Friday, March 12, 2004
The buzz on mosquito traps
(This is a follow-up to the October 3, 2003
Mosquito Feature article on the Mosquito Magnet.)
Anyone with bare skin living in Carlisle (a.k..a "Swampville") without a screened porch knows the perils of being outside in the evening between May and October. Old fashioned bug zappers, using ultraviolet light to attract and zap insects, do not seem to perform much better than sticky paper. A better option is a "trap" that works by mimicking a mammal, creating combinations of carbon dioxide (CO2), heat, moisture, or sound. The bugs are then trapped in a mesh bag or on sticky paper. Mosquitoes, black flies, no-see-ums, sand flies, biting midges and other biting insects are attracted. Some of the many different types of traps are described below.Most efficient models
The most effective models of mosquito traps burn propane to generate CO2 and heat to attract the bugs. One example is the Lentek Mosquito Trap MK01, $325. More popular are three Mosquito Magnet models (Pro-$1295, Liberty-$489, and Defender-$295) by American Biophysics Corp., which, in addition to propane, also use octenol. Octenol, a pesticide that is recognized as safe by the EPA and USFDA, is a secondary attractant. Four out of the six Carlisleans we contacted had troubles with Mosquito Magnet reliability, but the manufacturer can often be convinced to swap in a new model, free. When working, however, most people said the Magnet performed excellently, though coverage was less than the advertised one acre. These fuel-burning models require an additional maintenance cost of $20-$25 per month for electricity, propane (a 20-lb cylinder every 3 weeks), octenol, mesh bags, etc. Traps that burn fuel should only be used outdoors, in a spot where children won't touch them. To be most effective, traps should be placed between a swamp and a backyard, far enough from people to avoid luring bugs to the humans. Try to set them out early in the spring before the mosquitoes can start multiplying. Many traps (but not the Mosquito Magnet Pro) must be plugged into an electrical outlet, in which case a long extension cord may be necessary.
Other traps release CO2 without combustion, so they are safe indoors. BioSensory, Inc.'s Dragonfly ($795) is a microprocessor-controlled system that emits CO2 from a 20-lb cylinder. The Lentek Eco System Trap ($170) uses a combination of non-toxic compounds in a patented attractant that slowly releases CO2 and moisture. The Black Hole Mosquito Trap ($110) uses an ultraviolet lamp and titanium dioxide to produce CO2 and heat to attract bugs without pesticides.Models worth a try
Traps that generate CO2 have a slight environmental impact because CO2 is a greenhouse gas. A variety of other traps and gadgets use innovative techniques to either attract and kill, or else repel, mosquitoes. These models tend to be less effective than the CO2 models, but they may be worth a try. They are listed here in decreasing order of price. The Applica SonicWeb ICH500, $300, generates sound that mimics a heartbeat, attracting mosquitoes. The Bug Eater Mosquito Trap, a $120 model, uses an ultra-violet black light and a fan to lure mosquitoes into a tray of water. The intriguing BioSensory Inc. Mosquito 'Cognito® ($30) emits a proprietary gas, Conceal, registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This gas has a "scent blocking" ability that prevents a mosquito from smelling humans, so the trap should be placed upwind of people for best effect. The ingenious Lentek MC04 Mosquito Contro-Portable ($18), running on two size-C batteries, repels by emitting ultrasonic sound, tuned to the frequency of a dragonfly's wings (a natural predator). The Oak Stump Mosquito Trap ($11 plus cost of luring chemical) uses a mosquito egg pheromone that mosquitoes use to mark special egg-laying places female mosquitoes (the ones that bite) are drawn into the trap to lay eggs, can not find the exit, and drown in the liquid. A less effective wearable $5 ultrasonic device that runs on one AA battery is Sunbeam's Personal Mosquito Repeller. Finally, the inexpensive $2 BugMaster wrist band or stick-on strip that emits nontoxic citronella repellant for 72 hours has been effective for some Carlisleans.
For more information, see ConsumerReports.org
or a Google search on the web.
© 2004 The Carlisle Mosquito