Go Into The Light: The 6 Best Bug Zappers

Aug 9, 2015

Category: Gear

Human beings declared electrocution to be too cruel a way to kill someone, but it is almost too good for insects. The obnoxious little blood suckers seem to have almost no point or purpose beyond ruining your picnic, bothering your barbecue, and making it impossible to enjoy a quiet evening sipping a mint julep out on your deck. They are the blight of warmer months and unless you love the reek of citronella or want to spend your life swatting the tiny monsters, a good bug zapper is your best line of defense.

Quality options need to be safe enough to be kept around children, carry enough voltage to instantly vaporize the buzzing creatures, be easy to hang, easy to clean, and easy to operate. They should also have a pleasant light that draws in the insects without casting a deathly pallor over your entire yard. We put all of these factors into our wonderful parsing machine and found the 6 best bug zappers you can buy.

The Executioner

The Executioner

Pro: Works for all bug types
Con: Must be used by hand

Hand-Held: Don’t just sit around waiting for a bug zapper to do all the work, take the fight to the insects with the Executioner bug racket. Pop in 2 AA batteries and set your sights on slaughter. Unlike some hand-held electrocuting wands, safety isn’t among the highest priorities of the Executioner, so it might be wise to keep it out of range of the kids. Once the zinc head is turned on you need only connect with your flying foes to send them into the light. It comes with a safety button for easy operation, though the current isn’t enough to really do damage to people. It doesn’t even fully kill larger bugs like roaches, merely stuns them for quick cleanup. When you are ready to become the samurai of your own backyard, The Executioner should be your weapon of choice. [Purchase: $20]

Black Flag BZ-40

Black Flag BZ-40

Pro: Includes scent lure for mosquitoes
Con: Slight smell

Bargain Bug Buzzer: It stands to reason that anything with the same name as Henry Rollin’s band would need to be pretty effective, and the BZ-40 doesn’t disappoint. This is the entry level outdoor option that will give the average person all the protection they need without going overboard or costing too much. The 40 watt light isn’t overbearing yet still manages to pull in the local insect population. It also has a built-in octenol lure that will help draw mosquitoes specifically before delivering the 5,500 coup de grâce. Since it has a low wattage output, the bulb will last a good long while and you won’t notice a spike in your power bill. The smell of both cooked bugs and the octenol can be irritating, so don’t hang it too close. [Purchase: $43]

Flowtron Programmable Insect Killer

Flowtron Programmable Insect Killer

Pro: Programmable timer
Con: Loud

Most for the Money: This is the gold standard for basic backyard bug zappers. It covers approximately one acre of land, though smaller cheaper models are available if you don’t need quite that much space to be protected. The settings can be changed so that it only runs when you want it to in order to conserve energy. The grill is relatively large so it can accommodate bugs of all shapes and sizes, though the frame is still staggered to protect curious little fingers from getting burned. It can be a little on the noisy side so expect to celebrate each time a flying fiend hits the fryer. The capture tray is fine, but don’t hang this over any food. Since part of its job is to attract insects, it should be kept slightly clear of people anyway to draw them away from you and your guests. [Purchase: $76]

Aspectek Indoor Insect Killer

Aspectek Indoor Insect Killer

Pro: Tasteful aesthetic
Con: Metal frame can cause shocks

Inside Job: No matter how good the screens on your windows or doors are, bugs will find a way inside and can make your home miserable, forcing you to lock yourself away during the warm months like Boo Radley. Equipped with this, you can once again let air into your home, apartment, or garage out without needing to worry about an insect invasion. It has two 20 watt UV lights that are quaint and understated yet cover 6.000 square feet. It doesn’t use any chemical agents to attract bugs, but does an outstanding job of calling them to it and then giving them a one-way ticket to ride the lightning. It can be hung or left on any flat surface, but beware if you have children. The frame is all metal and you can get a shock by touching it anywhere while it is plugged in. Not really painful, but hardly relaxing. [Purchase: $35]

Westinghouse Solar Bug Killers

Westinghouse Solar Bug Killers

Pro: Solar Powered
Con: Small coverage area

Multi-Pronged Attack: Using a single bug zapper isn’t always the best way to go about ridding yourself of pests. Sometimes employing a range of vectors will give you better results. This 4-pack set is a one-two punch. First, you aren’t bound to the nearest outlet since they draw all of their power from the sun so you can place the lights anywhere to illuminate a walkway or stairs. Secondly, they have both a bug killing UV blacklight and a standard amber LED so you can switch them from killing mode to harmless lamp with the flick of a switch. Each light will protect up to 400 feet. The plastic body is mostly weatherproof, though being submerged in snow can cause troubles. [Purchase: $64]

Flowtron Programmable Insect Killer

Flowtron FC-8800 Diplomat

Pro: Covers a large area
Con: Huge

Wide Coverage: Unless you live right off of a swamp, you probably won’t need the two acres of coverage that this provides, but if you have a small farm, ranch, or a house in the deep south where mosquitoes grow big enough to vote, then this is what you want. The 120 watt UV light can be seen from a long distance and draws in every kind of flying bastard you can think of. It seems to have a special attraction for mosquitoes and flies. The collection tray is easy to remove so a quick dump is easy enough that a child can do it. The voltage it puts out will flash fry just about anything without making too much of a racket. Larger moths will give you a crackle, but smaller bugs won’t cause more than a light sizzle. The blacklight bulb is a soft blue that will make your Pink Floyd posters really pop. Keep in mind that it is huge, making it overkill for a backyard and ideal for a barnyard. [Purchase: $265]

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