If you’ve ever had a backyard party ruined by pesky mosquitoes, tried to apply mosquito repellant on a squirmy toddler or are concerned about mosquito-borne illnesses, you should be in the market for a mosquito trap. Mosquito traps interrupt the breeding cycle of this insect by tricking the females (the ones who bite) into entering the mechanism with a scent that mimics the carbon dioxide (CO2) in human breath. Pronto’s Mosquito Trap Buying Guide will separate the performance from the promises so you can enjoy a summer that’s relaxing and mosquito-free.
Mosquito traps attract female mosquitoes with a combination of propane-produced carbon dioxide and octenol that mosquitoes mistake for human breath, luring them into the trap. By killing the female mosquitoes, mosquito traps break the breeding cycle and eliminate local mosquito populations. Propane costs about $25 a month to replace, and octenol costs $15 per month.
Mosquito traps are designed to treat areas up to half an acre and should usually be placed in a flat, open area about 30 to 40 feet from places where people gather. Mosquito traps that use electrical current need fewer propane refills and cost less, but self-contained mosquito traps provide unlimited flexibility in placement.
Most mosquito traps use a vacuum that draws mosquitoes to a net that can easily be emptied. Choose adhesive traps if you want to save power and don’t mind the sticky mess. Electric-grid traps are the most effective at eliminating mosquitoes.
Apart from refueling and emptying, mosquito traps don’t require a lot of upkeep. Take advantage of maintenance time to gauge performance. If you’re not trapping many mosquitoes but you’re getting bitten frequently, it’s a sign that something needs attention.
Don’t find yourself lured by “studies” that promise a mosquito-free yard unless they’ve been independently verified by a national magazine or testing lab. Try to find user reviews from people who live in your area to find a mosquito trap that works with local species.
Carbon dioxide, a gas exhaled by humans, birds, pets and other animals when they breathe. Mosquitoes can smell CO2 and they use it to locate food. Mosquito traps work by mimicking the CO2 level and temperature in human breath.
A mosquito trap that uses a charged electric mesh or plate to instantly zap mosquitoes when they fly nearby.
A form of carbon used in mosquito traps that mimics the breath given off by cattle and livestock.
A mosquito trap that generates the power it needs from the same propane fuel that it uses as a lure. These mosquito traps can be set up anywhere, but the high cost of thermoelectric generators makes them the most expensive traps on the market.
Rather than keeping mosquitoes away from an area and the people in it, mosquito traps work by attracting the pests to the area and then ending their existence. Mosquito traps emit a combination of carbon dioxide, usually generated from a replaceable propane tank, and octenol (a chemical attractant) that lures mosquitoes, who mistake the scent of the two substances for human breath.
A plume of carbon dioxide and octenol is slowly released into the air, mimicking human exhalation. The blood-seeking mosquito follows the scent and gets lured into the mosquito trap, where it meets its end with a vacuum, fan, electric grid or adhesive surface. The female mosquitoes die off, no more eggs are laid, and the breeding cycle of the local mosquito population is interrupted (and eventually halted), resulting in a mosquito-free outdoor environment for you to enjoy.
Don’t expect immediate results from a mosquito trap. It takes about 7 to 10 days for a mosquito trap to thin out an established population. During that time, you’ll need to rely on mosquito repellants for maximum protection. If you see fewer mosquitoes around and you’re catching fewer in the mosquito trap, you know you’re winning the battle.
Most mosquito traps treat areas up to half an acre in size. If your property is larger than half an acre, you should consider buying more than one mosquito trap. Some mosquito traps are entirely self-contained and generate their power from propane, which allows you to place them anywhere on your property; an appealing feature for those with large yards to cover. These propane-powered mosquito traps are at the higher end of the price range due to the high cost of the thermoelectric generators that power the intake fans.
A tank of propane will last about 700 running hours—roughly one month of constant use—and then needs to be refilled at an added cost. Mosquito traps that run on electrical current don’t consume propane as quickly, but the length of extension cords limits their placement.
Ideally, mosquito traps should be placed 30 to 40 feet away from areas where people will be, but you may find it more effective to place the trap near a pond or wet area where mosquitoes breed. To maximize the effectiveness of a mosquito trap, it should be placed in a shady area between the feeding area (where people gather) and the breeding area on open, unobstructed ground. It will then capture the mosquitoes before they get to you.
Keep in mind that there are over 175 species of mosquitoes in the United States, and mosquito traps are more effective in attracting some species than others. Some mosquitoes will fly as far as 10 miles for a meal, though most species tend to stick close to the watery areas they use for breeding.
Few people are concerned with the humane removal of mosquitoes, so the type of trap you choose is a matter of ease of use. Adhesive traps require no additional power, but they can be messy and need to be replaced often for maximum effectiveness. Electric grids are the most reliable, but require extra power.
Most mosquito traps use a vacuum that pulls mosquitoes into a net. The vacuums are effective, but you’ll need to make sure it provides enough suction to get the job done.
Although mosquito traps do not need your constant attention, there is some maintenance involved. Besides making sure your mosquito trap is being supplied with power, you will need to make sure that propane and octenol is properly supplied and that fans are turning and clear of debris. Depending on which type of trap your model uses, you’ll need to empty the net, replace the adhesive board or clean the electric grid.
Take advantage of routine maintenance to evaluate the performance of your mosquito trap. If you’re seeing fewer mosquitoes in the trap but you’re still getting bitten, it’s a sign that the CO2 or octenol levels are insufficient, or that the lure isn’t being released at the right temperature.
You’ll also get better results with a mosquito trap if you reduce breeding sources around your property. Keep swimming pools clean and change the water in wading pools once a week. For ornamental ponds, consider an aerating water pump that will create enough water current to discourage mosquitoes from breeding.
The American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) reports that the science behind mosquito traps is solid and that mosquito traps perform “very well” in scientific trials. How well a mosquito trap performs in your yard is a question of proper maintenance, the number of mosquito sources and the species of mosquitoes that plagues you.
It’s best to be skeptical of the “independent” or “scientific” reviews that you’ll find online, especially if they’re provided by a mosquito trap manufacturer or authorized dealer. Few of these mosquito trap studies have been independently verified. To the industry’s credit, it’s obsessed with building a better mosquito trap, and underperforming traps tend to be quickly discontinued.
Look for independent reviews from national publications, such as Consumer Reports, or independent testing labs. User reviews of mosquito traps can also be helpful, but make sure to read reviews from people who live in your state or near your home, as they’re likely dealing with the same species of mosquito that you have.
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