Choose the Best Mosquito Trap

Mosquitoes don't just ruin a good time; they are a health hazard. Awareness of mosquito-borne illness is on the rise, and you may be worried that insect repellents alone may be insufficient to protect you and your family, especially in your own backyard. A mosquito trap might be the answer. It's a device that eliminates mosquitoes rather than simply repelling them. Ask a few questions and you'll find the best mosquito trap for you.

How Mosquito Traps Work
Rather than keeping mosquitoes away from an area and the people in it, mosquito traps work by attracting the pests to the area and then killing them. Mosquito traps emit a combination of carbon dioxide, usually generated from a replaceable propane tank, and octenol (a chemical attractant) that lures mosquitoes, who mistake the scent of the two substances for human breath.

A plume of carbon dioxide and octenol is slowly released into the air, mimicking human exhalation. The blood-seeking mosquito follows the scent and gets lured into the mosquito trap, where it meets its end with a vacuum, fan, electric grid or adhesive surface. The female mosquitoes die off, no more eggs are laid, and the breeding cycle of the local mosquito population is interrupted (and eventually halted), resulting in a mosquito-free outdoor environment for you to enjoy.

Don't expect immediate results from a mosquito trap. It takes about 7 to 10 days for a mosquito trap to thin out an established population. During that time, you'll need to rely on mosquito repellants for maximum protection. If you see fewer mosquitoes around and you're catching fewer in the mosquito trap, you know you're winning the battle.

Size, Power and Placement
Most mosquito traps treat areas up to half an acre in size. If your property is larger than half an acre, you should consider buying more than one mosquito trap. Some mosquito traps are entirely self-contained and generate their power from propane, which allows you to place them anywhere on your property; an appealing feature for those with large yards to cover. These propane-powered mosquito traps are at the higher end of the price range due to the high cost of the thermoelectric generators that power the intake fans.
A tank of propane will last about 700 running hours-roughly one month of constant use-before needing to be refilled at an added cost. Mosquito traps that run on electrical current don't consume propane as quickly, but the length of extension cords limits their placement.  

Ideally, mosquito traps should be placed 30 to 40 feet away from areas where people will be, but you may find it more effective to place the trap near a pond or wet area where mosquitoes breed. To maximize the effectiveness of a mosquito trap, it should be placed in a shady area between the feeding area (where people gather) and the breeding area on open, unobstructed ground. It will then capture the mosquitoes before they get to you.

Keep in mind that there are over 175 species of mosquitoes in the United States, and mosquito traps are more effective in attracting some species than others. Some mosquitoes will fly as far as 10 miles for a meal, though most species tend to stick close to the watery areas they use for breeding.

Trapping Methods
Few people are concerned with the humane removal of mosquitoes, so the type of trap you choose is a matter of ease of use. Adhesive traps require no additional power, but they can be messy and need to be replaced often for maximum effectiveness. Electric grids are the most reliable, but require extra power.

Most mosquito traps use a vacuum that pulls mosquitoes into a net. The vacuums are effective, but you'll need to make sure it provides enough suction to get the job done.

Mosquito Trap Maintenance
Although mosquito traps do not need your constant attention, there is some maintenance involved.  Besides making sure your mosquito trap is being supplied with power, you will need to make sure that propane and octenol is properly supplied and that fans are turning and clear of debris. Depending on which type of trap your model uses, you'll need to empty the net, replace the adhesive board or clean the electric grid.

Take advantage of routine maintenance to evaluate the performance of your mosquito trap. If you're seeing fewer mosquitoes in the trap but you're still getting bitten, it's a sign that the CO2 or octenol levels are insufficient, or that the lure isn't being released at the right temperature. 

You'll also get better results with a mosquito trap if you reduce breeding sources around your property. Keep swimming pools clean and change the water in wading pools once a week. For ornamental ponds, consider an aerating water pump that will create enough water current to discourage mosquitoes from breeding.

Added Advice
The American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) reports that the science behind mosquito traps is solid and that mosquito traps perform "very well" in scientific trials. How well a mosquito trap performs in your yard is a question of proper maintenance, the number of mosquito sources and the species of mosquitoes that plagues you.

It's best to be skeptical of the "independent" or "scientific" reviews that you'll find online, especially if they're provided by a mosquito trap manufacturer or authorized dealer. Few of these mosquito trap studies have been independently verified. To the industry's credit, it's obsessed with building a better mosquito trap, and underperforming traps tend to be quickly discontinued.

User reviews of mosquito traps can be helpful, but make sure to read reviews from people who live in your state or near your home, as they're likely dealing with the same species of mosquito that you have.

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