You’re all set to laze on a lounge chair, tend to your flower garden, or enjoy a backyard cookout with your friends. The only thing that could put a damper on your fun? Flying insects—from flies and moths, to those miserable mosquitoes—hovering over your food, buzzing in your face, and biting.
If you’ve had no luck with deterrent sprays and citronella torches, don’t let it bug you. Keep reading to learn how to select the best bug zapper for your needs and budget, and find out why the products below are our top picks.
- BEST OVERALL: BLACK+DECKER Bug Zapper
- BEST HANDHELD: ZAP IT! Rechargeable Bug Zapper Racket
- BEST SOLAR-POWERED: PIC Solar Insect Killer Torch
- BEST FOR INDOORS: ASPECTEK 20W Electronic Indoor Insect Killer
- BEST FOR MOSQUITOES: Flowtron BK-80D 80-Watt Electronic Insect Killer
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Bug Zapper
Bug zappers have been around longer than you probably think. An early prototype featured an electric light and a chunk of bait encased within an electrified cage. Insects, attracted by the light and bait, were electrocuted when they touched the cage.
Many of the best bug zappers today work on the same simple concept. They feature an ultraviolet (UV) light that insects can’t resist. When the bugs try to get to the light, they pass through an electrified wire grid that kills them on contact. Dead bugs then drop into a removable collection tray, which can be emptied as often as needed (usually every 2 to 7 days, depending on the prevalence of pests).
Keep the following factors in mind when selecting the best bug zapper, for either an indoor or outdoor space.
Bug zappers run on a variety of power sources, the majority of which are plug-in electric models. An electric bug zapper will need an exterior outlet if it’s outdoors. Alternatively, use an extension cord, but be sure that it’s labeled for outdoor use.
Lightweight and portable battery-powered bug zappers make great companions on camping trips, at tailgate parties, and during other outdoor activities. They can hang from trees or sit on a table. Racquet-type zappers, another battery-operated option, are like electrified fly swatters that shock the bugs it comes in contact with.
The sun powers the newest, most versatile outdoor bug zappers. Just position them in sunlight during the day to charge their internal batteries, and switch them on at dusk to start zapping pests at home or on the go.
Outdoor vs. Indoor
While they perform the same function, outdoor zappers are designed to withstand the elements better than indoor ones. They also tend to be bigger and include larger collection trays. Hanging, electric bug-zapper units are a popular and attractive option for a patio or seating area.
Indoor bug-zapper options sometimes feature white UV lights, as opposed to the sometimes-distracting deep purple seen in outdoor models. The best indoor bug-zapper products tend to be wall fixtures and countertop units, since they are the easiest to install indoors. Some types of bug zappers work well both indoors and out, so check the label before buying.
The electrified grid in plug-in and lantern-type bug zappers is safely contained within a plastic cage to prevent fingers from inadvertently touching the grid and receiving a shock. Racquet-type zappers, also called “electric fly swatters,” can be a different story.
Press a button on the tennis racket–type handle to electrify the grid, then swing the head of the racquet at flies or other insects. If it makes contact with bugs, they’re zapped. But beware: Anyone, human or insect, who touches the grid when the button is depressed will get a shock. To prevent accidental zaps, look for a handheld zapper with a protective layer. Keep pets out of swatting range, and remind kids that electric fly swatters are not toys.
Many flying insects are attracted to light, but a University of Delaware study found that bug zappers kill more non-biting insects, such as flying beetles and moths, than they do biters, such as mosquitoes and biting flies.
Bug zappers that kill mosquitoes amp up their effectiveness with bait containing octenol, the chemical found in human breath and sweat that mosquitoes find irresistible. Octenol comes in small, packed lures that adhere to the inside of the zapper’s collection tray. One lure attracts mosquitoes for up to 3 months. Or grab a handheld zapper and hunt the mosquitoes manually. A racket-style zapper is an excellent choice for the best mosquito zapper indoors, too.
When shopping for an outdoor bug zapper, the product should have a coverage area listed, often by acreage. While there are no industry standards, typically a larger coverage area means brighter UV lights in the zappers so that bugs see them from a greater distance.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists bug zappers as “pesticide devices.” While the EPA admonishes manufacturers not to make false claims about their products, they do not regulate the bug-zapper industry, so exaggerated claims may occur.
Our Top Picks
Don’t let flying insects put a damper on your next backyard barbeque or summer dinner party. The best bug zappers are functional and safe, making it easier to eliminate nuisance bugs. With the above considerations in mind, the following recommendations are the best bug zappers for keeping pesky insects at bay.
This Black & Decker outdoor bug zapper provides protection against flying pests across as much as a half-acre with its high-intensity UV light. Made for the outdoors, its waterproof housing keeps the zapper lit and operating even during a storm. Quiet operation and casing that keeps UV light out of eyes make this zapper discreet.
The Black & Decker zapper includes a number of other practical features. A removable collection tray and small cleaning brush make for easy maintenance. The zapper also features a sleek and attractive cover, a hook for hanging, a flat base for tabletop use, and a 5-foot power cord.
- Power Source: Plug-in
- Suitability: Indoors and outdoors
- Coverage Area: ½ acre
- Easy to empty and clean
- Wide-area coverage
- Suitable both indoors and outdoors
- Convenient hanging hook
- Some bugs can stick to the light
Take a swipe at pests with the ZAP IT! bug zapper. Hunting down flies, gnats, and mosquitoes is easy and safe, both indoors and out, with this handheld zapper. With up to 10,000 zaps on a single charge, this portable device handily replaces any old-school swatter.
A blue light attracts bugs to the racket and makes them an easy target, and bugs die on contact with the electrified grid. A triple-layer safety mesh prevents accidental zaps and makes the racket safe to touch. The ZAP IT! bug zapper includes a USB charging port and cable.
- Power Source: Rechargeable USB
- Suitability: Indoors and outdoors
- Coverage Area: Depends on the user (handheld swatter)
- Rechargeable battery
- Effective manual swatter
- Lightweight and easy to use
- Manual labor required to be effective
Zap flying insects and light up the backyard with this set of bug-zapping torches from PIC. The low-maintenance waterproof torches can live outside year-round. They run on natural sunlight, and each charge lasts 6 hours or more.
These torches feature a flickering LED flame to mimic warm candlelight, and a blue UV LED light attracts insects. After a few nights of bug zapping, dispose of any dead insects in the no-touch catching tray. The set includes two torches, height-adjustable stakes, and a base for tabletop use.
- Power Source: Solar powered
- Suitability: Outdoors
- Coverage Area: Around 500 square feet
- Aesthetically pleasing as well as effective
- Multiple height options available
- Can be placed anywhere, no outlet required
- Only 6 hours per charge
An easy-to-install countertop unit makes a convenient pick for indoor spaces. This indoor fly zapper from Aspectek keeps bugs out of bedrooms, bathrooms, and living rooms. Users can place it on a countertop or mount it to a wall with the included hanging chain.
Dual UV lamp bulbs attract all types of flying insects, while the sturdy mesh screen prevents any accidental human or pet contact with the electrified bug-zapping grid. A removable and washable bug-collection tray makes maintenance simple and quick.
- Power Source: Plug-in
- Suitability: Indoors or covered outdoor areas
- Coverage Area: Over 5,000 square feet
- Easy bulb replacement
- Safety layer to prevent accidental shock
- Attracts a variety of insects
- Loud when insects come into contact
The Flowtron Electronic Insect Killer is a powerful outdoor zapper for defeating bloodsucking foes. Mosquitoes are no match for the zapping grid, which is housed in a weatherproof casing that won’t rust, crack, or fade through the seasons. The high-efficiency grid features a patented nonclogging design.
A protective guard prevents kids, pets, and other wildlife from accidentally touching the zapper. Made for outdoor use, this unit will hang from a hook or sit on a flat surface. Consider pairing this bug zapper with a mosquito attractant to boost mosquito-killing effectiveness. Flowtron also offers an optional octenol-based attractant insert (not included).
- Power Source: Plug-in
- Suitability: Outdoors
- Coverage Area: 1.5 acres
- Weatherproof construction
- Nonclogging design
- Simple setup, no assembly required
When dealing with a bug infestation, most homeowners will find the Black & Decker bug zapper to be effective at eradicating the problem. It’s a simple plug-in unit that can be placed either inside or outdoors, where it attracts insects and deposits them in the easy-to-clean tray at the bottom. Shoppers on a tighter budget should consider the Tysonir bug zapper, a lightweight and effective zapper that’s safe for humans and pets.
How We Chose the Best Bug Zappers
No one likes sharing their living spaces with winged invaders. Our list of recommendations aims to help homeowners cut back on flying insects at their next backyard cookout or outdoor soiree. We looked at the range of products on offer in the market to gather a list of our top picks. Each of these affordable gadgets eliminate flies, moths, mosquitoes, and other winged pests that fly into their wires.
We made sure to include several plug-in models, a manual battery-powered option, and even an attractive solar-powered unit so that shoppers can find a bug zapper that best suits their requirements.
When you’re using the best bug zapper, flying insects are less likely to put a damper on your evening plans. Before selecting a new bug zapper, check out the following common questions to learn more about these bug-eliminating gadgets.
Q: How do bug zappers work?
Most freestanding or hanging bug zappers attract insects with a bright light and electrocute them with an electrical mechanism once they land. Electric fly swatters, on the other hand, employ a racquet design with an electrified mesh to zap any bugs in its path.
Q: What kind of bugs does a bug zapper kill?
Bug zappers can kill any bug that comes in contact with their wired grids.
Q: Do bug zappers work in daylight?
An active bug zapper will still kill bugs that come in contact with it during the day. However, their luring rays do not work as effectively in the daylight.
Q: Should I leave a bug zapper on all night?
The longer a bug zapper is left on, the more bugs it will trap. It’s best to turn off outdoor bug zappers at night, as there’s no need to continue killing bugs once you’ve come inside. However, it is effective to leave an indoor bug zapper on overnight to kill as many bugs within a room as possible.
Q: Do bug zappers use a lot of electricity?
No, bug zappers do not use very much electricity. If electricity use is a concern, opt for a battery- or solar-powered zapper.