An exciting new approach to limiting mosquito populations is the mosquito trap—devices such as Coleman's Mosquito Deleto and American Biophysics 's Mosquito Magnet, for example. At first glance, the claims made by the manufacturers of these devices seem too good to be true, and to some, the idea seems a little too "gadgety" to work. While some claims may be a little overblown, these devices really do trap and kill mosquitoes. Even better, the mosquitoes they trap and kill are the breeding females.
The approach of traps like the Mosquito Deleto and the Mosquito Magnet is to use propane to generate heat and carbon dioxide as an attractant. The Deleto has a contained flame which is not visible, while the Magnet has no flame, using a catalytic converter to generate the carbon dioxide. Most traps also use pheromone attractants designed to attract the females. One note, the attractant octenol is used by many of the trap manufacturers, but American Biophysics pointed out research shows that octenol actually seems to repel certain breeds of mosquitoes, including the Asian Tiger, which is one of the most aggressive and predominant breeds in the American South. If you are plagued by this mosquito, the traps will work best without the added attractant. In testing the Deleto and the Magnet, we saw an immediate difference in the number of mosquitoes caught by the trap when the octenol was removed.
All traps require certain maintenance. Propane must be replenished, traps emptied, new sticky pads inserted, etc., depending on the methods of the particular trap. Be sure to follow instructions to the letter.
When looking for a trap, remember also that traps are meant to attract the insects, so you want to place the trap away from family activity. Some traps rely on A/C adapter power, making them less portable; make sure you have the power available if you choose a trap which relies on an A/C adapter.
Traps are not an immediate solution. Though there is that satisfying first day when you see the collected bad bugs stuck to the sticky pad or filling the trap bag, the benefit of the trap will be seen in four to six weeks, when the breeding cycle has been interrupted.
According to Mosquito.org's reports, the traps seem to work differently on different species of mosquito. The reasons for this are not clear. The success of these traps depends on many factors, including placement, the mosquito population in your yard, the species of mosquitoes you encounter, the breeding potential in your yard, the amount of moisture present, and the ever-variable wind direction and speed. One satisfying aspect of these traps is that you get to see how many bloodsuckers you've caught. Traps such as the Mosquito Deleto offer a dual approach; they are placed to best attract the mosquitoes, and a repellent device is placed near the human activity. In our backyard testing ground and unscientific evaluation of the Deleto and the Mosquito Magnet Defender (there are several sizes depending on the size of your yard), we found that both did catch mosquitoes but that to avoid being bitten we still had to use other repellents, at least for the first several weeks. In the Asian Tiger plagued area of our testing, results were far more satisfying when we removed the octenol lures.
The American Mosquito Control Association reports agree with our real-world observations about the use of these traps and advise people to, "please be cautioned against putting too much faith in traps as your sole means of control." We had to agree with their conclusion that these traps have great potential, "but shouldn't be over estimated." Still, in the end, every dead mosquito was one less breeder for our yard!
So which mosquito trap is the best?
We tested two of the best selling mosquito traps available today—The Mosquito Deleto and the Mosquito Magnet Defender. The tests were conducted by regular families in the real world of their North Carolina backyards. Please note that though placed in the same neighborhood, the devices effectiveness can be effected by a number of factors over which there is no control in the real world. Directions were followed to the letter, and several placement spots were tested for both devices.
The Deleto had better assembly instructions, was far more portable and did catch mosquitos. The repellent portion of the device was a bonus, and is small and portable. The Deleto generally retails for less than the Magnet. Our family was unhappy at the number of non-mosquito bugs caught on the sticky pads—while we didn't mourn the palmetto bugs (giant flying roach like bugs), we weren't thrilled at the number of lady bugs, spiders and lightening bugs who met their doom. The sticky pad method of bug collection became a nuisance and made parents nervous when small hands wanted to touch it, and to try and rescue bugs.
The Magnet has a higher retail price and has no repellent features, however, there was just no mistaking that the Magnet caught more mosquitos. After two days, the Magnet caught as many Asian Tiger mosquitos as the Deleto had in twice that amount of time. The only insects caught by the Magnet were mosquitos. We liked the vacuum method better than the sticky pad method in particular, because little hands were not tempted to touch it—it's a sealed off collection area, well secured. The Magnet uses a propane tank as well, but employs a catalytic converter, not flame, so parents felt generally more at ease. For power, the Magnet relies on an electric cord, so locating it away from family activities and still within range of an outlet proved a challenge. The Magnet is not as portable and the assembly instructions were not as clear as they could have been. The information about the science behind this devise was much better presented, however, and we used the information provided by the Magnet manufacturer to make the Deleto more effective. Overall, once we found a good spot in the yard and were able to properly secure the electrical cord (a trip hazard), we were happier with the performance of the Magnet. It simply caught more nasty bloodsuckers.