7 Best Bug Zappers

Want to eliminate the most annoying pests of summer? Here's what to look for in a bug zapper to make sure you get those mosquitoes!

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Gaiatop Bug Zapper Outdoor Ecomm Amazon.comVIA MERCHANT

Buying a Bug Zapper

Let’s face it: No one likes swarming bugs, especially those pesky mosquitos. Besides their annoying buzz and itch-inducing bite, they’re a potential source for diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mosquitos found in the continental U.S. can transfer 13 viruses and three parasites through their bites.

The first step toward reducing mosquitos in your yard is eliminating standing water, which is where they breed. Look for clogged gutters, rain barrels and non-draining plant pots. For standing water you can’t remove, try mosquito dunks. Dropping one of these little hard doughnuts in the water will kill mosquito larvae, yet it’s safe for humans, birds, fish, pets and wildlife.

Once you’ve taken that initial step, focus on eliminating adult mosquitos. One of the most popular ways to do this is with a bug zapper, which kills insects with an electrical shock.

Bug zappers typically feature two sets of grids surrounding a light. The outer grid is for safety — plastic or grounded metal bars that prevent humans or pets from getting zapped. The electrically charged inner grid carries enough power to kill insects that encounter it. The light in the center attracts the bugs.

Many zappers combine visible and UV light. Those work great on moths and gnats, but not mosquitos, which are attracted by carbon dioxide and warm moisture. For mosquito control, you’ll need a chemical bait or lure like octenol or titanium dioxide (TiO2).

Some key considerations when shopping for a bug zapper include:

  • The bait: For most flying insects, a UV light is the only lure you’ll need. But to be effective against mosquitos, you’ll need to appeal to their senses. If a zapper doesn’t come with a mosquito attractant, don’t worry! You can add your own bait to most zappers. (See the last slide for two recommended bait products.)
  • Clean-up: Does the zapper let the bug debris fall to the ground, or collect in a tray for easy disposal?
  • Noise: How loud is the zapper, normally and when a bug hits it? Most models don’t include a decibel (dB) rating, so look for ones that brag about their quiet operation.
  • Power source: Most use AC power. But battery-operated, rechargeable and solar-powered models are making headway into the market.
  • Usage: There are plenty of options for placing and using a bug zapper. Some rest on a table while others hang overhead. Some are even built like mini-tennis racquets and act as swatters!
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Pic Patio Lantern Outdoor Insect Trappic Patio Lantern Outdoor Insect Trap Ecomm Lowes.com

Most Stylish Solar Bug Zapper

Typical bug zappers aren’t really about the aesthetics. Then there’s the PIC Patio Lantern Bug Zapper. It features elegant curves, an attractive finish and a flicker flame effect, making it a smart design choice on most backyard patios.

The PIC lasts six hours on a full charge. Choose from two light modes — the colorful flickering flame or white light. Either way it automatically activates at dusk, a true set-it-and-forget-it solution.

Note that this zapper lures insects with a UV LED light. So if you want it to kill mosquitos, you’ll need to add mosquito-specific bait. (See the last slide for recommendations.)

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Gaiatop Bug Zapper Outdoor Ecomm Amazon.com

Highest-Rated Bug Zapper

Gaiatop Bug Zapper is the highest-rated bug zapper on Amazon, earning 4.3 out of five stars with more than 1,600 reviews.

Reviewers highlight the company’s prompt customer service. Amazon review David C. Harris complained the zapper only lasted seven months, but Gaiatop’s response caused him to amend his review.

“I was contacted by the manufacturer … about a month after posting my three-star review (I had not tried contacting them) and they were very interested in the early failure,” he writes. The company offered a replacement.

This AC-powered zapper comes with a durable waterproof shell, a collection tray for insect remains, and a cleaning rod for the mesh grid. This also doesn’t come with mosquito bait, so you’ll have to supply your own (recommendations in the last slide). Before you buy one, make sure that you know all about indoor mosquito traps.

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Black+decker Bug Zapper Ecomm Amazon.com

Best Bug Zapper for a Large Area

Most outdoor bug zappers cover about half an acre. The Black+Decker bug zapper can handle up to one full acre.

It’s larger than most zappers, standing more than 16 inches tall. It can rest on a flat surface or hang with the included ring and chain. It advertises “relatively quiet” operation, although it doesn’t list dB.

Our one complaint: It relies on UV light as a lure, which isn’t effective for mosquitos. Plan on picking up a mosquito lure to make this a truly effective zapper. (See the last slide for recommendations.)

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Anne Diary Electric Bug Zapper Racketanne Diary Electric Bug Zapper Racket Ecomm Amazon.com

Best Traditional Hand-Held Bug Zapper

One sub-category of bug zappers combines zapping and swatting. These devices resemble tennis rackets and don’t come with insect bait. Instead, you swing them through the air and swat/zap the flying nuisances.

These are cleverly designed and pretty fun to use.  The problem is, many are poorly made, and their ratings reflect this.

The hand-held Anne Diary Electric Bug Zapper is an exception. It features strong ratings and a traditional multi-grid look to protect users and bystanders from accidental shocks. In a patent-pending design twist, the swatter head rotates 90 degrees to make zapping bugs on walls far easier.

It can also be operated while propped upright in its charging base. The UV light acts as a lure to eliminate flying insects without any physical activity on your part.

It’s sleek styling and polished white finish give the Anne Diary Bug Zapper a classic feel, not unlike the original generations of iPhones.

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The Executioner Fly Killer Mosquito Swatter Racket Ecomm Amazon.com

Most Shocking Hand-Held Bug Zapper

By contrast, The Executioner offers a master class in packaging and outside-the-box design thinking.

Rather than sleek lines and classical style, The Executioner’s label sports a masked figure out of a medieval tale. Even more surprising, it abandons the safety-first design of most hand-held zappers by eliminating protective grids. So when you push the button to activate it, anything or anyone touching the grid will be shocked.

This makes it much easier to eliminate bugs with a single swat, although it’s also easier to zap yourself or others. While extremely effective, The Executioner is definitely not for children.

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Electronic Bug Zapper Ecomm Amazon.com

Best Indoor Bug Zapper

The Tysonir Electronic Bug Zapper is strictly for indoor use. This AC-powered model can rest on a table or hang from a wall or ceiling. It’s easy to access and clean the removable collection tray.  (Tysonir makes indoor/outdoor zappers, as well.)

It relies on UV light to attract bugs, so consider adding a mosquito lure to make it more effective against those pests (recommendations below). Note: This zapper is not waterproof.

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Careland Plug In Mosquito Zapper Lamp Ecomm Amazon.com

Best Portable Bug Zapper

Few bug zappers can claim to be portable, because power demands are simply too much for most batteries. One notable exception is the Careland USB-powered Mosquito Zapper. The USB feature means it can be powered by a portable power bank, just like a cell phone.

Press the power button once to engage zapper mode. Pressing a second time will activate a fan to draw in smaller insects, and trap them in the easily-removed collection tray.

We love that it comes with bait, although we’re not quite as happy that it doesn’t come with an AC adapter. You’ll have to supply one to plug it into a standard wall outlet.

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Dynatrap Atrakta Mosquito Lure Sachet Insect Trap And Black Flag Bz Oct1 Bug Zapper Octenol Lure Via Merchant 2

Best Octenol Lures

To convert a traditional zapper into a mosquito-killing machine, you’ll need an octenol lure to draw in those biting pests. Here are two great options to consider:

DynaTrap Atrakta Mosquito Lure: This drops into the collection basket of any zapper and gives out enough attraction to last for about 60 days.

Black Flag Mosquito Octenol Lure: This clip-on bait cage was made for Black Flag’s zappers but fits on most other units as well. It lasts about 30 days so it must be replaced more often than the DynaTrap, but it’s about one-third the price.

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Dan Stout
Ohio-based freelance writer and author Dan Stout is a former residential remodeler, commercial site supervisor and maintenance manager. He’s worked on nearly all aspects of building and DIY including project planning and permitting, plumbing, basic electric, drywall, carpentry, tiling, painting and more. He also publishes noir fantasy thrillers, including The Carter Series, from Penguin imprint DAW Books.