May 31, 2015
Purchased two of these after researching all kinds of mosquito control products and options. So my review is all about mosquito control - if that doesn't interest you, you may not find this information useful...
First I'll include information about THIS product - skip to the end to read other options I considered and why this product was a winner. I know it's not directly a review of this product, but sometimes one item is the best because of limitations or shortcomings with other solutions. I felt it important to outline those as I spent a lot of time collecting and analyzing the data - maybe it will save someone else from spending their time on it.
Opening the box, the product was very simple and fully assembled - bulbs installed and all, which was great. You get exactly what you see in the pictures - the unit with a metal hanging loop up top, plus some documentation. Take time to read the instructions - what I've found from all my research is that catching or killing mosquitoes has a fair number of subtle tricks - so don't just run a cord, plug this thing in, and expect magic. Height above the ground, location relative to the common wind patters, locating it in front of or behind something that blocks the wind, visibility (the bugs gotta SEE the light to be attracted to it!) and more are all factors you should learn about. Some are in the manual, but lots more information is online.
And PLEASE - do NOT hang this right next to where you want to sit and enjoy your outdoor space. This unit ATTRACTS pests - and kills them. But there is a small time gap between when the pests show up and when they die. If you put this unit too close to your enjoyment areas, you'll actually have MORE bugs. I am amazed by all the bad reviews I see about devices that attract pests because the owner had not thought about how something like this actually works, nor had they read or followed the instructions. You need this unit close enough to your enjoyment area to reduce the local population of pests, but far enough away so it is drawing bugs AWAY from you and not TOWARDS you. </rant> :)
You'll need some way to hang this thing as it doesn't have any feet, the bait cup is on the bottom, and you'll just end up with a pile of bugs ruining your zapper if you don't hang it up lol! I just went down to my local home improvement store where they had several options - check out the garden section for hanging plants and those are good options. I found tall metal rods that stick in the ground like a stake and have a loop and hook at the top - great if you want the unit freestanding and want to move it around easily. I bought a simple 12-15 inch long hanging basket bracket - it screws to a fence or your house or anything else and works as you might imagine. No big deal there...
Also - the bottom of the black outer cage is not flat on the bottom so it's not stable standing upright. I think they should have done a tiny bit better with that as the bait holders are what makes it unstable. A tiny adjustment to the mold for the plastic outer grid would fix that. But that's a VERY minor issue as it's only like that while you work with it. Do be careful though - if you drop it hard on the base you might break the small plastic tabs that hold the bait cups in - they are also the bulb retainers so they ARE important even if you don't use baits.
And on the topic of lures,baits, and attractants - all names for the same things - this unit comes with one small octenol lure - I think just a 400mg time release one. Depending on where you live, you might need other baits if you are after mosquitoes specifically like I am. In Houston, we have a WIDE variety of species. So I ordered a combination of lures from an online company - you can't find the right baits on Amazon unfortunately. For all types of mosquitoes, you need THREE key lure ingredients: Octenol attracts the classic mosquitoes - ones that are active in the morning right at dawn and evening right at dusk. But for other types like Tiger Mosquitoes that bite during the brightest sun of the day (as well as night, evening, holidays, etc) you need a combination of lactic acid (which is found on human skin) and ammonium bicarbonate. Depending on your location, species of mosquitoes, and other factors, you will need to adjust your baits. Of course, you can test to see what kind of results you get with NO baits, too. That might be enough and if it is - you have a 100% maintenance free solution. Me - I HATE mosquitoes and they LOVE me, so total eradication, to whatever extent was possible, was my goal.
This unit obviously needs to be plugged in. The instructions say to use a cord and connector made for this purpose, but I didn't see anything like that down at the depot of home improvement. I ended up buying a 50 ft. "landscaping" extension cord that was dark green in color and rated for outdoor use. Given the huge increase in holiday light displays, I would imagine anything fit for outdoor Christmas lights would work here. If you are paranoid and have the money, you can of course hire an electrician to wire you up something fancy.
Last - before I went and bought my extension cords, mounting brackets, and got myself invested in a permanent install, I wanted to do a simple test. I put the octenol lure in place, rigged a hanging option by screwing a small piece of wood into a tree, and hung the unit about 2-3 feet above the ground - about where your legs would be exposed wearing shorts LOL!! Then I stuck a clean, white piece of material under the trap to make it easy to see any dead mosquitoes. I used a Styrofoam cooler lid, but whatever...just make sure it doesn't blow away - a brick solved that for me.
At first I was sad - despite dozens of mosquitoes swarming around ME and ready to feast on my flesh, I heard not one zap of the power grid and no dead bugs. So I left it to run for a while. After about 90 minutes a heavy storm was rolling in so I figured my test was over as any "evidence" would get blown or washed away. And behold! There were about a dozen or so dead mosquitoes on the foam lid. SUCCESS! They appeared to be only one or two species - but once the additional baits are delivered and installed I expect improved results.
I can't say longer term how well this unit will reduce the population of mosquitoes or even if it will be enough to be able to go outside and not get bitten. But it DOES kill mosquitoes in the Houston area and hopefully with additional attractants it will get those aggressive and horrible Tiger
My next project - once I hang these up, get the additional baits, and see how those perform, is to consider adding CO2 to the mix. Carbon dioxide is probably THE BEST mosquito bait - which is why you see all those propane traps that make CO2 and heat by burning propane. My plan is different - I'm following the method used by health workers around the world to trap mosquitoes for health and medical research - dry ice. The plan is to buy a simple insulated container to hold the dry ice (a thick cooler so it will last a long time) and some simple plastic tubing. Punch a hole in the cooler down low, put in the dry ice, seal it up so the vapors get forced thru the tube. Put the end of the tube inside my bug zapper so the mosquitoes are drawn into the killing grid - DONE. I'll only go that far if the other options aren't fully successful.
Overall - I like this product because it is simple, inexpensive, and durable. But by adding baits and other attractants, you can scale it up to suit your needs and still spend WAY less money than the fancier products with fans and nets and propane tanks.
OTHER OPTIONS - and why I didn't choose them over this product...
I was reluctant to spend hundreds of dollars on one of the mosquito-specific trap-style products like the Mosquito Magnet for a few reasons:
1) The huge number of reviews about the unit breaking down (strike 1), the huge number of reviews indicating service was difficult (strike 2), and the huge cost of repair sometimes costing a fair percentage of the original purchase price (strike 3). So ability to maintain one of these things was questionable.
2) All the "trap" style units require significant use of expendables. Tanks of propane, proprietary nets that degrade, dry rot, or wear out. Special batteries and electronics. Even the lures/attractants used have to be purchased in specific form factors and shapes to fit the machine, unlike the Flowtron zapper that you could literally stick a bait anywhere on, under, or in. Yes, there are two small nooks at the base of the bulbs designed for this purpose, but there's no reason to think the trap wouldn't work well if you added some alternate bait types and just stuck, lashed, or otherwise affixed them using your own creativity. Most of the trap-style units are not designed to work if you get creative with the bait placement - they require it to be in a very specific place to lure the mosquitoes into the vacuum suction area. Like your home vacuum cleaner - just a few inches away from the nozzle and there's very little suction.
3) There seemed to be much fewer placement options as most of the trap-type units appeared to simply sit on the ground - most had wheels of some kind. It wasn't like you could hang them from a fence post sort of arrangement or swag them to a tree. Since I wasn't sure where they'd end up, I wanted something smaller and more easily moved around as needed to get the best results.
I also didn't want one of those yard misting systems - spraying chemicals regularly onto my yard just wasn't for me. Plus that is REALLY expensive, has significant consumable costs, and needs space for the large tank of chemical and pump and such.
Spraying chemicals on my body? No thanks. MAYBE for camping in the Everglades but around my home, not happening.
I tried one of those fogger guns - you know the type that are sometimes powered by propane and some are electric? They use a special oil-based product to create an ultra-fine mist with droplets hundreds or thousands of times smaller that what a garden spray set to "fine" produces. The idea is that the fog can permeate in and around foliage, leaves, and just about everything else, providing absolute and complete coverage. Takes <5 minutes to do your yard, just a few minutes for the fog to dissipate, and you are bug-free for hours. Only it didn't take 5 minutes. It took five minutes for the unit to heat up hot enough to use. And then you had to pump the oil into the fogging chamber with a squeeze trigger - on problem is that the rate at which you pump must be precise - otherwise the fog is too "wet" or "dry" per the instructions, I found my unit constantly sending out not only fog but also little droplets of oil out the tip. The fog is supposed to make a quart of oil last for weeks or months even, but unless you product fog and ONLY fog, the product is consumed MUCH faster. All this is completely dependent on you holding the unit level during use and squeezing the trigger at just the right rate. And that rate varies based on outside temp and other factors - so you have to be a master at this. AND you have to fog every time you want to enjoy your yard. I found it took 15 minutes or so to lug the unit out, plug it in, let it warm up, fog the yard, and then you MUST let it cool down for 10 minutes or so before you can store it. To give you an idea of the heat - flames can shoot out of the fogger if you use it wrong, and the big fogging chamber has all kinds of warnings on it not to touch it, ever.
Last were the clip-on-your-person type repellents. Some had good reviews and they seemed like a viable option - relatively cheap, easy to use, no waiting, minimal expendable/consumable items. I'll be honest - I didn't try these even though they were among the better options per my criteria. I couldn't see keeping spares on hand when guests stopped by. What if we had a party? Would women in nice cocktail dresses be clipping these to their straps or ankles? Too many logistical complications here. These products have their place, but not for keeping your home and your castle free of pests...
And beyond purchased products - there are any number of DIY mosquito control methods - from 2 liter bottle with yeast in them to box fans with netting. I found it hard to separate truth from fiction, but in the end I did manage to find some studies done by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and other organizations. See - mosquitoes carry some nasty diseases. Finding a cheap way to control them in 3rd world countries is a BIG DEAL. What I ultimately found is that most of those home-made systems DO work, but aren't powerful or effective enough for population control. They'll catch SOME mosquitoes and you will think they are working. But just do the real world test - walk around outside and see if you get bitten! That's ultimately what will determine if my methods are successful or not.
And if you've read this far, God bless you! I hope you found this useful and worthwhile.