These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (2024)

These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (1)

Gear-obsessed editors choose every product we review. We may earn commission if you buy from a link. Why Trust Us?

The advent of summer means more late night barbecues and pool parties, but that also means more bugs. And, there’s one thing that almost everyone can agree on: Getting targeted by an invasion of stinging, chomping insects really bites (pun intended). Without a bug zapper to mitigate the flies and mosquitos, your relaxing evening on the deck can quickly turn into a feast for pests that want to munch on your family, guests, or that slab of juicy watermelon.

Bug zappers can help rid your yard of mosquitos and other bugs—which can be as dangerous as they are annoying. Mosquitoes carry diseases such as West Nile virus. Many people also have allergic reactions to bites, ranging from irritating rashes to severe medical emergencies.

There are tons of bug zappers available, from those designed for indoor use to those that double as outdoor lights. We’ve laid out some things to keep in mind when looking for your own insect management, and rounded up the best bug zappers we recommend for the summer and all year round.

Editors’ note 8/30/23: We updated the language in this story to reflect that no bug zapper alone can clear your yard of mosquitoes or other bugs. To deter them fully, consider netting, citronella candles, and other additional remedies like we lay out in the section on Coverage Area below.

The Best Bug Zappers

What to Consider

Bug zappers emit an ultraviolet light that attracts small flying insects, then zaps them with a fatal shock when they get too close. Some people find the sight or sound of insects getting zapped distracting, annoying, or even distressing—but these devices do work. With that said, there are a couple of factors we recommend considering when buying bug zappers.

Location

Before purchasing a bug zapper, it is important to keep in mind where you plan on putting it. You might want to set up your bug zapper in a strategic location near enough to your gathering area to help protect your space at a distance that keeps the sound and sights from bothering you. Remember, the point is to establish a peaceful, relaxing, annoyance-free haven.

Bug zappers differ depending on whether they’re made for indoor or outdoor spaces. Most bug zappers designed for indoor use contain a tray that collects the dead bugs. Bug zappers designed for outdoor use are not as likely to contain these trays. You might also need an extension cord, even for patio or deck settings, as some products have short cords.

Coverage Area

For maximum insect protection, we recommend fighting pests on several fronts. In addition to a bug zapper, use insect repellent or an insect-repelling device and a citronella candle close to where people congregate. Ideally, you can also create an enclosed space, like a gazebo, protected by netting or other material.

Insect Type

Not all bug zappers are designed to rid of the same kind of insects. If you’re trying to manage mosquitos, make sure to purchase a zapper that specializes in exterminating them. If you’re having an issue with an influx of ants, make sure the bug zapper you purchase is equipped to get rid of them permanently.

We’ve detailed which zappers are intended for which insects to help you find the right fit for your property.

How We Evaluated

Bobbi Dempsey, the original author of this guide, owned a construction business in a rural area for more than a decade, where she used bug zappers to manage mosquitos at job sites near creeks and ponds. She has tested several zappers and determined which features are most important. She’s most familiar with lantern and hanging light bug zappers. Jenna Clark, who updated this guide, researched other zappers, including past Popular Mechanics insect device testing.

We took into account the zappers’ coverage areas, power sources, and energy-efficiency to find the best. We also investigated how the devices handle dead bugs, and made sure to include products that’ll work in various environments and settings.

1

Best Overall

Black Flag 5,500-Volt Deluxe Bug Zapper

These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (12)

These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (13)

1

Best Overall

Black Flag 5,500-Volt Deluxe Bug Zapper

Now 13% Off

Pros
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (14)Trusted, well-known brand
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (15)Safety guard to protect kids and pets
Cons
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (16)Doesn’t always kill insects instantly according to reviews

When it comes to insect control, Black Flag is one of the most recognizable names—because its product work. The manufacturer recommends situating this unit at least 20 feet away from where you gather, but with a claimed coverage area of up to 1.5 acres, that doesn’t affect its performance.

Energy-efficient features include an LED light and a dusk-to-dawn sensor that turns the unit on during insect primetime. It’s relatively quiet, and the soft purple light adds some cool ambiance at night. Additionally, it has a clip-on lure that contains octenol, a chemical that attracts insects. Each lure cartridge lasts about a month.

Key Specs

Coverage AreaUp to 1.5 acres
Power SourceElectrical outlet
Ease of CleanupRelatively easy to clean with minimal mess

2

Best Budget

Livin' Well Indoor and Outdoor Bug Zapper

These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (17)

2

Best Budget

Livin' Well Indoor and Outdoor Bug Zapper

Pros
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (18)Easy to clean
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (19)Extensive coverage area
Cons
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (20)No on/off switch

Looking to zap bugs without a messy cleanup? This bug zapper is for you. All you have to do to clean it up is unscrew it and rinse the tray—it can’t get much easier than that.

And, this zapper is weather-proof so you don’t have to worry about rain breaking your trusty zapper. This device uses 4,000 volts of electricity and covers up to 1,500 square feet, so you can expect bugs in your vicinity to have a bad time.

Key Specs

Coverage Area1,500 sq. ft.
Power SourceElectric (via power cord)
Ease of CleanupVery easy; unscrew and rinse the tray

3

Best Value

Pic Mosquito Zapper with Octenol Lure

These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (21)

These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (22)

3

Best Value

Pic Mosquito Zapper with Octenol Lure

Now 16% Off

Pros
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (23)Doubles as a light and a zapper
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (24)Small and lightweight
Cons
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (25)Limited coverage area

This affordable option is even more impressive when you consider it does double duty as both a bug zapper and a decorative accent light. You can opt to use either or both functions, and the USB-rechargeable battery lasts up to seven hours. The accent light gives off a cool purple glow.

This zapper uses an octenol lure in addition to the UV LED light for dual insect-attracting power (lure cartridges last up to 30 days). This compact, portable unit can be used anywhere indoors or outside—great for an RV, office, or at a campsite.

Key Specs

Coverage AreaNot specified; given its minimal size, best for a small/enclosed area
Power SourceRechargeable battery
Ease of CleanupEasy; comes with a cleaning brush

Advertisem*nt - Continue Reading Below

4

Quietest

DynaTrap Half-Acre Mosquito and Insect Zapper

These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (26)

These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (27)

4

Quietest

DynaTrap Half-Acre Mosquito and Insect Zapper

Now 24% Off

Pros
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (28)Very quiet
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (29)Can be set up almost anywhere
Cons
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (30)Twist design may cause you to drop the lantern

Among the pricier of the models that we’ve evaluated, we recommend this zapper as it offers a stylish look and durable, high-quality construction. And, because it’s not technically a zapper, it’s almost totally silent, so it’s fine to put near seating.

Instead of electric shocks, it wipes out insects with a three-pronged approach: the warm UV light combines with a carbon-dioxide lure created by the specially coated surface to attract bugs, and then the built-in fan ensures that any insects that venture near the device will get drawn in and trapped until they die.

Key Specs

Coverage Area½ acre
Power SourceElectrical outlet
Ease of CleanupSimple; just twist off the collection basket and empty

5

Best for Indoors

Black & Decker Indoor Bug Zapper

These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (31)

5

Best for Indoors

Black & Decker Indoor Bug Zapper

Pros
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (32)Decent coverage area for an indoor model
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (33)Reliable high-quality construction
Cons
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (34)Reviewers say the zapping noise isn’t as quiet as they would like

This unit is designed for use indoors or in an enclosed or covered area outside. You get the durable high-quality construction you would expect from Black & Decker and reliable performance.

When using it indoors, we recommend positioning it away from windows at night, or you might discover a high volume of insects swarming around outside the glass or screen trying to figure out how to get to the light.

Key Specs

Coverage Area6,000 sq. ft.
Power SourceElectrical outlet
Ease of CleanupSimple; just empty the collection tray (cleaning brush included)

6

Best Solar-Powered

Westinghouse Solar Bug Lantern with Shepherd Hook

These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (35)

6

Best Solar-Powered

Westinghouse Solar Bug Lantern with Shepherd Hook

Pros
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (36)Solar-powered design for electric-free operation
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (37)Attractive decorative design with option to use white LED lightbulb
Cons
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (38)Small coverage area

This bug zapper has a classic look that can blend in with your outdoor decor. The fact that it’s solar-powered is a nice energy-efficient and earth-friendly feature.

It’s also versatile, as you can replace the purple UV light with the white LED light (both of which are included) when the seasons change and you only need a regular light.

Key Specs

Coverage Area15 sq. ft.
Power SourceSolar
Ease of CleanupRelatively easy, once you learn how to remove the lid

Advertisem*nt - Continue Reading Below

7

Best for Mosquitos

Flowtron BK-40DK Electronic Insect Zapper

These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (39)

These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (40)

7

Best for Mosquitos

Flowtron BK-40DK Electronic Insect Zapper

Now 58% Off

Pros
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (41)Large coverage area
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (42)Sturdy and weatherproof
Cons
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (43)Might be noisy

This bug zapper gets high marks from reviewers for its efficiency and reliability. The polycarbonate material is durable and weatherproof, so it’s great to use outdoors in a range of moderate to harsh climates. It might not be as quiet as some other models, but the large coverage area—and the optional cartridge of mosquito attractant that can boost its results—make this a popular choice.

Key Specs

Coverage Area1 acre
Power SourceElectrical outlet
Ease of CleanupRelatively easy; just empty the bottom tray

8

Best Aluminum Zapper

ASPECTEK Electronic Bug Zapper

These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (44)

These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (45)

8

Best Aluminum Zapper

ASPECTEK Electronic Bug Zapper

Now 21% Off

Pros
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (46)Simple installation
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (47)Mesh screen
Cons
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (48)Relatively heavy at about five pounds

If you’re looking for an aluminum bug zapper to use indoors, we recommend this 40 watt option from Aspectek. Although this zapper is on the heavier side weighing nearly five pounds, it’s worth the extra bit of elbow grease for its power.

Once moving it to the desired location, setup is a breeze. All you have to do is set it on a solid surface or attach the chain to its hooks. You can worry less about any little ones accidentally getting ahold of the zapper’s electrical grid (thanks to its mesh screen), or getting stung by mosquitos, gnats, flies, moths, or bees when this machine is in action.

Key Specs

Coverage Area1 acre
Power SourceElectrical outlet
Ease of CleanupRelatively easy using the removable plastic tray at the bottom

9

Best Handheld Option

Zap It! Bug Zapper Racket

These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (49)

These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (50)

9

Best Handheld Option

Zap It! Bug Zapper Racket

Now 31% Off

Pros
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (51)Great fly swatter alternative
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (52)Can use anywhere without need for a plug
Cons
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (53)Requires work—and relatively close contact with insects

If you would get some satisfaction out of personally destroying your insect foes, you might enjoy this option—but it should go without saying that to use this, you must be okay with letting insects invade your personal space before you eliminate them.

Like a high-tech version of a fly swatter, the Zap It! Bug Zapper requires some effort but allows you to pursue and safely dispatch unwanted pests, such as moths or stinging insects inside or outside your home. The electric swatter is also available in two smaller models: medium and mini.

Key Specs

Coverage AreaLimited to arm’s length
Power SourceRechargeable battery
Ease of CleanupModerate; this can create a bit of a mess

Advertisem*nt - Continue Reading Below

10

Best for Camping

Elechome Electric Solar Mosquito Killer

These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (54)

These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (55)

10

Best for Camping

Elechome Electric Solar Mosquito Killer

Now 51% Off

Pros
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (56)Lightweight
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (57)Three lighting modes
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (58)Portable
Cons
  • These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (59)Can only be charged with USB-C cable

This lightweight bug zapper should be added to your cart if you’re looking for a zapper that may also double as a night light. With three lighting modes (the bug zapper light, a white light, and a flashlight), there will never be a shortage of light when it’s turned on.

Plus, it can be recharged with a USB-C cable and lasts for up to 16 hours using the lighting mode when it’s fully charged. Whether you opt to hang this on a hook or keep it resting on a flat surface, you can rest assured bugs all around you will be zapped with its 360 degrees design.

Key Specs

Coverage Area½ acre or 2100 sq. ft.
Power SourceSolar (and rechargeable battery)
Ease of CleanupModerate; may be difficult if indoors as there is no tray

Tools to Create a Bug-Free Backyard, According to Expert Bobbi Dempsey

These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (60)

PM: What’s your preferred design for bug zappers?

B.D.: I tend to like the lantern-style models because they are versatile, offer more options for placement, and often have a decorative look that allows them to blend in discreetly. I’ve also used hanging light models and liked them fine. I’m not a huge fan of handheld models because they involve continuous effort and also require close contact with bugs.

PM: What’s one feature you always prioritize when searching for a new bug zappers?

B.D.: I prefer bug zappers that are as quiet as possible. I’m not a fan of loud zapping noises. Unfortunately, it can be tough to gauge exactly how loud a bug zapper is until you actually use it. This is another reason why I appreciate bug zappers with a large coverage area—that way, you can set it up far from where you’ll be gathering, so the noise won’t be as much of an issue.

PM: What other products do you rely on for warding off bugs?

B.D.: I’m not a fan of harsh chemicals or toxic materials in general, so I try to opt for natural pest repellents whenever possible. I use citronella candles and essential oils such as peppermint. When using bug sprays and similar pesticides, I look for products made from plant-based ingredients. I also use diatomaceous earth as an effective, long-acting way to kill any insects that might get inside the home or garage.

These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (61)

Jenna Clark

Contributor

Jenna Clark is a freelance writer who covers commerce, travel, beauty, and lifestyle. Her work has been featured in Insider, the Daily Beast, Well+Good, and Taste of Home. When she's not reviewing the latest products or traveling, you can likely find her at a theme park or watching the latest Broadway show.

These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (62)

Bobbi Dempsey

Bobbi Dempsey is the former owner of a construction and property maintenance business and a die-hard DIYer whose main project these days is her 100-plus-year-old home that’s a never-ending series of home improvement challenges and adventures; she has written reviews, product roundups, and shopping guides about drain snakes, all manner of saws, nostalgic toys, and more. She’s an economic justice fellow at Community Change and a reporting fellow at Economic Hardship Reporting Project. In addition to Popular Mechanics, she has written for a range of publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Muscle & Fitness, and Parade.

These Bug Zappers Keep Insects Off Your Food and Out of Your Hair (2024)

FAQs

Are bug zappers harmful to humans? ›

Bug zappers may pose risks to human health due to the potential spread of bacteria and pathogens from insect remnants, as well as the risk of electric shock or fire hazards from malfunctioning devices.

What bugs do bug zappers work on? ›

A variety of insects can be found swarming around your lights at night, and it is many of these such bugs that Zappers specifically target, including:
  • Moths.
  • Flies.
  • Mayflies.
  • Beetles.
  • Mosquitoes.
  • And more!

Are fruit flies attracted to bug zappers? ›

Fruit flies and drain flies aren't particularly attracted to UV light either like other types of flies so EFK (electronic fly killers) are less effective in dealing with these types of fly. The only long-term solution for these flies is to remove the breeding sites through cleaning.

Do bug zappers attract more bugs? ›

The only problem: They aren't killing the bugs that bother you. “Bug zappers are good for attracting insects that are attracted to bug zappers,” Leslie Vosshall, a neurobiology professor at the Rockefeller University, told us. This often doesn't include mosquitoes or any other biting insects.

What is the downside of bug zappers? ›

Disadvantages of Outdoor Bug Zappers

They can attract pests that wouldn't have otherwise been drawn to your property. They require regular cleaning. They can spread disease. By electrocuting bugs with such a strong force, some of those bug guts, legs, or wings can be misted as far as 7 feet.

Is it safe to leave a bug zapper plugged in all night? ›

Do I need to turn my bug zapper on and off each time I use it? The most efficient and effective way to run a bug zapper is to leave it on 24/7.

Do bug zappers attract co*ckroaches? ›

”Unfortunately, Asian co*ckroaches are attracted to light-colored surfaces such as white walls. They`re not attracted to light sources such as bug zappers or porch lights,” says Philip Koehler, an entomologist with the University of Florida at Gainesville.

Do bug zappers keep mosquitoes away? ›

Experts and studies from Colorado State University Extension and the American Mosquito Control Association concluded that bug zappers are not effective at controlling biting mosquitoes.

Are fleas attracted to bug zappers? ›

Given that fleas are less attracted to light compared to other pests, the efficacy of bug zappers against them is questionable. While they may zap a few adventurous fleas, they are unlikely to make a significant impact on an infestation.

What is the number 1 fruit fly killer? ›

Fruit Fly BarPro is the most effective fruit fly control and prevention product on the market.

What is the most effective outdoor bug zapper? ›

To help you have a bug-free summer, these are the best bug zappers for your indoor and outdoor spaces.
  • Best Bug Zapper Overall: Flowtron BK-40D Insect Killer.
  • Best Indoor Bug Zapper: Aspectek Electronic Indoor Insect Killer.
  • Best Outdoor Bug Zapper: DynaTrap Mosquito & Flying Insect Trap.
Jun 1, 2023

Do bug zappers work on flies and gnats? ›

Gnats and mosquitos are too small to cause the electrodes to arc over and zap the insect. Larger bugs like houseflies, moths and other larger bugs are killed with a satisfying pop and electrical flash. The smaller bugs fly into and out of the zapper, completely unscathed.

Are spiders attracted to bug zappers? ›

Bug Zapper Weaknesses

Mosquitoes are not generally attracted to bug zappers, and some insects – like co*ckroaches – do not typically fly towards them. Spiders, wasps, and other insects either do not fly at night or are not attracted to light either.

Where is the best place to put a bug zapper? ›

Position your bug zapper away from outdoor dining areas, open windows and doors. The best location for your bug zapper is on a balcony awning, in a tree or hanging post, away from where you spend time outdoors.

Are stink bugs attracted to bug zappers? ›

Myth: Bug Zappers Are an Effective Means of Controlling Stink Bugs. Fact: Bug zappers are not an ideal solution for stink bug control. Stink bugs are not attracted to the UV light emitted by bug zappers, which primarily target insects that are drawn to light sources.

Is it safe to have a bug zapper in the house? ›

The UVa light used in these devices attracts & eliminates more insects and they are harmless for humans and can be placed in the bedroom, living room, or any other area, indoors. However, they should be kept away from water unless the system is waterproof.

Do bug zappers give off radiation? ›

There is no evidence to suggest that insect traps using ultraviolet black light increase your risk of developing skin cancer, as the amount of ultraviolet radiation they emit is very low. Black lights emit a type of ultraviolet radiation called UVA, which is invisible to the human eye.

Is the UV light in a bug zapper harmful? ›

According to the food and drug administration, insect zappers pose little danger to people. Nevertheless, stronger UV lamps, such as those that employ UVB and UVC rays, can harm the eyes and induce skin responses. Humans can safely use bug zappers.

Is UV light from bug zappers safe? ›

While prolonged exposure to UV light can potentially cause skin damage, the UV light from bug zappers is generally not strong enough to cause skin harm during normal use.

References

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Nicola Considine CPA

Last Updated:

Views: 5747

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (69 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Nicola Considine CPA

Birthday: 1993-02-26

Address: 3809 Clinton Inlet, East Aleisha, UT 46318-2392

Phone: +2681424145499

Job: Government Technician

Hobby: Calligraphy, Lego building, Worldbuilding, Shooting, Bird watching, Shopping, Cooking

Introduction: My name is Nicola Considine CPA, I am a determined, witty, powerful, brainy, open, smiling, proud person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.