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Here's why bug zappers aren't good at controlling mosquitoes

Bug zappers do indeed kill mosquitoes, but it turns out they kill a lot more innocent bystanders.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As days get a little cooler, more and more people will be enjoying the weather outside, and that can mean more bites from mosquitoes. 

One viewer emailed VERIFY asking if a bug zapper can help eliminate mosquitoes. Bug zappers come in many varieties with the goal of electrocuting bugs. They do this by imitating a UV light that draws in bugs. 

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"They imitate a UV light that attracts certain types of insects into the light, at which point they are going to electrocute it," Sloan Black, the owner of Mosquito Joe Southeast Charlotte, said. 


Are bug zappers effective at controlling mosquitoes?



No, bug zappers are not effective at controlling mosquitoes.


Bug zappers do indeed kill mosquitoes, but it turns out they kill a lot more innocent bystanders. A study by the University of Delaware tracked six bug zappers over 10 weeks. Of the more than 13,000 insects killed during that time, only 31 were biting flies, including mosquitoes. That's about one-fifth of 1%. 

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The American Mosquito Control Association noted similar results when they looked at Notre Dame research. Their study found over an entire season; bug zappers killed less than 6.5% of mosquitoes. Black said that's because mosquitoes aren't attracted to that blue UV light. 

"If they did effectively kill mosquitoes, you would have all these new mosquitoes that are hatching all the time coming there," Black said. 

So, what are mosquitoes attracted to? Sweat and perfumes, for one. They're also drawn to the carbon dioxide that we all exhale. 

"They have a really good sense of smell, so they are attracted to stuff like CO2 that we emit when we are breathing," Black said. 

He said it's way more effective to prevent mosquitoes before they hatch, which is why you should get rid of any standing water in the area. For mosquitoes, that's their breeding ground. 

"You also have to address all the eggs that have been laid in the water sources," Black said. 

Contact Meghan Bragg at mbragg@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

WCNC Charlotte's Verify series is all about trying to make a difference in the Carolinas by making sure the community has the correct information. WCNC Charlotte outlines concisely what we know and what we don't know. Sometimes the answer can be surprising. Watch previous stories where we verify social media claims in the YouTube playlist below and subscribe to get updated when new videos are uploaded.

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