Mosquito traps are wonders of modern technology in the war on mosquitoes, relying on science and insect behavior to accomplish their task.
It's important to understand that these machines don't REPEL mosquitoes, they ATTRACT the mosquitoes first and lure them into the trap where they die. They do not only attract mosquitoes from the immediate area, some models can draw them in from a radius of as much as 1.5 acres . Since they initially bring mosquitoes to the area, this is not something you buy the morning of your big cookout and place in the middle of your patio unless you want to turn your party into an itchy, buggy disaster!
Because of the way they work, it takes time for traps to exterminate a large population. If you run the machine consistently over a period of days or even weeks your patience will be rewarded by a noticeable reduction in mosquito activity without resorting to toxic potions and sprays.
The various makes and models of mosquito traps differ from one another in the way in which they draw mosquitoes to the trap (attractants) and the way in which they actually catch them (capture methods.)
Mosquito traps are effective ... IF you can convince the bugs to fly into the trap!
If you have a mosquito problem, I bet you don't spend much time thinking about how to attract the biting beasts! But if you prefer trapping to toxic insecticides it's something you need to consider. In order for your trap to succeed, you need the right "bait" to lure the unsuspecting critters.
Light, a key feature of insect "zappers", is irresistible to many flying insects, like moths. But will it catch mosquitoes? Depends on what type of mosquitoes you're dealing with! For example:
Since light has some limited effectiveness, nearly all mosquito traps offer a "light show" of some type. A few use blinking lights in a fixed or random pattern to simultaneously imitate movement, and color contrasts, others just produce a steady glow.
Owners of machines where light is the main or sole attractant frequently complain of finding everything BUT mosquitoes in the catch tray. Bug zappers are equally ineffective for dealing with your mosquito population.
Since light alone doesn't quite do the trick - trap manufacturers had to get a little more creative.
Whether a cow, a dog, a horse or a human, the mosquitoes' prey share several common traits which help the insects zero in on a tasty meal:
Nearly all traps generate some heat - either as a by-product of the lights, or through combustion of propane. Like light and motion (as imitated by light patterns) it is not an especially strong attractant by itself, but in combination with other methods it can simulate a human target.
The better traps produce carbon dioxide (CO2) - much more convincing to a wider variety of mosquitoes!
On many of the propane-powered traps, the catalytic converter which converts propane to carbon dioxide also produces a fine plume of moisture.
Light, heat, motion, Co2 - some mosquitoes will still play hard-to-get. Enter the lure of scent!
Scientists in the lab have isolated and replicated scents which hungry mosquitoes find enticing:
Scent strips, cartridges or blocks are designed to fit specific mosquito traps - always buy products compatible with your trap. Scent lures need to be replaced every month or so.
The answer is, "it depends." One of the biggest challenges to trapping mosquitoes is that there are many different species and each responds to a different and unique combination of stimuli. Traps which utilize multiple attractant methods, a feature of the better models, are the most likely to yield positive results - regardless of where you live.
Once the attractant draws them to the trap, there are essentially three different ways in which the mosquitoes are captured and killed: Dry catch, wet catch and sticky paper.
Some high-end traps give you a choice of using wet or dry capture methods.
How it works: Mosquitoes get vacuumed or swept into a net, tray or bin where they dehydrate and die. This is the most commonly-used capture method, especially on machines in the lower price range.
Used by: Mega-Catch Alpha , Dynatrap, Mosquito Magnet, Lentek / Koolatron, Flowtron, Viatek,
How it works: Mosquitoes fall into a tray of liquid, where they drown.
Used by: Meta-Catch Premier, Pro900 XC and Ultra, Dynatrap DT1200.
Cons: Can be messy - both to set up and to empty.
How it works: Mosquitoes get vacuumed into the trap and stuck to the sticky paper.
Used by: Skeeter-Vac
Cons: Higher cost of supplies, can accidently injure birds and other harmless wildlife.