There is nothing more satisfying than the sound of a bug zapper incinerating pests that would otherwise be sucking your blood and potentially spreading diseases. When it comes to getting rid of pests both indoors and outdoors you have a lot of options. You could use sprays or repellents, but many of them use harsh chemicals and leave an unpleasant odor.
You could also spend all day hunting them down with those flimsy handheld electrified tennis rackets or you could try smashing them like a ninja. But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pesky insects is investing in a handy-dandy electrical discharge insect control system, AKA bug zapper!
Patented in 1932, these bad boys have been seen in nearly every 80s and 90s suspense horror film, but do they actually work? Is a bug zapper an economically friendly insect repellent solution? Where can you buy one and how do you choose which zapper is best? Before we get started, though, I’d like to answer the question that is on most new pest crusader’s minds.
Do bug zappers work?
The simple answer is yes, bug zappers have been effective since their inception and have likely killed trillions of those pesky flying demons, however, how effective they are will likely hinge on your decision-making process when purchasing one. There are several different models available to choose from all with a wide array of features and focuses that could make or break your bug zapping effectiveness. Getting the correct zapping system for your situation is key to effectively protecting you from blood-sucking insects and potentially disease-ridden critters.
In this guide, we’ll discuss how to choose the perfect zapping system for you and get down with the nitty-gritty science behind these electronic insect death machines. After we understand bug zappers and how to choose a good fit, we’ll talk about where to find bargains on these bad boys!
Electrifying Buying Guide
In this guide, I have searched the market to find you the best bug zapping products available to date. I will order them by price and each one will have a specific use along with a quick overview and review!
Here are the Best Bug Zappers – Updated to 2023
1. Flowtron Electronic Outdoor Bug Zapper (Best Value)
Estimated Price: $45
I put some good other good bug zappers on this that are more portable and good for camping, but as far as a stationary bug zapper for outdoor use this is the best.
In my opinion, for the money, this is the best outdoor bug zapper on the market right now.It has a patented no-clog killing grip and a 15-watt high-intensity ultraviolet bulb that is perfect for frying flying pests. For just pennies a day you can say goodbye to mosquitoes, moths, flies, and other flying pests!
- Cost effective
- Waterproof makes cleaning and using outdoors a great experience
- Weatherproof – makes get great for outdoors
- Attracts bugs and mosquitos
- 15W Ultraviolet bulb
- USDA tested Octenol attraction proven to attract mosquitoes
- Easy to replace bulb
- Maintenance free
- Low cost of operation
2. Flowtron FC-8800 Diplomat (Editor’s Choice)
Estimated Price: $322
If you are looking for best in class performance and you don’t have a restrictive budget, this is the zapper to get.
The Flowtron Diplomat holds nothing back and you can be sure that any insect that comes near it will be fried to the max.
This thing will actually cause significant damage to the bug population in your area with its massive 1-mile attracting potential and certain death zapping capabilities.
This bug zapper is like the insect death star.
- Has a very consumer-focused design almost like they took all of the complaints from other zappers and fixed them
- Waterproof makes cleaning and using outdoors a great experience
- One of the most powerful zappers available
- AC Powered grids that generate up to 5600 volts at 2.4 amps
- 2000 sqft of coverage with a triple high-intensity UV light system
- Mounts both vertically and horizontally
- 67” power cord which is much longer than most other bug zappers provide
3. Aspectek 20W Electronic Indoor Bug Zapper
Estimated Price: $44
Product Type: Box Style Bug Zapper.
This bug zapper is one of the best on the list and delivers on its bug slaying capabilities.
As far as complaints go, I simply just think the placement and length of the power cord should have been rethought.
The cord is only 3.5ft long which makes hanging or mounting this unit require an extension cord.
Secondly, the power cord exits the unit out of the top which is a bit awkward when mounting and makes the length even worse of a problem. Aside from that, the unit works just as advertised and doesn’t look horrible while doing it. This particular item on Amazon comes with 2 bulbs to get you started and a free replacement set of bulbs as well, which tend to last roughly 2500 hours. All in all, this is a pretty great bug zapper to use on a porch or just about anywhere indoors.
- 20W power grid
- Waterproof makes cleaning and using outdoors a great experience
- Dual UV light insect attractor
- Four bulbs included
- 20w is the preferred power level for optimum bug zapping and that’s what this unit is
- Hang or place just about anywhere indoors
- Safety screen so pets and children can’t touch the electric mesh
- Wall hang via included chain and hook mount
- Removable plastic tray
4. Zap-It Electric Bug Zapping Racket
Zapper Type: Bug Zapper Racket.
This is a little different than the traditional ideology of a bug zapper and takes on a more hands-on approach.
Using this seemingly electrified tennis racket styled zapper you’ll be swinging away at every pest you identify. These are perfect if you have an intermittent problem with flying insects and don’t need constant automatic zapping.
These can appear as a toy to small children so you’ll certainly want to keep this out of reach for the little ones. Overall, at $20 it’s a bargain and it does the job, so long as you’re an accurate swinger!
- Simple yet effective
- Helps hone up those swinging skills
- Powered by 2 AA batteries which are included
- Two sizes available
- 3 layer grid
- Tennis racket design
5. Camping Lantern Bug Zapper
This is the best bug zapper for camping and traveling. No, it isn’t as good as a full bug zapping system, but it is perfect for backpackers and campers with its small and compact design.
A waterproof bug zapper at this price is difficult to find and as an added bonus, it has a fantastic battery life and light illumination.
I have personally had one of these for several years and I love it! It’s taken some bumps and bruises along the way but still works and I’ve all but fully submersed it and still, it continues lighting up my campground area and zapping skeeters.
6. GLOUE Bug Zapper Light Bulb
Best For: Light and zapping bugs around the house.
These are both a light bulb and a bug zapper. They are not going to completely rid your house of any and all bugs, but they are great dual usage little devices and it certainly doesn’t hurt to put them up in place of regular light bulbs.
For me, I bought a pair, threw them up, and forgot about them.
They do kill bugs but not nearly as well as a standalone bug zapping unit. This didn’t upset me, though, as they work great as regular light bulbs too and the multi-mode use was pretty cool. All in all, I think these are great little multi-usage light bulbs and if you have a very minor bug issue that you don’t want to spend a bunch of money on a standalone bug zapper for, these might just do the job for you!
- One of the lowest energy consuming insect killers on the market
- Fits in any standard light bulb socket and has just as much light as a typical light bulb
- 1200 lumen LED light bulb design
- 3 lighting modes
- Eco-friendly non-toxic
- Energy-saving design that operates on 15W
- 50,000-hour lifespan
7. Micnaron Indoor Bug Zapper
Product Type: Wall Mounted Bug Zapper.
This is by far one of my favorite designs. Most people that see it don’t even recognize what it’s for!
It seems to be much quieter, even when zapping, than most other bug zappers in this price range and I thoroughly enjoy the wall-mounted design.
It’s easy to mount with an included metal bracket and has a handy little chain to turn it off and on, although I typically just leave it on 24/7.
The light does well to attract bugs but is situated in a way that isn’t distracting or annoying to people in the house. As the instructions claim, you’ll need to add insect attractant to the tray for this to work at maximum potential. You can find little pods that are super cheap all over Amazon or just add something yourself like a piece of fruit.
- Fantastic modern design
- Nearly silent
- Wall mount box design
- 1000V high voltage charged metal grids
- Nice modern appearance
- Pull chain on/off switch
- ABS flame retardant material
- Attractant container
- Offers 500 square ft protection
8. Indoor Bug and Mosquito Zapper
Zapper type: Wall Plug Bug Zapper.
As technology improves, these little wall plug-in devices are becoming preferred to full-blown bug zapping units.
These aren’t ultra-powerful, and they won’t clear out your entire house flawlessly, but they do work well to keep annoying gnats and flies away from you in the room they are in.
Plug it in, choose whether you want it on during the night or 24hrs and forget about it. Well, almost forget about it, as you’ll need to clean it every so often.
- Super small wall plug-in design. Plug and forget!
- Blue UV lights that are strong enough to attract bugs but soft enough to use as a night light
- Cordless wall plug-in design that is compact and lightweight
- 215 sq ft coverage
- 4 UV LED lights
- Two modes including night only and 24-hour modes
- Eco-friendly and chemical-free
- Fire-resistant materials
- Comes with a cleaning brush
Related Article: How to Get Rid of No-See-Ums
9. Toloco Indoor Bug Trapper
Product type: Electric-Mosquito-Killer-Lamp-Trap.
The Tolono indoor bug trapper is a great way to catch mosquitos inside the house. It is powered with just 5 Watts and has a 4-foot power cord. The light and temperature attract the mosquitoes where they are sucked into the trap. The Dynatrap DT1050 is a similar technology insect trap that is used for outdoor use.
10. Outdoor Bug Zapper
Product type: General Use Corded Bug Zapper.
It’s not waterproof so it’s likely not suitable for outdoor use, but it is a great indoor system. Just hook it on to something, plug it in, and let it do its job.
Every so often you should check the tray and clean it out and that’s it, your home will be insect-free within a couple of hours! This particular system also utilizes a blacklight instead of a harsh and bright blue light, making it suitable for use as a nightlight.
- Small, lightweight, cheap, and effective! Checks all the boxes
- Quiet operation
- 1000v high voltage zapping grids
- Lightweight ABS plastic construction
- Blacklight bug attractant
- 365NM wavelength
- Insect tray collector
- Quiet enough not to disturb you while sleeping
- Comes with a mounting hook
Related Article: Best Bug Spray for Babies and Kids
The Science Behind Bug Zappers
If you’re not an electrician or engineer, bug zappers may seem complex if you’ve never worked with electricity or have an understanding of electrical current. Luckily, for us and all of our readers, these systems are actually quite easy to visualize and understand! First and foremost, in an electrical system there is the power source, where the electricity is originating from, and a ground which is where the electricity is going to complete its circuit. Keep in mind, electricity
A bug zapper utilizes basic diodes and capacitors that will amplify a high voltage power supply and send it through two grids of wire mesh. This voltage is typically around 2000 volts and the mesh grids are roughly 2mm apart which is enough space to ensure the electricity doesn’t jump between the two.
To attract pesky pests, a bright fluorescent light bulb that emits UV light is encased inside. This UV light attracts bugs by emulating a similar pattern in that produced by flowers, even up to several hundred yards away, and lures them to their unsuspecting vaporization. Once the bug enters the area, it will fill space between the two mesh wire grids, thus creating a bridge for electricity to flow through one grid to the other. This, of course, fries our flying fiends in the process.
That iconic zapping noise is the sound the electronic system makes when electricity is jumping between the two wires and is what signifies that the circuit was closed and then reopened again.
Bug Zappers Light and Scent
Some people may claim that bug zappers don’t work because despite sitting near one, they still received mosquito bites!
The science behind bug zappers has come a long way although the basic design of the actual system hasn’t changed much. With that said, there is one addition that has changed the game drastically and that is the addition of carbon dioxide emitting bug zappers. This is an important feature because most insects that bite are more drawn to the scent of carbon dioxide, which is what humans and animals breathe out. Since biting insects will likely be the primary focus of most bug zapper consumers, finding a zapper that lures bugs using both UV light and carbon dioxide is of utmost importance.
How to Choose a Bug Zapper
Unfortunately, not all bug zappers are created equal and, in most situations, you’ll either have to purchase a few different zappers or compromise.
First and foremost, in choosing a bug zapper you’ll need to decide whether it’ll be used indoors or outdoors. There is a pretty vast difference in the two and I wouldn’t recommend trying to use one designed for either or as a catch-all solution. A huge difference in the two usually entails whether or not the unit is waterproof and how durable the unit is as a whole.
Bug Zappers also generally come with a “range”. This is essentially how far away the zapper that bugs can still become lured in by the light or attractants. It’s important to decide how much range you actually need because units with a longer range are generally going to require more electricity, which makes operating costs higher and possibly unnecessary.
After you’ve decided if the unit you need is an outdoor or indoor based unit, you’ll need to consider which bugs you’re aiming your zap cannon at. I think it’s safe to say that most people would like to zap mosquitoes as those tend to be among the most annoying bugs. Using a UV light does work, however, mosquitoes are designed to be attracted by sweat and breath. As we spoke about briefly before, using UV light alone may only be partially effective. Bug Zapping manufacturers know this of course and have created many different solutions to this problem. There are pheromone lures, carbon dioxide emitters, and also combination lure models that aim to zap all of those pesky flying blood vampires.
Power and Shape of Bug Zappers
Another thing to consider when shopping bug zappers are the power source. Believe it or not, you can actually get cordless and rechargeable bug zappers that enable you to travel and change the location easily. These, of course, come with limited battery life and typically aren’t as powerful as socket plug-in type bug zappers so you’ll need to think about how your relationship with these products will unfold. If plugging it in on the porch and then forgetting about it, allowing to do its job in peace is your ideal situation, getting a corded unit will likely much better suit your needs. If going camping is something that you fancy, and you know ahead of time that you won’t have access to a power source, a battery-operated bug zapper will most certainly be of better use to you.
Finally, you’ll be forced to choose between a size and a shape. Naturally, the larger a zapper is, the further range and effectiveness it’ll have, but it will also send pest parts flying further and require more energy consumption.
The shape of the zapper also plays an important role in its usage. Two main options are presented here in the form of a box style and vertical style. Usually, box style zappers are to be set on the floor and are almost always indoor zappers. Cylinder or just vertically shaped zappers are much easier to design for waterproofing and are typically suspended on a pole or from a roof.
Related Article: How to Get Rid of Spiders
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Implement a Bug Zapper?
Of course, we probably all know how annoying mosquito and fly bites can be, and aside from using harmful chemicals, there’s really not much else you can do to defend against them outside of buying a bug zapper. Besides the annoyance factor, though, these pests do pose a real and dangerous threat by spreading harmful diseases and bacteria. Things like the West Nile virus are almost exclusively passed on to humans via mosquito bites and could potentially be fatal. Using a bug zapper to eradicate the pests in your environment can greatly reduce the risk of contracting diseases from these pesky skeeters and may even save your life!
Bug zappers are almost always incredibly easy to use and relatively safe for pets and people. Most of them come with a protective grid that is plenty large enough for insects but leaves no room for larger animals and people to touch the electrified bug zapping components. On top of ease of use and effectiveness, bug zappers are generally affordable, and most will range in the $15 to $60 range.
Due to new advancements in light bulbs, the LEDs used as an attractant draw less power than ever before and likely won’t impact your electric bill significantly. Some of you may even find the light to be functional additions to the lighting of your house and/or property!
Can a Bug Zapper Cause Damage to Things You Don’t Want to Zap?
You may be wondering if a bug zapper could harm a human or even a pet.
The short answer is no!
The long answer is that bug zapper impedance and power supplies are set to a level that will not cause any significant damage to anything larger than small insects. Typically, the wire mesh will be protected behind plastic and arranged in a way that makes it difficult for contact with large things. Even if you do accidentally touch something electrically charged in a bug zapper, you will feel nothing but a slight discomforting tingle and nothing more.
I will warn you, however, that utilizing a bug zapper for pesky biting insects like mosquitoes is certainly effective but is also effective in killing harmless insects that may not be bothersome to you and even may be beneficial to have around. There is no way for the bug zapper to discriminate between which insects it vaporizes and which it doesn’t so keep in mind that you are likely sending innocent insects to the electric chair!
What Happens to the Bug When it’s Zapped?
As barbaric as it sounds, zapping a bug is one of the least barbaric methods of getting rid of pests. This design works a lot like the electric chair which has been used to execute heinous criminals for many years due to its instant death design. The bug likely feels nothing as its instantly incinerated by the voltage coursing through the metal grids.
There are a few different bug zapper designs but most of them are designed to either allow the bug remains to drop to the ground or be contained in a tray underneath the zapper. Despite tray designs aiming to make clean up easy, bugs that are zapped can sometimes explode and just like humans, bugs contain liquid inside them which is vaporized and doesn’t always fall directly downward into the tray.
Without trying to gross you out too much, what I’m trying to tell you is that in the event of a bug being vaporized by a bug zapper, there is a chance that parts of said unlucky pest will be sent flying away from the tray and the liquids that were inside can float several meters away from the zapper. In the world of bugs, this is called “scattering”. This means that you shouldn’t ever place a bug zapper anywhere near where you’ll be preparing food.
FDA Bug Zapper Claim
The US Food and Drug Administration even advise this and claim that the air around a bug zapper can become contaminated with bacteria and viruses that the bugs were holding. This contaminated air can even be inhaled so placing your bug zapper away from where humans will likely be spending lots of time near is probably a good idea.
You may be thinking by now that if you can’t place a bug zapper near you that it may not do you any good. The truth is, with how bug zappers are designed, placing them several yards away still allows them to do their job just as good. The UV light emitted from the zapper is plenty powerful enough to lure bugs and by placing the zapper away from humans and food, you will be just fine!
Conclusion on Bug Zappers
Choosing a bug zapper can definitely be a little difficult due to the plethora of available options. I hope that reading this guide (updated to 2023) has alleviated the majority of your questions and concerns and puts you one step closer to finding a bug zapping system that works for you!
There are new products released in this niche often so if something new comes out that we’ve missed, don’t hesitate to throw it up in the comments section! Also, if something is working well for you, share the wealth and let us all know!
Related Article: How to Get Rid of Stink Bugs
My name is Blane and I’m a life-long resident of Southeastern Louisiana. I’ve been working as Pest Control Technician and Inspector for about 1.5 years now.
I’ve worked in many other industries as well, including consulting, managing, as well as at the ground level in fields including Food Service, Corporate Automotive sales, and finance. Whether it be providing counsel, content, or hands-on support; my goal remains to add value to the lives of the people I serve.
If you have any questions regarding pest control, leave them below. I would be happy to help you out in any way I can.