If you are one of those genetically susceptible mosquito magnets, have a severe allergic reaction to mosquito bites or live in an area where mosquito-borne diseases like West Nile Virus, Dengue Fever, Chikungunya, Zika virus or Encephalitis are prevalent, then deploying a mosquito trap to catch and kill mosquitoes is probably a sound investment.
The complete opposite of repellents; a mosquito trap works by attracting, trapping, then killing female mosquitoes. And when placed strategically near known breeding sites, “they have knocked mosquito populations down,” reports AMCA technical adviser Joseph Conlon (WebMD, July 28, 2009).
With all the mosquito traps on the market today however, it’s a mind-boggling task deciding which make, model or size to choose. If you are considering buying a mosquito trap, then thanks to the global reach of the Internet, you can readily compare mosquito traps, access published test results and customer feedback from around the world.
To help work out the mosquito trap best suited to your needs, here’s a few things you need to consider when setting out to buy a trap:
- How Many Traps?
Depending on the size of your property, and the number and location of mosquito breeding sites, you may need more than one trap. And remember size does count! Trap size that is. Check out the manufacturers recommended coverage area. The bigger, more expensive machines usually have a greater coverage area (up to 1.5 acres) in contrast to the smaller traps which are designed for use in small yards.
- Do you need CO2 to attract mosquitoes?
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is a known mosquito attractant and has been used in commercial mosquito traps since the 1990’s. Some species are more attracted to CO2 (Aedes) than others. Unlike conventional mosquito traps that require the combustion of propane, a non-renewable fossil fuel, to produce CO2, Mega-Catch’s™ patented Variable Quantity Slow Gas Release System utilizes pure CO2. While Mega-Catch™ Traps don’t need CO2 to attract mosquitoes, use of the optional CO2Gas Attractant System can increase the capture rates of a wider range of mosquito species by as much as 300 to 400 per cent. The Ultra trap comes CO2 ready and only requires hooking up to a CO2 cylinder (sold separately). An optional upgrade kit (sold separately) converts or ‘transforms’ the Premier XC to top of the line ULTRA trap specifications, making it Carbon Dioxide (CO2) ) capable.
Some of the main brands like Mosquito Magnet, Flowtron and Koolatron use propane to generate CO2, heat and moisture to attract mosquitoes. Care is needed around these traps because of the potential fire hazard from leaking propane. Coleman had to recall over 130,000 traps in 2003 because of a potential fire hazard. Propane free CO2 systems are considerably safer to use, especially around pets and small children. Pure CO2 is used extensively in the beverage industry to carbonate, or put bubbles into, sodas, beers and sparkling mineral waters. It is also used in hospitals as an additive to oxygen for medical use as a respiration stimulant.
- Operating Costs
Electric traps that operate on a 12 volt system are probably the most economical to run – typically consuming less power than a 40 watt light bulb. Propane traps are considerably more expensive to run as they can use up a tank of propane every 3-4 weeks – and refills are expensive. You can reduce running costs with traps that have programmable timers set to come on during peak mosquito hours. If your trap doesn’t have one, a plug in timer purchased from your local hardware store will work just as well.
Once you have decided on the right trap for your yard, make sure you get the placement right. Trap location can have a significant impact on capture rates, with many studies showing catch rates in shade or partial shade were over three times higher than those in areas exposed to the sun. That’s why it’s important to set up your mosquito trap using the positioning rules as a guide. Other Trap tips:
- When to Start
Most traps will begin to catch immediately there is any mosquito activity in the vicinity; however it may take 6-8 weeks of continuous use to reduce local populations to the point that breeding cycles are interrupted. So don’t set up your new trap on the eve of an outdoor party or BBQ and expect it to keep the mosquitoes away from your guests. Instead plan ahead, and operate the trap for several weeks in advance of outdoor social occasions.
- Patience and Experimentation
If your catch rate is low, try out a different location as mosquito breeding sites can vary during the season. Most mosquito species avoid direct sunlight: shaded, sheltered areas – preferably amongst bushes or shrubs and near any wetland areas are ideal sites. Catching mosquitoes is often compared to fishing; everyone can do it, but those who are prepared to take the time to experiment and learn about the targeted species will always achieve the best results
- Educate your neighbors
Include your neighbors – the more traps in your street the better. It’s well known that mosquitoes will travel to get blood. There are over 3,500 mosquito species worldwide. Your yard could harbor as many as 30 different species while your neighbor’s yard 300 feet away might have completely different species.
- Get rid of mosquito breeding sites around the home. These include old tires, bird baths, buckets, pot plant bases, tin cans and plastic containers, water gardens and decorative ponds (without fish), untended swimming pools, recycling bins, trash can lids, wheelbarrows and even hollow plant stems and flowers like bromeliads. Anything that holds water is a potential mosquito nursery!
- Keep grass mown, bushes trimmed and debris out of the gutters throughout the mosquito season. These measures will eliminate some of the most popular mosquito roosting places so you can reclaim your yard!
- Eliminate standing water in low spots, ditches and other areas.
- Light colored clothing is less attractive to some mosquito species and if tightly woven, can give some protection against biting. Wearing long sleeves and long pants during the hours when mosquitoes are most active will give added defense.
- Use screens and mosquito netting to provide skeeter-free zones in and around the home.
- Use insect repellents. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the most effective repellents to use contain one of the following EPA registered active ingredients: DEET (N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide), Picaridin (KBR3023) IR3535 and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (p-menthane 3,8-diol).