Nothing ruins a warm summer night like mosquitoes. If these whining pests are keeping you from enjoying your yard, a cheap mosquito trap can help. Mosquito traps range from small $20 electric models that can sit on a patio to propane-powered behemoths that cost upward of $300 and must be wheeled from place to place. More expensive traps often fare as well -- or poorly -- in reviews as their budget-friendly counterparts, so this is one product category where the cheap brands may, in fact, be among the best bets. We looked over thousands of consumer reviews as well as expert sources to figure out which cheap mosquito traps are most effective at keeping those pesky, and sometimes disease-bearing, bugs away.
Cheap Mosquito Traps Buying Guide
Higher-priced mosquito traps from brands such as Mega-Catch, Mosquito Magnet, and Blue Rhino generally come with bells and whistles such as adjustable fans, adjustable light and heat settings, and timers. They also tend to cover a much larger area than cheap mosquito traps, and may be powered by a propane tank instead of electricity. That said, cheap mosquito traps can still work well in smaller yards and homes. For between $25 and $125, most cheap mosquito traps have coverage areas of half an acre or less; for bigger yards, you may need to spend a little more or space out several traps.
Our top picks include an outdoor-only mosquito trap, the Flowtron BK-15D Electronic Insect Killer (starting at $31), and the indoor-only Aspectek 20-Watt Electronic Indoor Insect Killer (starting at $41). We also recommend two traps from big-name brands in the bug-killing business that can be used both indoors and outdoors: the Stinger BKC90 Cordless Rechargeable Insect Zapper (starting at $30) and the Dynatrap DT1050 Half-Acre Insect Trap (starting at $109). With the exception of the Aspectek model, which is primarily available through Amazon and the manufacturer's website, you should be able to find most of these on the shelves at local Walmarts, Home Depots, and even big-box stores.
Two insect snares we'd recommend leaving on the shelf are the indoor/outdoor Viatek Mini Mosquito Trap(starting at $23) and the outdoor-only Koolatron Bite Shield MK05 Champion Mosquito Trap (starting at $96). Too many reviewers say these traps just aren't effective at killing mosquitoes.
Keep in mind that for any of these devices to be of service at all, they need to be used properly, following manufacturer's guidelines for placement. In fact, improper placement may end up luring more insects to your yard. For instance, experts at Mosquito Central, who research and recommend mosquito traps suggest placing outdoor carbon dioxide traps in shaded areas at least 30 feet away from humans and upwind from mosquito breeding grounds -- i.e., areas of standing water. Also, these mosquito traps work by eliminating enough of the biting, egg-laying female mosquitoes to collapse the population in the area, so they should be in operation at all times, not just when you plan to be outside.
Experts also caution that, regardless of trap type, consumers should keep their expectations in check. According to the American Mosquito Control Association, traps' effectiveness varies based on a number of factors beyond users' control, including mosquito population size, breeding ground, species type, location, wind and more. Anyone who is investing in mosquito traps because of fears regarding Zika or other mosquito-borne diseases should note that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends personal insect repellant as the first and best line of protection.
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Features Comparison Buying Guide continues below table
What We Considered
Indoor vs. Outdoor Mosquito Traps.Outdoor mosquito traps often use a combination of scent, light, and heat. Cheap mosquito traps designed for indoor use typically don't use scented lures to attract bugs. While carbon dioxide can be used indoors, octenol and lactic acid (other common compounds found in traps) are generally reserved for outdoor use because they have strong smells and are chemical-based. For the same reason, a scent-free trap may be best for outdoor spaces smaller than 30 feet; heat and light alone may do the trick.
There are some traps that can be used indoors or out. These are particularly good options for homes where there's a lot of traffic between outside and inside and flexible protection from a single device is desired. These types of traps generally have the option to use a scented lure but can also work without it. They frequently come with a chain for hanging or some other wall-mounting system for indoor use, so they can be kept out of the reach of small children or pets. Their hardiness may be tested, however, when it comes to outdoor hazards -- many are intended for covered spaces such as patios and not for full, prolonged exposure to the elements. Outdoor-only traps, on the other hand, are typically made of weatherproof materials that will stand up better to rain, wind and sun.
Of the two indoor/outdoor traps we recommend -- the Dynatrap DT1050 and Stinger BKC90 -- the sturdy Dynatrap model covers the largest area and skips the chemicals to provide the full-force of its bug-killing powers inside. At the same time, it boasts all-weather construction and is designed to withstand being left outdoors.
Coverage Area.Many cheap mosquito traps that are meant for outdoor use top out at about half an acre of coverage, although the extent of their effectiveness within that range depends greatly on the attractant used in the trap (see below). While all our outdoor trap picks are meant for smaller yards, Flowtron and Dynatrap also make mosquito traps with bigger coverage areas. The Flowtron BK-80D Electronic Insect Killer (starting at $60) is suitable for yards up to 1.5 acres. The Dynatrap DT2000XL One-Acre Insect Trap (starting at $175) is the larger, more powerful cousin of the Dynatrap DT1050 we recommend. It's outside the Cheapism price range, but consumers can find it for less than $200 -- not bad for a trap with competition double its price. And like all Dynatrap models, it can be used indoors as well as outdoors.
Range of Attractants.All mosquito traps use some kind of attractant to lure their prey. Mosquitoes respond to scents including carbon dioxide, octenol, and lactic acid, according to Mosquito Central. Other attractants include ultraviolet light, moving lights and heat.
The trick lies in finding a trap that uses the right attractant for the size of the space and the breed of mosquito that's the particular menace. Carbon dioxide mosquito traps attract mosquitoes from farthest away -- upward of 100 feet. Octenol and lactic acid attract mosquitoes from as far as 50 feet and are recommended by Mosquito Central for Asian tiger mosquitoes, also known as day mosquitoes. Movement and light work for distances up to 30 feet, and heat reaches 10 feet. Experts caution that using a trap with a large coverage range in a small yard might backfire by actually drawing mosquitoes into the area.
Some of the best mosquito traps employ several insect lures at once. For instance, the Flowtron BK-15D uses octenol as well as ultraviolet light and gets strong marks for effectiveness. The Stinger BKC90 uses a weaker ultraviolet light and octenol to cover a smaller area. The manufacturers of Dynatrap DT1050 stress that this photocatalytic mosquito trap eschews chemicals, propane, and pesticides and instead combines ultraviolet light, heat, and carbon dioxide to do its work.
Mosquito traps don't necessarily need more than one lure to work, however. The Aspectek Electronic Indoor Insect Killer relies solely on ultraviolet light, but owners say it's extremely effective. On the other hand, the Koolatron MK05 Champion uses light, heat, and octenol, but reviewers aren't impressed with the results.
Killing Methods.Once mosquitoes are lured to the trap, they're typically killed one of two ways. Some traps use an electrified grid to zap and kill mosquitoes. Others use a fan to suck bugs into a holding chamber, leaving them to die of dehydration. While the first method is arguably more efficient, it's also louder -- you'll listen to the “zap” of dying insects all evening. The second method, while much quieter, requires users to wait a long time after turning off the fan to make sure bugs are dead before cleaning out the holding chamber. The traps we recommend employ both methods, so it's up to consumers to decide which best suits their sensibilities.
Power Source.Nearly all cheap mosquito traps use a power cord for electricity, whether that's to power a UV light, electrify a bug-killing grid, or operate a bug-sucking fan. While standard, this can be inconvenient, especially for outdoor traps. For instance, while the Flowtron BK-15D is lauded for effectiveness, many users report having to buy an outdoor extension cord in order to place it where it's needed.
There are a handful of mosquito traps that don't need to be tethered to an electrical source. This includes pricier propane mosquito traps but also a few cheap mosquito traps such as the Stinger BKC90, which has a rechargeable battery that makes it easily portable and good for use while camping. There are a few solar-charged mosquito traps on the market, too, but reviews aren't very complimentary thus far.
Ongoing Costs.No one likes to pay ongoing costs after buying a cheap product, but most mosquito traps require upkeep. Replacing the ultraviolet bulbs in our two top picks, the Flowtron BK-15D and Aspectek Electronic Indoor Insect Killer, costs about $17. Fortunately, this shouldn't need to happen more than about once a year. The 7-watt bulbs used in the Dynatrap DT1050 are less pricey upfront, at about $10 apiece, but given that the manufacturer recommends they be replaced after every four months of continuous usage, the costs can definitely add up. Replacing octenol lures can also be expensive, because they generally last just one month. Lures for the Stinger BKC90 are about $7 each, meaning users spend more on lures in just four months than they paid for the trap itself. Considering that a typical year's supply of octenol lures for the Flowtron BK-15D runs about $70, along with the cost of bulb replacement, it's actually not that much less expensive than the pricier Dynatrap model, all things considered. The LED bulbs in the Viatek Mini Trap can't be replaced, so users are stuck buying an entirely new trap once the bulbs no longer work.
What We Ignored
Extras.Generally, cheap mosquito traps don't offer much in the way of extras. The Aspectek Electronic Indoor Insect Killer comes with a chain for easier hanging, and the Dynatrap DT1050 comes with a cleaning brush. The Stinger BKC90 doubles as an LED-powered lantern. While these features are nice, there's no need to pay more for anything that doesn't directly affect a mosquito trap's performance.
Mosquito Trap Reviews
We relied on a mix of expert advice and user reports to make our picks. We factored in some notable expert tests on the independent review site Picaridin.info and surveyed several reviews and roundups from general consumer sites and specialized industry sites. User commentary on cheap mosquito traps can be tricky to judge, as most traps get a lot of negative feedback from consumers who question whether even pricey mosquito traps really work at all. That said, nearly all reviewers, consumer and professional, discuss lifestyle factors such as ease of cleaning, durability, and noise, in addition to the bottom line: Does the trap kill enough mosquitoes to stop the biting?
Effectiveness.The Flowtron BK-15D and Aspectek Electronic Indoor Insect Killer, our two top picks, get many more positive comments on effectiveness than most other models. Reviewers posting about these traps on Amazon say they kill lots of mosquitoes, especially given their budget-friendly prices. Both traps also earn kudos from BestReviews, which places them on its “5 Best Bug Zappers” list right alongside a $300 model. Our other two picks receive much more mixed reviews. Despite a limited range of only 625 square feet, the Stinger BKC90 impresses many reviewers with its bug-killing abilities, but that's only when the machine is actually functioning, which apparently can be a hit or miss proposition. More than a few reviews on Amazon suggest that the Dynatrap DT1050 catches lots of bugs, but users might find it filled with more moths than mosquitoes. An expert review at Picaridin.info is more complimentary, although its hands-on testing was conducted with a slightly different model that adds water and a pole mount.
When it comes to the Viatek Mini Mosquito Trap and Koolatron MK05 Champion, reviews are decidedly dubious. For every consumer post that claims these traps do a good job of catching mosquitoes, there's another saying the opposite. In a 12-hour test by Picaridin.info, the Viatek managed to catch less than a dozen mosquitoes -- not enough for anyone faced with more than a handful of annoying bugs. Ratings for the Koolatron on the Home Depot site and Amazon are even more dismal.
Ease of Use.When consumers talk about ease of use in mosquito trap reviews, they are often referring to cleaning or emptying the machines. This can be tricky. Units that use electricity to zap mosquitoes can become clogged with dead bugs, and those that simply trap their prey with a fan may let survivors escape when it's time to empty the catch bin. Either way, users don't like the task of cleaning traps and don't have a lot of positive things to say about the process.
The Aspectek Electronic Indoor Insect Killer earns much praise for a pull-out collection tray that makes it easier to clean. The Stinger BKC90 also has a tray that can be removed and emptied, but many reviewers complain that the grid can become grimy with insect remains and make for messy and frequent cleaning. The Flowtron BK-15D has a clog-resistant grill that reviewers like, but this means that users should expect to find bug bits below the machine; many also recommend weekly cleanings with a leaf blower or air compressor to keep the inner bulb area clear of excess debris. And while users say the Dynatrap DT1050 is easy to clean, the trap does not automatically kill the bugs inside, so some users suggest setting it aside to make sure all bugs are dead before emptying -- about 12 to 24 hours. On the plus side for some, “friendly bugs” such as ladybugs that are caught inside can be released.
Noise.Most users expect some noise from traps that use electrified grids to kill mosquitoes. While some relish every “zap,” others say it's not very appetizing during a cookout on the patio.
Those who love listening to mosquitoes meet their maker rave about the Aspectek Electronic Indoor Insect Killer. On Amazon, one reviewer reports hearing it from four rooms away, even with doors closed. Others agree that the “zap” of bugs getting killed is startlingly loud. Owners say the Flowtron BK15-D is similarly cacophonous during a kill but don't seem as rattled by it, probably because it's an outdoor trap.
On the other hand, the Dynatrap DT1050, Viatek Mini Mosquito Trap, and Koolatron MK05 Champion do their jobs quietly, reviewers say. While there may be some noise from these traps' fans, it's minimal. A purchaser on Amazon reports barely being able to hear the Koolatron's fan just 3 feet away.
Durability.Even for the lower prices they're paying, users expect budget mosquito traps to last much longer than one season. Happily, some do. Many reviewers report on Amazon that the Flowtron BK15-D withstands weather of all kinds, and they leave it outside for summers at time. One even claims that the trap was still functioning like new after six years of extended use. While there may be some who dispute the Dynatrap DT1050's ability to actually catch mosquitoes, its durability doesn't appear to be in question -- we found no complaints of units breaking.
The Aspectek Electronic Indoor Insect Killer gets a decent amount of praise for seemingly sturdy construction, and there are a few reports of the unit withstanding fairly major drops. On the other hand, there are many gripes about the lifespan of the bulbs and some grumbling about defective units, as well. The Stinger BKC90 scores poorly for durability overall. According to numerous purchasers from Amazon, Home Depot, and Walmart, the trap suddenly stopped working after only a few months, either because of a shorted-out bulb or a battery that could no longer hold a charge. Finally, although the model is billed as suitable for indoor/outdoor use, exposure to rain can result in an early demise, and some users complain of having to remember to bring the trap inside whenever showers threaten.