Mosquitos can make your life miserable. Between the itchy bites and the annual fears about insect-borne illnesses like West Nile Virus, itâ€™s enough to make you hide indoors behind your screens. You can dress the part (long pants and sleeves) and slather on the Eau de Cutter, but if you live in a heavily infested area, even that might not be enough to escape the bites. Alternately, you can battle mosquitos by trying to kill them. There are plenty of traps out there designed to do exactly this, but are they truly effective? We look at the latest mosquito traps and try and sort things out.
Bottom line: If you buy a mosquito trap and expect it to act like some sort of magical, mosquito-slaying force field, youâ€™re going to be disappointed. Daniel Kline, a researcher for the U.S. Department of Agriculture plainly states that the true effectiveness of mosquito traps is unknown. He says, â€śI don't care what the mosquito control method is. You're going to get bitten." Kline notes, however, that there are some benefits, as the mosquitos that do get trapped are bound to include egg-laying females, which should reduce the number of viable egg banks in and around your property (mosquito eggs can stay viable for years).
Any traps claiming to drastically reduce or kill off your problematic mosquito population should be viewed with skepticism, according to the American Mosquito Control Association. There are so many factors involved â€“ ranging from the local climate, mosquito type and population size to the placement of the trap or traps themselves â€“ that there simply is no foolproof solution. If you purchase a trap to help deal with skeeters on your property, youâ€™ll probably have to endure some trial-and-error frustrations as you figure out what placement works best for you. Experts say that you should also take manufacturerâ€™s claims about coverage areas with a grain of salt, as theyâ€™re not scientifically-based.
Understanding that no trap will work miracles, there clearly some that fare better than others. Traps by Mosquito Magnet, such as the new Mosquito Magnet Patriot, outperform competitors in tests, catching more mosquitos from a greater species variety. The Mosquito Magnet burns propane (it employs a regular tank like youâ€™d use on your gas grill) to generate heat and carbon dioxide, simulating human breath. A chemical attractant can also be used in combination with the gas, and mosquitos lured to the device are sucked into a bag and dehydrated. Unless you pony up for an expensive cordless model, however, trap placement is limited by the Patriotâ€™s 50-foot power cord. And even though Mosquito Magnet models are good at catching mosquitos, we found user reviews saying they can be expensive to run and arenâ€™t particularly durable. Some buyers say they lasted only one season.
The other two best-reviewed mosquito traps, the Mega-Catch Premier and SkeeterVac SV1300, use different approaches to achieve the same goal as the Mosquito Magnet. The Mega-Catch Premier does away with the bulky propane tank, for example, and relies on a combinationation of light and chemical lures to bring in the bugs. (Like the Mosquito magnet, placement is limited by an electrical cord.) The SkeeterVac uses propane and chemical attractants, but is cordless. User reviews applaud SkeeterVacâ€™s high level of customer service as well.
Our freshly-updated full report covers the best mosquito traps and runners-up in much greater detail, and goes over all the important features to look for â€“ as well as the dubious claims to look out for. The bottom line is that mosquito traps do indeed catch mosquitos -- sometimes in large quantities -- but theyâ€™re best used as a key feature in a broader set of mosquito-mitigation tactics and practices. If you expect a trap to solve the problem by itself, you'll never be satisfied.