Are Bug Zappers Effective?

Should you rely on bug zappers to keep your home pest free?

Over the past several decades, homeowners have used a wide variety of methods and devices to either prevent bugs from entering their property or to kill them once they arrive. As you’re probably aware, bug zappers are one of the most well-known contraptions that will supposedly attract bugs that have invaded your property and make short work of them.

You may be wondering if bug zappers work as advertised. Today, we’re going to take a quick trip through history as we explore the precursor to bug zappers, the creation of these devices, and whether they’re an effective means of eliminating flying insects that enter your yard.

The History of Fly Swatters

Many people reading this probably don’t remember just how prevalent fly swatters were back in the day. These simple contraptions consisted of a flat pad on a stick and the overall idea was that you used them to “swat” flies by splattering them to Kingdom Come.

They could also be used for other types of flying insects such as gnats and mosquitoes. These swatters were effective, but would often end with someone swinging wildly on the hunt for a critter buzzing around the room until their annoyance reached John McEnroe proportions. If you succeeded, it was… um… messy and gross.

The world needed a better solution. Enter: the bug zapper!

The History of Bug Zappers

The bug zapper was first patented way back in the early 1930’s. The concept was simple, as well: the device would act as an electronic fly swatter by attracting insects with an ultraviolet light and then giving them a “zap” of electricity when the insects made contact with the electric grid.

This electric charge was mild, but more than to enough to kill insects instantly. Homeowners began storing away their plastic fly swatters and hanging up a bug zapper or two outside as a welcome alternative. The “leave it and forget it” concept involved was an attractive prospect for people who had problems with winged bugs and didn’t want to spend the time trying out for the Olympic swatting team.

The Safety of Bug Zappers

When you ask a straightforward question like “Are bug zappers safe?,” what you’re probably wondering is whether or not a bug zapper could be harmful to someone in your household if they were to touch the device.

First off, modern bug zappers have an outer screen to keep someone from touching the electric grid in the center of the device, so the likelihood is that no one will ever experience a shock. Second, if someone was to infiltrate the outer portion, the voltage producing the electrical charge would hurt but it’s just not strong enough (even advanced models) to harm you unless there’s some kind of underlying medical condition involved.

Does that mean bug zappers are entirely reliable? Well, not so fast…

Killing the Wrong Insects 

The biggest criticism of bug zappers isn’t the idea that they’re not effective, because they definitely kill a lot of bugs. Anyone who has one hanging up at their home will tell you that they always have a large number of dead insects in the removable tray. However, the problem is that bug zappers are indiscriminate killers.

They treat mosquitoes in the exact same way that they treat ladybugs. Yes, believe it or not, but there are many beneficial insects out there – and the bug zapper is more likely to kill one of them instead. A recent study that you can read about here showed that a test of six bug zappers over a 10-week period resulted in killing 13,789 bugs. However, only 31 of those were either mosquitoes or other biting flies. Two similar tests showed better results, but even in those, mosquitoes only accounted for 4.1% and 6.4% of dead bugs over a full season. Those results obviously don’t bode well for bug zappers.

Ripple Effect of Bug Zappers

You might not think that killing bugs indiscriminately is a big deal, but it is. In many cases, this can upset as entire ecosystem. The circle of life isn’t just about bugs. It’s about other animals such as birds, too. Many birds have a diet that consist of a large proportion of insects.

When bug zappers kill a variety of insects, especially beetles, these birds can go hungry. This has shown to be harmful to songbirds in certain neighborhoods and could also affect nighthawks and bats, both of which hunt at night. Luckily, bees are spared because they’re not attracted to UV light, but moths – which also help with pollination – aren’t so lucky.

A Possible Counter-Argument

Evidence definitely exists that bug zappers aren’t very effective in killing the right types of bugs and present problems with the environment and ecosystem. However, proponents of bug zappers believe that adding attractants for mosquitoes will increase the number of those particular insects that are killed.

This could be especially helpful since mosquitoes are often the biggest target. Some people also believe that the potential health issues of exploding insects is very low compared to the positive effects of removing disease-carrying insects from the population. Some areas where mosquitoes and other biting insects swarm will likely see better results.

Are Bug Zappers Effective?

The answer to this particular question is a mixed bag of sorts. While it’s true that bug zappers aren’t likely to give you a harmful shock if you touch the electrical grid, a bug zapper can be damaging to your household and the environment just by doing its job.

Bug zappers are effective in killing flying insects, but the leading belief is that they typically do more harm than good. Between killing beneficial insects, potentially harming the ecosystem, and threatening the quality of your air, it’s best that you find other methods of pest control.

You can take steps such as removing food and water sources, sealing holes around the edges of your doors and windows, keeping trash covered and away from your home, and – most effectively – hiring a pest control service whenever the need arrives.

Contact ProHealth for Residential and Commercial Pest Control 

The experts at ProHealth Pest Control doesn’t need bug zappers or any such methods to eliminate your pest problem. We use organic pest control methods that are safer and healthier for your household or business.

You’ll also enjoy contactless pest control so that you can rest assured our techs will not come into contact with children or pets. If you have any questions or are in need of the elimination cockroaches, mosquitoes, ants, mice, rats, spiders, bed bugs, bees, wasps, or any other residential or commercial pest control needs, reach out by calling (727) 310-0521 to schedule a free consultation.