Mosquito Trap Tips
USDA research entomologist Dr Dan Kline, who regularly tests and conducts studies on traps, cites operator error as a major contributor to impaired mosquito trap performance. “It’s important that people read and follow the owner’s manual.” says Kline “Trap Placement is a big issue – you need to keep the trap out of the immediate area where people gather, and try to put it between the people and the source of the mosquitoes.”
1. Work out what you need
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 on the box. 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, patios and gardens.
Field tests carried out by EnviroSafe Technologies with Mega-Catch™ mosquito traps in Cairns, Australia, trialed a strategy called the ‘Defensive Line’. A line of traps were set out at 20 meter intervals with immediate and startling results. The company reported thousands of mosquitoes caught and killed in a single night.
2. Educate your neighbors
Include your neighbors – the more traps in your street the better. We know 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.
Some of the main brands 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.
4. Reduce Running Costs
Electric traps that operate on a 12 volt system are very economical to run – typically consuming less power than a 40 watt light bulb. Propane traps are more expensive to run. You can easily go through a tank of propane every 3-4 weeks and refills are expensive. You can reduce running costs with traps that have programmable timers as they can be set to come on during peak mosquito hours. If you trap doesn’t have one, buy a plug in timer.
5. 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.
6. Increase Capture Rates
Different mosquito species respond in different ways and there are so many variations in their behaviors and in the things that attract and repel them. The use of Octenol lures in traps can significantly increase catch and kill rates for some species. Other species, however may not be overly attracted, so experimentation is needed to work out the best method. New combination lures like the Mega-Catch™ 3000 have been specially formulated to attract a wider range of mosquito species, including the Asian Tiger – an aggressive and hard to catch daytime biter.
7. Patience and Experimentation
Catching mosquitoes can be 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. 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.
Once the temperature is consistently below 50°F, mosquitoes are in hibernation for the winter, and you can safely shut down and store your trap. For a trouble-free start to the next season, most manufacturers recommend disconnecting the power, turning off the gas (if applicable) and storing the gas cylinder and trap in a weatherproof environment.