How does bug zapper work?

Insects are of economic importance as they serve as sources of food, agents of pollination and cause diseases.  However, of great concern is the fact that an insect can become a pest, which becomes quite frustrating if you lack the means to get rid of it.

There are over 10 000 insects’ species, classified as biting insects and flying insects.

Many people are said to have experienced the various damages and dangers caused by insects, which range from infestations of the home and farm, spread of viral diseases, and bites, to death.

Studies on how to get rid of insects are ongoing, and many innovations have been made.

Before, pest control was limited to using biological method, which involves the use of other animals like frogs and toads for killing small insects.

Later on, repellent was made to discourage their infestation in an area.

And more recently,  with the rise of technology, more efficient and sustainable techniques like Ultraviolet light and insect electrocution in the form of a bug zapper is the new way to get rid of insects.

This content will create more awareness on bug zappers, how they work, and answer various burning questions regarding them.

What is a bug zapper?

A bug zapper is scientifically known as an electrical discharge insect control system, electrocution trap, or electric insect killer.

It is a device that uses ultraviolet light to attract insects, then execute them. It has a pair of wire grids (one wire mesh), where the electrocution occurs. The electrocution is due to a high voltage from the wire grids. It is named “bug zapper” from the sound “zap” made by the bugs’ electrocution.

This innovation resulted from twenty years of research by Dr. Williams Brodbeck Herms (1876-1949), a parasitology professor at the University of California. He worked on large commercial pest traps needed to protect the state’s essential fruit industry. The long years of data birthed the future bug zappers model, the electric insect killer.

Composition of bug zappers

Bug zappers come in grounded metal or plastic protective coverings to prevent exposure to the high voltage grid. A light source from a light bulb provides ultraviolet light, which attracts insects to it.

A pair of wire grids surround the light source, while electric circuit power them. The electricity supply allows the zapper to generate up to 2000 volts suitable for electrocuting insects. However, the lack of power supply and design of the zapper allows for humans’ safety.

Many bug zappers consist of trays, fans to collect and trap the insects caught in them. Some designs allow insects killed to fall after electrocution. Bug zappers work on rechargeable batteries that use a USB adapter to charge it or on alkaline batteries like lithium-ion batters, where you change the batteries.

Composition of bug zappers

Do bug zapper work?

The big question is, “do bug zappers work?”

Bug zappers zap several thousand insects both indoors and outdoors. Many bugs are attracted to lights, as the UV light from the light bulb in the zapper attracts them. The electrocution from the wire mesh, supplied by over 2000 high voltage, is instant and kills them.

A study showed that black light electric insect killer devices were purchased in massive quantities in the U.S in many homes for 24 hours. The purchases made were over the proven ability to attract and kill thousands of insects. There have been lots of researches regarding the measure of authenticity of bug zappers, especially in the state university of Florida, University of Notre Dame, etc.

The primary concern regarding bug zappers’ functionality is how they kill nontarget insects such as moths, beetles that provide food for songbirds in popular suburbs, thereby reducing their population. With the attraction of many insects to these devices, there is the possibility of endangering beneficial insects.

Another concern is that the force of insect electrocution can open up their bodies in the air, known as the scattering effect. This effect spews the blood and pathogens in some biting and flying insects into the air, causing health and environmental hazards.

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How does a bug zapper racket work? 

A bug zapper racket is a handheld device in the form of a tennis racket that you can use to hit flying insects. The bug zapper racket has an electric screen free of chemicals and toxins, usually employed to kill insects that fly. This makes it suitable for close up use since you do not have to breathe in toxic chemicals when using it.

The electric screen flashes a light when it comes in contact with the insect, and this light signifies the instant electrocution of the insect. The bug zapper racket consists of two electric wires surrounded by two outer screens. The electric cables are protected by mesh grids in some designs and unprotected in others.

It has a handle that you can hold on to while swinging it around at flying insects. Press the racket’s handle, wave it around insects that fly, and once it hits them, they die immediately. Either rechargeable batteries or removable ones power the products.

Bug zapper rackets come in various sizes and lengths; small, medium and large, depending on the manufacturer’s design. Models with larger rackets may be heavier and slower when swinging to kill bugs.

A bug zapper racket is used for mosquito control as it can attract mosquitoes. They control mosquitoes by drawing them when they fly around, and you use it on them. The Bug zapper racket is also used to kill biting insects, as you can hit them with it.

Can a bug zapper hurt a human?

For safety purposes, people are interested in if bug zappers could hurt them. The killing of bugs by the zappers is based on high voltage, and voltage only cannot kill. You have to be electrocuted with the current before death could occur. With the bug zappers voltage ranging from 2000 to 4000 volts, you may feel the product’s shock if you touch the wire mesh.

The shock can be quite painful, depending on the number of volts, but that is where it all ends. There is no severe hurt or even death. However, continuous shock from electrocution may lead to paralysis, not death, except current is involved.

The good news is that bug zappers, in general, do not have continuous electrocution. Once the zapper catches an insect, it electrocutes it immediately and only momentarily, until another comes into it. Like humans who come in contact with the inner wires, they would feel a momentary shock, and that is all.

Do bug zappers work on mosquitoes?

Mosquitoes are some of the deadliest insects that fly around in the world.

A mosquito is a pest that causes pain by piercing the skin, suck blood, and spread many diseases, including malaria, Zika virus, etc. Mosquitoes are found in tropical areas or anywhere with water.

Bug zappers are known to be effective against many bugs; however, there are reservations regarding mosquitoes.

Many people use bug zappers for mosquito control in the home. They believe the information that these devices kill mosquitoes since they kill bugs. However, there are reservations regarding the use of bug zappers in controlling mosquitoes.

In one study conducted amongst some homeowners in their backyards, the results showed that the bug zappers killed only 0.13% of female mosquitoes out of several insects in the home. This research indicates the minor significance of bug zappers in killing mosquitoes over other insects.

A study to buttress this point from the University of Delaware found out that of 13,789 insects killed during ten weeks of tracking six residential bug zappers, only 31 were biting insects (including mosquitoes). This 0.22% result shows that bug zappers do not attract as many mosquitoes as other insects.

Researchers have discovered that mosquitoes are not attracted to ultraviolet light; instead, water vapor and carbon dioxide in mammals’ breath attract them. Lights generally attract bugs, but not a mosquito.

So, the zapper is not as useful to kill mosquitoes. There are models of the zappers modified to contain carbon dioxide and octanol (a nontoxic trap for mosquito) for better results.

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These products secrete carbon dioxide or octanol when you press the handle of the racket. The carbon dioxide or octanol attracts the mosquito, and the electrocution from the zapper kills it.

How do you use a bug zapper racket to kill a mosquito?

You can kill a mosquito with a bug zapper racket. Take the bug racket, press its handle, and swing it around you to catch a mosquito. When the device captures the mosquito, it will electrocute it, which kills it.

Should you leave bug zapper on all the time?

Another question regarding zappers is, “should you leave bug zapper on all the time?”

Studies have shown that the zapper is most effective when left on all the time, 24/7. You will help break the insects’ life cycles, which is vital for insect control.

Due to specific situations that may not allow you to have the zapper on all the time, e.g., when making food, you may leave it running from dusk to dawn.

At least, you can sleep soundly knowing insects around you will meet their doom.

However, there is a precaution for leaving bug zappers on all the time, as researchers are wary of UV light exposure.

Naturally, there is no considerable radiation exposure due to the zapper. However, when placed directly close to you and left on for a long time, there could be prolonged radiation exposure.


Electric bug zappers are effective for insects’ control, as this article states.

The lights emitted from the zappers attract the insects, while the electrocution kills them. You can employ it in your home to kill any insect like a mosquito. Avoid constant exposure. Also, make sure that your food does not come in contact with them.



Professional Pest Control Manufacturer

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