How to Choose Best Mosquito Trap for Indoor & Outdoor Use for 2023 [Top 10]
Mosquitos are not only annoying, but they can also be dangerous. As carriers of some of the most deadly diseases in the world such as West Nile Virus and malaria, it is essential to find a solution to keep you and your family safe from them. Both outdoor and indoor use.
It may seem like there is an overwhelming amount of different mosquito traps, but don’t worry. We will help you break down how mosquito traps work so you will become an expert in no time! While a mosquito repellent can help for a little while, a trap works much better in the long run. Most insect traps are intended to capture mosquitoes, but there are some that are capable of killing the blood-sucking insects too. Some people think that mosquito traps are inefficient and do little to reduce the mosquito population near your home, but that may only be true for certain traps. Some traps are suited for indoors, others outdoors, but here we’re going dive deep into all the different types of mosquito traps and how they function. Solve your mosquito problem for good.
One thing to keep in mind is that mosquito traps are not cheap. They are used as a semi-permanent solution to keep an area a pest free and can cost up to hundreds of dollars.
We realize that there are two primary intended uses for mosquito traps — indoor and outdoor, which is why we chose a winner for each category. Mosquito traps do not have immediate results. Unlike insecticides, mosquito traps take a little while before you notice a visible reduction in the population of unwanted pests. Don’t expect to see no insects at all after 10 minutes of turning the trap on, but rather a few days.
The way a mosquito trap functions is unique and can be broken down into two parts. The first task is to lure mosquitoes to the trap by mimicking human activity in some capacity. Some traps try to replicate human movement in the visible and invisible light spectrum, create heat mimicking a human body, or excrete emissions to mimic human breath or sweat. The second task is to trap and kill the mosquito, which can be done through a suction machine or even with a net.
How Mosquito Traps Lure Targets
A mosquito trap is useless if it can never lure mosquitoes to investigate it, which means it’s important to understand how mosquitoes hunt for their targets. Only female mosquitoes bite for blood. They typically fly around 25 feet or lower from the ground, where they use a combination of their three sensory organs to find prey:
Antennae detect carbon dioxide released from a person’s breath and are also extremely sensitive to chemicals commonly produced by humans, including octanol which is a substance found in sweat.
Compound Eyes are how mosquitoes see the world, and they are made of hundreds of tiny lenses designed to see movement. Their eyes can see an incredibly wide angle and are typically more useful for insects active during the day, which rely more on visual cues.
Maxillary palpus is an organ located on the head of the mosquito and is heat sensitive. This is used to locate areas of heat, typically warm-blooded prey, and find the warmest areas of the body. These warm areas are usually where blood runs closest to the skin, making it one of the easiest points to draw blood from.
Mosquito traps operate by taking advantage of mosquito’s sensory abilities by tricking them, either by mimicking the smells of people or visual movement associated with people. There are a number of different methods that this is achieved, including traps that produce CO2, octanol, heat, light, or any combination of these. The goal is to lure the mosquito into the trap where they stay until they die.
Effective placement is key for mosquito traps. This means traps need to be placed in shaded areas in between where mosquitoes come from and people gather since the insects will notice the traps first. Try a number of different places until you find the most effective location. It may also be worth experimenting with different attractants to see which is most effective.
The end goal is that the combination of different attractants will lure mosquitoes to where the trap can be sprung. We’ve taken a look at all of the most common (and some less common) methods that mosquito traps use to lure their targets in. Keep in mind that not all mosquitoes are the same – extremely effective traps for one breed of mosquito may fall flat when used in another region, which is why many traps build in as much redundancy as possible by layering on multiple means of attracting mosquitoes.
The benefit of most mosquito traps is that they don’t depend on harsh and dangerous chemicals, which means they can be safe around children and pets. While propane-burning solutions can create heat and have an open flame, it still only releases CO2 which is a completely natural byproduct of breathing. Unlike pesticides or mosquito sprays which are scientifically proven to be toxic to people and pets, mosquito traps do not take a carpet-bombing approach to killing insects. Another side benefit is that because mosquito traps are specifically tailored to attract only biting insects, moths and bees are not affected at all.
Mosquito Attractant Types
While different mosquito trap models and brands may vary, there are only a handful of different methods used to attract these biting insects.
Lighting– These are traps that have light systems that flash at frequencies that are attractive to mosquitoes. Some models may flashlights that are visible to the naked eye whereas others may flash light that is invisible to people (ultraviolet light).
Lighting as an attractant is usually secondary to CO2, Heat, or Octenol. Lightning solutions usually occur right around the trap mechanism as a way to more accurately draw biting insects to where the trap is triggered.
Octenol – Is one type of attractant lure used to pull in mosquitoes. Octenol was initially discovered in Africa as a byproduct of research into sleeping sickness in cows. Since mosquitoes are known to bite both cows and people, Octenol has been a means of fooling insects into traps ever since. Octenol is a chemical that has proven to be very attractive to mosquitoes, which means the release of Octenol from the device tends to draw in biting insects. Since most mosquitoes have very primitive visual senses, Octenol is one of the more effective ways to target a broad range of mosquitoes since they rely on scent and heat detection to find people.
While Octenol does attract a variety of biting insects and mosquitoes, it’s effectiveness varies among the different species of mosquitoes. The EPA fact sheet reports that octenol is not harmful to humans and the environment.
Octenol is recommended for use in northern states.
Lurex – Lurex is a mix that contains lactic acid and another substance, and it is specifically formulated to attract Asian tiger mosquitos. This breed of mosquito is more common in southern states.
CO2 Systems – Mosquitos are extremely attracted to human breath, of which CO2 is a large component. Most CO2 systems function by burning propane steadily over time, which releases CO2. CO2 systems fool insects into recognizing these emissions as human breath and they the CO2 emission is typically only one part of an overall approach to lure biting insects into the trap.
Propane Systems – One of the most common methods of generating CO2 is through burning propane, supplied through propane tanks. Keep in mind that propane tanks do not have an infinite amount of fuel, which means that replacing propane tanks will become a regular part of maintaining this solution. In addition, since propane CO2 solutions involve burning gas, it is intended only for outdoor use. Under no circumstances should a propane-burning mosquito trap be brought indoors.
Heat Systems – Perhaps one of the most common forms of attracting mosquitoes, many models have a way to generate heat which replicates the temperature of the human body. This is commonly achieved through propane, which is heated to generate CO2 The heat source is typically located very close to the trap intake system. Heat and CO2 systems are commonly found together on systems that use propane.
Mosquito Trap Types
The luring system in the world is no use if the mosquitoes aren’t captured and removed from the area. The second stage of mosquito traps is how mosquitoes are captured – there are a number of different methods. They all work well, but some may be more energy intensive or noisier.
Vacuum Trap – A vacuum trap describes the means that mosquitoes are captured and held, not necessarily how they are lured to the trap in the first place. These traps use a silent vacuum to suck bugs into the chamber, where they become dehydrated over time until they die. The benefit of vacuum traps is that they don’t typically use chemicals to kill off insects, meaning that they are non-toxic and can be used around pets and children.
Fan Trap – Much like a vacuum trap, a fan trap is a means of capturing and holding mosquitoes. Unlike a vacuum trap, however, fan traps can be made at home with some do-it-yourself skills. At a high level, fan traps exert enormous air pressure of an area that sucks the insect into a space where it cannot escape. The drawback to fan traps is that they often run much louder than vacuum traps and can cause air flow in areas that may not be desired. A much more powerful solution, it is a more indiscriminate when it comes to killing flying insects so it could suck in other unintended guests as well.
Outdoor mosquito fans are a clean and powerful way of eliminating biting insects. Since they don’t require any pesticides or harmful chemicals, they are safe around children and pets. Another benefit is that they don’t extrude any strong scents.
Electrical Grids – Electrical grids are a means of killing mosquitoes instantly. The goal is to get mosquitoes to touch highly-charged electrical grids which kills them instantaneously through the high voltage contact. These types of mosquito killers typically have a tray where dead mosquitoes fall, making it one of the easiest traps to clean and maintain. In addition, since it does not use harsh chemicals or pesticides to kill mosquitoes, it is more environmentally friendly and can also be used indoors to great effect!
The drawback to electrical grids is partially implied in the name. First off, they require an electrical plug in order to function, which means the only locations they can be set up are limited by the length of your extension wire. In addition, the highly-charged surface can be very painful (and potentially dangerous) for children or pets that touch it. Fortunately, nearly all models have some sort of grid or protective barrier that makes it almost impossible to touch on accident.
Important Considerations for the Best Mosquito Trap
Phew, that was a lot of information on mosquito traps! Deciding which mosquito trap to purchase is a very detailed decision, but there are three high level points to keep in mind before you choose a trap.
Attractants vary in effectiveness with different species. The effectiveness of mosquito traps depend greatly on how they attract mosquitoes. Some attractants work better than others, which means a CO2-based system may be ideal for one home but not for another. For best results, make sure that mosquitoes in your particular area respond well to one (or more) of the attractants of your desired trap.
Maintenance is key. A trap will only work well if it is properly maintained, much like a car. For ease of maintenance, pick a trap that you can easily keep clean and in shape. If you have a strong background with electrical products, go for that! If you are more comfortable with fuel-based products, go with a fuel-dependent trap.
Location matters. The area you place your trap can make a huge difference in results. Keep in mind that some traps are intended to only be used outdoors while others are made for indoors – make sure you don’t put your trap in a location it’s not built for. Make sure that your traps are also placed in a location that mosquitoes commonly travel through, not right in the midst of where people congregate!
Mobility. Most mosquito traps are not mobile – they are heavy, require to be plugged in or need another type of external fuel source. There are, however, USB mosquito traps that can be charged and powered through a USB port! Most USB traps are lightweight and portable. However, USB mosquito traps draw much less power than other trap types which means the range of coverage will be much smaller.