Can a mosquito trap solve your problems?

Mosquito traps use a variety of methods to attract mosquitoes (and most use more than one, since different species respond to different attractants), luring them into a collection bag or vacuum. While a mosquito trap can help cut down the population in a heavily infested area, they aren't a complete solution; while they might make your back yard habitable, they won't eliminate those biting insects entirely.

Your costs aren't limited to the price of the unit itself; you need to refill a propane tank (with some models), replace or refill chemical attractants, buy new collection bags, and keep the unit running 24/7 for the best results.

Other types of devices that claim to control mosquitoes do not work as well, experts say. Electronic devices that repel mosquitoes by emitting high-frequency sounds are considered ineffective by reviewers, as are citrosa plants (sometimes called citrosa geraniums or citronella plants). Studies have also shown that electric bug zappers kill mostly beneficial insects, such as beetles and moths, rather than mosquitoes. Similarly, bug foggers are less discriminating than traps, may contain dangerous chemicals and do not kill mosquito eggs. So if you need a larger solution for combating lots of mosquitoes, a trap is the most effective of these options.

If you're considering a mosquito trap purchase, keep the following points in mind:

  • Traps work best for small areas. One trap, experts say, may not do the trick for a large area that is heavily infested. For areas larger than an acre, you'll likely need multiple traps.
  • Placement of mosquito traps is key. The prevailing breeze should carry the CO2 gas plume and attractant odors across the yard to lure mosquitoes. Because wind speed and direction change, however, some owners recommend using multiple traps and placing them in different corners of the area they want to cover.
  • Traps won't solve your whole problem. You'll still need to apply repellent, wear protective clothing and eliminate standing water where mosquitoes may breed.
  • For a less invasive approach, try larvicides. Larvicides, such as Mosquito Dunks from Summit Chemical Company (*Est. $20), can be dissolved into any body of water in your yard, such as an ornamental fish pond or bird bath. They contain bacteria that kill mosquito eggs before they hatch, but are not harmful to humans, fish or other animals.
  • Introduce predators that feed on mosquitoes, such as bats or dragonflies. Dragonfly nymphs can be purchased from companies that specialize in selling insects and animals to schools. According to Bat Conservation International, a single bat can capture 500 to 1,000 mosquitoes in a single hour. However, experts note that bats eat many kinds of insects, not just mosquitoes.
  • Don't use mosquito traps indoors. Mosquito traps use electricity, propane and/or chemicals, so they should be used outdoors and out of reach of children. An exception is the Stinger MA06 Indoor Mosquito Trap (*Est. $30), which is for indoor use only. However, it earns only mediocre scores from users at Amazon.com.

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