Mosquito traps lure mosquitoes using carbon dioxide (CO2), heat, moisture, LED lights, chemical attractants like octenol or Lurex, or a combination of these enticements. Once mosquitoes approach a trap, they are then captured by a vacuum mechanism or sticky paper. Maintenance is a big part of owning a trap, as components regularly need to be changed or refilled. Nevertheless, if you live near water or you've found that personal insect repellents don't do enough, a mosquito trap can help reduce the number of biting insects, but they won't eradicate the problem completely.
Many traps use propane to generate CO2 and heat -- two things that draw mosquitoes to people and pets -- and of these, the Mosquito Magnet line earns the best reviews. One U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study tested two Mosquito Magnet traps against a Center for Disease Control (CDC) Miniature Light Trap and two other non-commercial traps. The Mosquito Magnet traps caught more mosquitoes than the others. Additional comparative studies found that Mosquito Magnet traps captured two to three times more mosquitoes than other trap types.
Mosquito Magnet manufactures three models: the Patriot, the Independence and the Executive. Like all Mosquito Magnet models, the Mosquito Magnet Patriot (*Est. $300) uses propane to produce carbon dioxide (CO2). Octenol and Lurex may also be used as attractants; Lurex has been shown to be effective in luring the Asian tiger mosquito that's common in the southern U.S. The manufacturer claims all three models provide effective coverage of up to an acre.
While government studies find the Mosquito Magnet line very effective, user postings paint a more nuanced picture. For example, the nearly 30 users posting to Amazon.com give the Patriot an average score of 3 out of 5 stars, with some calling it effective and others complaining that mosquitoes are still plentiful. Some who report success say it may be necessary to test the trap in multiple locations to find an optimum spot. Many also note that the trap is expensive to maintain, as the propane, optional chemical attractants, catch net and cleaning cartridge must be replaced periodically.
The two more expensive models, the Mosquito Magnet Independence (*Est. $600) and Executive (*Est. $725), are battery-operated mosquito traps that claim to cover up to an acre. The Patriot, by contrast, must be plugged into an outlet.
The cordless SkeeterVac series from Blue Rhino is an alternative line of propane-burning mosquito traps. SkeeterVacs attract mosquitoes using carbon dioxide, water vapor, heat, motion lighting and optional chemical attractants. The SkeeterVac SV3100 (*Est. $325), which claims to control mosquitoes in areas up to an acre, garners an average score of 3.2 out of 5 stars from nearly 70 reviewers posting to Amazon.com. Some users praise the trap's effectiveness, while others complain that it barely captures any mosquitoes. Maintenance costs are another source of frustration, and some users also report machine breakdowns. Amazon.com reviewers are slightly happier with the SkeeterVac SV5100 (*Est. $375), which is essentially the same as the SV3100, but with a higher CO2 output and a wheeled cart. This trap has an average score of 3.4 out of 5.
Mega-Catch mosquito traps don't produce CO2. Instead, they use a combination of octenol, LED and UV lighting to lure biting insects. Once mosquitoes approach the trap, a fan sucks them into a net. Mega-Catch also offers an optional combination lure that contains octenol as well as a lactic acid-based substance similar to Lurex. The most expensive model, the Mega-Catch Ultra (*Est. $575), includes an optional CO2 gas system (CO2 cylinders must be purchased separately).
Our previous Best Reviewed model, the Mega-Catch Premier MCP-800, has been discontinued and replaced with the Mega-Catch Premier MCP-900 (*Est. $200) and the Mega-Catch Premier XC MCP-900XC (*Est. $325). Both new models have a feature that protects the machine from power surges and brownout; both also have fan overload detection, which automatically stops the fan in case of jams or blockages. The MCP-900 covers a smaller area (about .75 of an acre) and costs about $50 less. The MCP-900XC adds customizable settings and can be outfitted to release carbon dioxide (kit sold separately). These models are too new to have accumulated an appreciable number of user reviews, however.
Although we found no comparative reviews of mosquito traps in consumer publications, there are a number of excellent studies by professional organizations and government agencies that compare multiple models and shed light on the best types and technologies. These include Florida A&M University (click on PDF titled "2010 AMCA"); Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association; Journal of Medical Entomology; and the United States Department of Agriculture. In addition, user reviews on retail websites such as Amazon.com and HomeDepot.com provide helpful information about how traps perform over time.