Preparing for Summer Part One: Mosquitoes

Mosquito 3Mosquitoes are, without doubt, a right pain here in Australia. Well, not just Australia, mosquitoes irritate people in many countries so we are not alone with that. Fortunately, our mosquitoes carry far fewer diseases than they do in some regions, so at least we can be thankful of that.

I’ve written quite a bit about mosquitoes and you will find this post littered with links to those other relevant articles. Like the time when my ankles got absolutely blitzed by mozzies, my word, you should see the pictures… No-see-ums: Those Pesky Biting Midges Are Back!

What is interesting to me though is that within a very small geographical area, for example, the suburb I live in, mozzies can be either all over you constantly or completely non-existent, depending whose house you are visiting.

What makes the difference? Here’s one possible answer…

The Bug Eater

bug eater glowMy Bug Eater made its debut on this website just last week in my post called Ticks and Snakes in Australia: Welcome to Summer. It’s back again, this time after dark, which is why it has that rather ghostly glow around it.

Here’s how it looks after dark but with flash photography…

bug eater flashI first trialled this out throughout the entirety of last summer, I had it on a timer switch to come on at around dusk and go off at dawn every day and it really does seem to have helped enormously. I don’t recall getting bitten by a mozzie in my back garden throughout the whole season.

Here’s how it works:

  • Bugs are attracted to the ultraviolet light
  • A fan blows the critters into the water in the tray below
  • The liquid detergent added to the water prevents the insect from floating, so it drowns

Simple, but effective.

The idea of this device is not just to blast away the critters that are bugging you during your barbecue, this is a longer term solution. That’s why you should put it on every night. What you are doing is targeting the male mosquitoes in order to break the breeding cycle in your immediate area, your own back garden.

If you can reduce the male population, there will be no eggs for the females, no breeding and after 2 to 4 weeks you should see a noticeable drop in the mozzie population around your house.

The downside of using this device?

Well, it’s certainly pretty silent, you can’t hear it from more than a couple of meters away, and as the idea is to place this in the line of sight of bugs but away from your eating area, that’s just perfect. So no problems with that, but you do have to top up the soapy water every four days or so and you do also have to empty out the bugs…

bug eater stomachAs you can see, quite a few bugs in here, including a good deal who are not mosquitoes. Those big bugs look like some kind of cicada, maybe a Wattle Cicada, but I’m guessing. Clearly this machine kills insects other than mosquitoes though, which is the same problem with…

The Zapper

I used to use a Zapper…

Yard Guard… or, as mine was called, A Yard Guard, which I explained in full in my post Australian Bad Thing Attacks: Small, Medium and Large Bites. I’ve since discovered though that these probably aren’t such a good idea.

The biggest problem I found with them was that bugs electrocuted by these zappers are so thoroughly destroyed that their intestines could splash out and spray up to 2 metres away spreading bacteria and viruses.

Not good if food is being prepared in the area; I actually shuddered when I saw that old photograph to see how close the zapper was to my barbecue. Even people simply breathing within a couple of meters of a zapper could be inhaling bacteria.

Another major problem is that apparently these zappers kill many beneficial insects and very few mosquitoes. One study showed that just 4.1% of bugs killed by these zappers were mozzies and another suggested it was as few as 0.22%, or, to put that into perspective, just 31 insects out of 14,000 electrocutions.

“A Notre Dame University study in South Bend Indiana showed that people with a zapper in their backyard got bit 10% more than people without one because zappers attracted mosquitoes but did not kill them.”

The biggest problem though appears to be that the ultraviolet light really doesn’t attract mozzies at all. Surely then that means that the Bug Eater doesn’t work either, that uses ultraviolet light as well.

The same people that gave me the Notre Dame University study info above, control-mosquitoes.com, also say the following…

“UV light also helps mosquitoes find water where they lay their eggs. When UV light is reflected off the surface of water it is polarized. Like polarized sunglasses that reduce glare and help you see objects more clearly, the mosquitoes follow the polarized light to the water to lay their eggs.”

Ah, could this be why the Bug Eater is effective? It seems to go against what the manufacturers of this product say themselves, which is that their device targets male mosquitoes. But maybe the selection of a nice patch of water to bring the kids up in is a mummy and daddy decision in the mosquito world?

Maybe they both check out this nice polarised pond at the same time and then splosh? Whole family wipeout?

Who knows?

Conclusion

I don’t miss the zzpt sound of the old zapper going off every few minutes, or the waft of smoke that accompanies a rather large moth or even Asian gecko getting stuck in the grill.

Drowning, the preferred method of killing of my Bug Eater, is much less intrusive.

Does it work?

From my experience, I would say yes. But then my testing conditions are not exactly scientific. Had I not used it at all, for example, would I still have gone all of last summer mozzie free? Maybe I would have, maybe there simply aren’t any mozzies around my house.

It’s difficult to say, but I will certainly be using the Bug Eater for controlling mosquitoes again this year and I will be more than happy if I get the same results. My old zapper has already been placed in the bin.

I will also be keeping up with my vitamin B supplementation, I think that helps to repel the mozzies. I’ve mentioned that method quite a few times in my other posts, here are some of my other mosquito related entries for those who want to know more:

Eliminate the water sources

Remember, the best thing that you can do around your property is make sure there is no stagnant or slow-moving water where they can lay their eggs. So no puddles, no half empty (or full, depending which way you look at it) buckets, no blocked drains, no bunged up guttering, nowhere where water can gather. Eliminate the water sources, you will eliminate the mozzies.

Unless, of course, it’s water in the tray of your Bug Eater, that’s OK.

Other sources:

Other posts in this small trilogy are:

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{ 10 comments… add one }
  • David Lange February 17, 2016, 7:03 am | Link

    Not all bug zappers are the same. Their is one that makes a real difference. You don’t put it at your door or you will fill your house with insects. It is called the Gulf Coast Mosquito Zapper and it kills more mosquitos than the so called beneficial insects the so called experts keep talking about. I ask you if they are so beneficial why do they not list them so everyone can see what they are talking about. In the first place what beneficial insect flies at night? The Gulf Coast Mosquito Zapper kills night flying insects with 5000 volts of electricity and covers up to three acres of land. It has the largest killing grid in the industry and uses two 24″ black light blue UV bulbs. It has a thirty day money back guarantee. and a one year parts and labor warrantee. I know all this to be true because I have been using one for over twenty five years. My animals will show you it works as well. Cows that do not belong to me surround my five acres sleeping on my fence line and sleep when the mosquitos are bad in the fields. They are not bad on my property.

    • BobinOz February 17, 2016, 4:46 pm | Link

      You sound like salesman David. Oh, hold on, you are! I notice you just happen to sell the Gulf Coast Mosquito Zapper on your website.

      Looks to me as though it is simply a bigger badder and more powerful zapper similar to the one I used to own. My understanding, as the article explains, is that these devices do have their drawbacks particularly in terms of spreading bacteria.

      • David February 23, 2016, 5:50 am | Link

        Yes Bob you are right about it being more powerful . As fare as spreading bacteria you do not put this device on your porch or you will not get in your home without filling it with insects. You place this device about 20 to 30 yards from your home. Birds eat the pest you kill and bacteria is not a problem. I do sell this device. I bought the company after using the device for twenty five years and could not do without mine after the company went out of business . I know it works better than anything else on the market today. So yes I sound like a salesman because I now build every one by hand. I also tell you if you by one from me and you are not happy with it I will refund your money. I invite you to use one and you will see the difference it makes. Take a chance you have nothing to loose I will refund your money if you are not happy with it’s performance. I like to show people like you that I am telling the truth about this product. Even if the only person in Australia that ever buys one from me. I am from the Texas Gulf Coast and I would like you to try it Please. .

        • BobinOz February 23, 2016, 5:38 pm | Link

          It’s a bit too pricey for me, you sell these for $325 USD which is about $500 Australian and then of course there will be a hefty shipping fee on top.

          If you want to send me one to test out, I’ll do an honest review on these pages and that may well lead to some sales for you here in Australia, but that’s entirely up to you. You’d need to look into the shipping costs as well to see if it really is viable to send them to Australia.

  • Geoff October 11, 2015, 8:34 am | Link

    Bob,
    re the mozzie question here in northern suburbs Darwin, we have a number of guppie water pots that work well. Starting with 2 guppies & 1 pot, now have about 8 or 10 around the yard. This is not a guarantee, as there are wind blow-ins etc, but for localalised mosquitoes such as Aedes notoscripus, it knocks numbers. Also have a pot or two as reference points, noting for weeks at a time no larvae. Only need to be checked every few days as the larval stage as over 4 or 5 days for those I have observed. When a reference pot gets a hit, tip them into a guppie pot & observe.
    Re guppies, when the population per pot is 10 or more, only feed once a week. And a mix of water weed [never exotics] is essential for months of clean ponds. Ceramic pots are much better than glass tanks,
    Last comment, we dont have insect screens anymore, [some discussion on this point!] and if you miss a breeding site- as we did this week, you really notice it.

    • BobinOz October 12, 2015, 6:38 pm | Link

      Interesting post Geoff, I’d not heard of guppie water pots before. I’ve just Google it, so I now know a bit about them, but I’m going to research this some more. I reckon this is worth me doing a post on it, anything that kills mosquitoes is worth passing around and it sounds like you’re having quite a bit of success controlling these critters.

      Thanks, Bob

  • Belinda September 8, 2015, 9:09 pm | Link

    Hi Bob, my family and I moved to Brisbane a few months ago and have been trying to buy one of the bug eater’s that you have mentioned. Do you have any idea where we can pick one up?
    Thanks
    Belinda
    PS love your blog

    • BobinOz September 10, 2015, 1:33 pm | Link

      Yes, sure, Bunnings sell them or Google nobugs, that’s where mine came from.

      • Belinda September 11, 2015, 2:35 pm | Link

        Thank you, the bunnings near us doesn’t have them. I will keep looking, thanks Bob.

        • BobinOz September 13, 2015, 5:57 pm | Link

          Well, they definitely have them over at nobugs.com.au, did you Google them? They will send you one in the post. Cheers, Bob

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