10 Best Bug Zappers for 2024 - Indoor and Outdoor Bug Zappers

Enjoy the nice weather minus the flying pests with these handy mosquito, fly, and beetle zappers.

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10 Best Bug Zappers for 2024 - Indoor and Outdoor Bug Zappers

The advent of summer means more late night barbecues and pool parties, but that also means more bugs. And, there’s one thing that almost everyone can agree on: Getting targeted by an invasion of stinging, chomping insects really bites (pun intended). Without a bug zapper to mitigate the flies and mosquitos, your relaxing evening on the deck can quickly turn into a feast for pests that want to munch on your family, guests, or that slab of juicy watermelon.

Bug zappers can help rid your yard of mosquitos and other bugs—which can be as dangerous as they are annoying. Mosquitoes carry diseases such as West Nile virus. Many people also have allergic reactions to bites, ranging from irritating rashes to severe medical emergencies.

There are tons of bug zappers available, from those designed for indoor use to those that double as outdoor lights. We’ve laid out some things to keep in mind when looking for your own insect management, and rounded up the best bug zappers we recommend for the summer and all year round.

Editors’ note 8/30/23: We updated the language in this story to reflect that no bug zapper alone can clear your yard of mosquitoes or other bugs. To deter them fully, consider netting, citronella candles, and other additional remedies like we lay out in the section on Coverage Area below.

Bug zappers emit an ultraviolet light that attracts small flying insects, then zaps them with a fatal shock when they get too close. Some people find the sight or sound of insects getting zapped distracting, annoying, or even distressing—but these devices do work. With that said, there are a couple of factors we recommend considering when buying bug zappers.

Before purchasing a bug zapper, it is important to keep in mind where you plan on putting it. You might want to set up your bug zapper in a strategic location near enough to your gathering area to help protect your space at a distance that keeps the sound and sights from bothering you. Remember, the point is to establish a peaceful, relaxing, annoyance-free haven.

Bug zappers differ depending on whether they’re made for indoor or outdoor spaces. Most bug zappers designed for indoor use contain a tray that collects the dead bugs. Bug zappers designed for outdoor use are not as likely to contain these trays. You might also need an extension cord, even for patio or deck settings, as some products have short cords.

For maximum insect protection, we recommend fighting pests on several fronts. In addition to a bug zapper, use insect repellent or an insect-repelling device and a citronella candle close to where people congregate. Ideally, you can also create an enclosed space, like a gazebo, protected by netting or other material.

Not all bug zappers are designed to rid of the same kind of insects. If you’re trying to manage mosquitos, make sure to purchase a zapper that specializes in exterminating them. If you’re having an issue with an influx of ants, make sure the bug zapper you purchase is equipped to get rid of them permanently.

We’ve detailed which zappers are intended for which insects to help you find the right fit for your property.

Bobbi Dempsey, the original author of this guide, owned a construction business in a rural area for more than a decade, where she used bug zappers to manage mosquitos at job sites near creeks and ponds. She has tested several zappers and determined which features are most important. She’s most familiar with lantern and hanging light bug zappers. Jenna Clark, who updated this guide, researched other zappers, including past Popular Mechanics insect device testing.

We took into account the zappers’ coverage areas, power sources, and energy-efficiency to find the best. We also investigated how the devices handle dead bugs, and made sure to include products that’ll work in various environments and settings.

When it comes to insect control, Black Flag is one of the most recognizable names—because its product work. The manufacturer recommends situating this unit at least 20 feet away from where you gather, but with a claimed coverage area of up to 1.5 acres, that doesn’t affect its performance.

Energy-efficient features include an LED light and a dusk-to-dawn sensor that turns the unit on during insect primetime. It’s relatively quiet, and the soft purple light adds some cool ambiance at night. Additionally, it has a clip-on lure that contains octenol, a chemical that attracts insects. Each lure cartridge lasts about a month.

Looking to zap bugs without a messy cleanup? This bug zapper is for you. All you have to do to clean it up is unscrew it and rinse the tray—it can’t get much easier than that.

And, this zapper is weather-proof so you don’t have to worry about rain breaking your trusty zapper. This device uses 4,000 volts of electricity and covers up to 1,500 square feet, so you can expect bugs in your vicinity to have a bad time.

This affordable option is even more impressive when you consider it does double duty as both a bug zapper and a decorative accent light. You can opt to use either or both functions, and the USB-rechargeable battery lasts up to seven hours. The accent light gives off a cool purple glow.

This zapper uses an octenol lure in addition to the UV LED light for dual insect-attracting power (lure cartridges last up to 30 days). This compact, portable unit can be used anywhere indoors or outside—great for an RV, office, or at a campsite.

Among the pricier of the models that we’ve evaluated, we recommend this zapper as it offers a stylish look and durable, high-quality construction. And, because it’s not technically a zapper, it’s almost totally silent, so it’s fine to put near seating.

Instead of electric shocks, it wipes out insects with a three-pronged approach: the warm UV light combines with a carbon-dioxide lure created by the specially coated surface to attract bugs, and then the built-in fan ensures that any insects that venture near the device will get drawn in and trapped until they die.

This unit is designed for use indoors or in an enclosed or covered area outside. You get the durable high-quality construction you would expect from Black & Decker and reliable performance.

When using it indoors, we recommend positioning it away from windows at night, or you might discover a high volume of insects swarming around outside the glass or screen trying to figure out how to get to the light.

This bug zapper gets high marks from reviewers for its efficiency and reliability. The polycarbonate material is durable and weatherproof, so it’s great to use outdoors in a range of moderate to harsh climates. It might not be as quiet as some other models, but the large coverage area—and the optional cartridge of mosquito attractant that can boost its results—make this a popular choice.

This bug zapper has a classic look that can blend in with your outdoor decor. The fact that it’s solar-powered is a nice energy-efficient and earth-friendly feature.

It’s also versatile, as you can replace the purple UV light with the white LED light (both of which are included) when the seasons change and you only need a regular light.

If you’re looking for an aluminum bug zapper to use indoors, we recommend this 40 watt option from Aspectek. Although this zapper is on the heavier side weighing nearly five pounds, it’s worth the extra bit of elbow grease for its power.

Once moving it to the desired location, setup is a breeze. All you have to do is set it on a solid surface or attach the chain to its hooks. You can worry less about any little ones accidentally getting ahold of the zapper’s electrical grid (thanks to its mesh screen), or getting stung by mosquitos, gnats, flies, moths, or bees when this machine is in action.

If you would get some satisfaction out of personally destroying your insect foes, you might enjoy this option—but it should go without saying that to use this, you must be okay with letting insects invade your personal space before you eliminate them.

Like a high-tech version of a fly swatter, the Zap It! Bug Zapper requires some effort but allows you to pursue and safely dispatch unwanted pests, such as moths or stinging insects inside or outside your home. The electric swatter is also available in two smaller models: medium and mini.

This lightweight bug zapper should be added to your cart if you’re looking for a zapper that may also double as a night light. With three lighting modes (the bug zapper light, a white light, and a flashlight), there will never be a shortage of light when it’s turned on.

Plus, it can be recharged with a USB-C cable and lasts for up to 16 hours using the lighting mode when it’s fully charged. Whether you opt to hang this on a hook or keep it resting on a flat surface, you can rest assured bugs all around you will be zapped with its 360 degrees design.

PM: What’s your preferred design for bug zappers?

B.D.: I tend to like the lantern-style models because they are versatile, offer more options for placement, and often have a decorative look that allows them to blend in discreetly. I’ve also used hanging light models and liked them fine. I’m not a huge fan of handheld models because they involve continuous effort and also require close contact with bugs.

PM: What’s one feature you always prioritize when searching for a new bug zappers?

B.D.: I prefer bug zappers that are as quiet as possible. I’m not a fan of loud zapping noises. Unfortunately, it can be tough to gauge exactly how loud a bug zapper is until you actually use it. This is another reason why I appreciate bug zappers with a large coverage area—that way, you can set it up far from where you’ll be gathering, so the noise won’t be as much of an issue.

PM: What other products do you rely on for warding off bugs?

B.D.: I’m not a fan of harsh chemicals or toxic materials in general, so I try to opt for natural pest repellents whenever possible. I use citronella candles and essential oils such as peppermint. When using bug sprays and similar pesticides, I look for products made from plant-based ingredients. I also use diatomaceous earth as an effective, long-acting way to kill any insects that might get inside the home or garage.

Jenna Clark is a freelance writer who covers commerce, travel, beauty, and lifestyle. Her work has been featured in Insider, the Daily Beast, Well+Good, and Taste of Home. When she's not reviewing the latest products or traveling, you can likely find her at a theme park or watching the latest Broadway show. 

Bobbi Dempsey is the former owner of a construction and property maintenance business and a die-hard DIYer whose main project these days is her 100-plus-year-old home that’s a never-ending series of home improvement challenges and adventures; she has written reviews, product roundups, and shopping guides about drain snakes, all manner of saws, nostalgic toys, and more. She’s an economic justice fellow at Community Change and a reporting fellow at Economic Hardship Reporting Project. In addition to Popular Mechanics, she has written for a range of publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Muscle & Fitness, and Parade. 

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10 Best Bug Zappers for 2024 - Indoor and Outdoor Bug Zappers

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