the go.

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We note the length of the cord when examining bug zappers for our shortlist, as cord length can affect placement.

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Since most bug zappers emit a humming noise when operating, we research how loud the noise is to determine if it’s a tolerable buzz or an annoying sound.

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We note the height of each bug zapper and where it should ideally be placed. A zapper hung 3 to 4 feet above the ground tends to be good for flies, whereas a zapper that’s 4 to 5 feet off the ground is suitable for targeting mosquitoes.

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A handy feature we look for in a bug zapper is an automatic timer. This allows users to program the device to turn on and off at specific times.

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Most zappers are meant to be used only outdoors, but some are safe for indoor use. We note these details when shortlisting the best bug zappers.

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We learn about each bug zapper’s estimated killing range, which is typically measured in square feet or acres.

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We look for quality bug zappers with mesh screens to help prevent tiny hands from accidentally getting zapped.

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Because light alone doesn’t always lure bugs, we appreciate bug zappers that come with the option to insert a chemical attractant.

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We look for bug zappers that are waterproof and designed not to clog.

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Some bug zappers are easier to clean than others. A feature we appreciate is a removable tray that can quickly be removed, cleaned, and replaced.

What to consider when you buy a bug zapper

Indoor/outdoor use

While nearly all bug zappers are designed for outdoor use, not all models are meant for indoor use. Choose a zapper that can be used in the area where you plan to install it.

Some models are designed for both indoor and outdoor use.

Noise level

Because they use electricity to kill insects, many bug zappers emit a low humming noise during operation. When pests are killed, there may also be a popping sound. If you’re planning to use a zapper indoors, you’ll likely want one that’s as quiet as possible.

Chemical attractants

Because light doesn’t attract all flying insects, such as mosquitos and other biting species, you may want to shop for a bug zapper that comes with a chemical attractant or repellent or lets you add one.

Design

Bug zappers come in a variety of designs, but it’s important to choose a model that is enticing to a variety of flying insects.

  • Light:Styles that use light attract many flying insects, such as moths, mayflies, crane flies, and beetles.

  • Chemical:If you want to attract biting insects, such as mosquitos, you’ll need a zapper that lets you add chemical attractants.

  • Electric:If you choose a zapper that electrocutes insects, make sure it’s designed to protect you from accidental contact, so you don’t injure yourself when it’s in use.

Range

A bug zapper’s range is a very important feature. You need a zapper with a large enough range to cover the area where you want to eliminate bugs. However, many homeowners make the mistake of purchasing a zapper with a range that is too large, which only attracts insects from neighboring yards and areas, instead of killing the pests that are already present.

You can find bug zappers with ranges from square feet to acres. Measure your yard, and choose a model with a range that fits the area you’re trying to protect. Keep in mind that you can increase the range of a bug zapper by using chemical attractants or repellents.

Timer

Some bug zappers are equipped with a timer, which turns the device on and off on a programmed schedule.

If you don’t want to worry about forgetting to turn the zapper on or off, this can be a handy feature.

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For your safety

Bug zappers don’t pose much of a fire hazard. However, always connect the zapper to GFCI-protected receptacles, and make sure that the cord doesn’t get wet or frayed.

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Tips and tricks for using a bug zapper

  • A bug zapper is designed to attract insects in order to trap or electrocute them, so you shouldn’t place it on your deck or in your yard’s sitting area. You’ll only wind up bringing more bugs to the area where you hang out. Instead, place it at least 15 to 20 feet from where you usually sit.

  • The best height for your zapper depends on the main insects you’re targeting. House flies fly low, so you should position the zapper 3 to 4 feet off the ground to snag them. For small fruit flies, you’ll want to hang the zapper at a height of 4 to 5 feet. Hang traps 5 to 6 feet off the ground to target mosquitoes.

  • If you’re using a bug zapper indoors, keep it away from the door and window sightlines, but still nearby, to handle any bugs that sneak inside. If the zapper’s light is visible from outside, it may wind up drawing pests into the house.

  • You should clean out your bug zapper at least once a week. If you leave dead insects in the zapper, they may attract scavenger bugs.

  • To avoid drawing insects to the very spot you don’t want them, place a bug zapper at least 15 to 20 feet from your outdoor sitting area.

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Caution

Never place a bug zapper near an area where food is prepared. Food can easily be contaminated with bacteria and viruses that are released when insects are killed.

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How much should I pay for a bug zapper?

Bug zappers vary in price based on type and range of coverage. In general, expect to pay between $10 and $300.

Inexpensive

For a simple battery-operated electric swatter, you’ll usually pay between $10 and $25.

Mid-range

For an electric insect trap, you’ll usually pay between $20 and $50.

Expensive

For an electric bug zapper, you’ll usually pay between $50 and $300.

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Measure your yard. Purchase a bug zapper with a range as close to your yard’s size as possible. You can also increase the range of a bug zapper that uses light to attract insects with multiple light bulbs and/or bulbs with high wattages.

FAQ

Q. Do electric bug zappers kill mosquitoes?

A. Unfortunately, mosquitoes and many other biting insects aren’t attracted to light. However, that doesn’t mean a zapper isn’t capable of killing mosquitoes. If they fly close enough to the device, they’ll suffer the same fate as insects attracted to the light.

Q. How large should a bug zapper’s range be?

A. The proper range for a bug zapper depends on the size of your yard. If you purchase a zapper with a range that’s larger than your property, you’ll wind up attracting insects from neighboring yards instead of controlling the population you already have.

Q. What features can make a bug zapper more effective?

A. A timer can be very handy. It will turn on the bug zapper so it has time to work before you actually go outside. Depending on what insects you want to target, you may also want a bug zapper that lets you use chemical attractants to help lure bugs that aren’t drawn to the zapper’s light.

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