Propane-powered Mosquito Traps: What's the deal? Do they work?

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If you are going to have a party, toss pieces of dry ice into a ditch a few hundred feet away. They go for the carbon dioxide in your breath, the dry ice provides plenty of that, makes them head for the source.
Some have good luck with the traps, some don't. And there are some possible reasons for the disparity. For one thing, wind direction. If there is a very gentle air movement sending the machine's attractant, but the mosquitoes heading for it find you before they get to it, you would be saying that it isn't doing the job. But if the neighbors on both sides of you use them, you would be saying you don't need one.
Most anything that makes carbon dioxide can serve as an attractant, even the family dog. If you decide to get a device, be sure to decide where your prevailing winds come from, and if wind speed is 3 miles an hour or more, turn the unit off to save gas.
Also, consider taking 100mg. Vitamin B before you're going to be in the yard, especially during the evening. And Avon Skin-So-Soft might not be a bad idea, either. Neither are going to hurt, might help.
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on 8/15/2009 10:45 AM (ET) Yard Guy wrote the following:

The best mosquito killers are Bats. Build some Bat houses around your yard. Bats require no electricity, chemicals, devices,or other man made objects, other than the bat house, to eliminate mosquitoes and other insects, . http://www.batconservation.org/content/Bathouseimportance.html
--

Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
  Click to see the full signature.
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wrote:

I thought that the study that showed bats eat up to 600 mosquitos an hour was disproved.
The researchers had starved the bats and then released them into a room with only mosquitos. Of course they ate the mosquitos. But in real life, they much prefer the juicier moths and larger insects and rarely touch mosquitos.
I listen in to the bats around here using an ultrasonic bat detector and you can tell when they go into "close in high resolution sonar mode" right before catching a bug. Its called a feeding buzz and let me tell you, they come few and far between. If the bats were eating mosquitos, the buzz would be continuous what with all the millions of skeeters around here.
So while bats are good, I dont think they're quite the skeeter eating machines they're made out to be.
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willshak wrote:

While I've got nothing against bats, and wouldn't mind if there were some around my place (I don't think there are any), I can't believe that a mosquito is large enough to have an acoustic profile that would result in it reflecting enough sound back to a bat to allow for echo location.
Or that there are enough calories in a mosquito to be worth the effort.
In other words, while I can believe that bats can detect, and eat, a lot of flying insects (moths, etc) I simply don't believe that mosquitoes form any significant portion of their diet.
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That's just plain ignorance. Bats eat lots of mosquitoes, and it doesn't matter what portion of the bats diet mosquitoes make.
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Chas Hurst wrote:

A bat that eats one mosquito per night would not it a good reason to try to attract bats to my back yard.
And you didn't respond to my comment that I question if a mosquito is large enough to be detectible to the echo-location mechanism that bats use to locate and consume their flying food items at night.
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"A single bat can swallow 600 to 1,000 mosquitoes an hour, depending on the bat species. An individual bat feeds for an hour or so at dusk and retreats to its home site to rest. A second feeding may take place near dawn. With about 100 small brown bats in a typical single colony, a lot of mosquitoes can disappear in a single night. "
http://news.ufl.edu/2004/10/27/bats-n-skeeters /
Moron.
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wrote:

http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~insects/proprom.htm
"Insectivorous Bats
Every so often, a well-meaning conservation group promotes bats to eliminate mosquitoes from areas where nuisance has become intolerable. This undoubtedly leads to rediscovery of research conducted in the 1950s indicating that bats released in a room filled with mosquitoes could catch up to 10 mosquitoes per minute. The research was conducted to measure the effectiveness of echolocation in insectivorous bat species. The results have been extrapolated to suggest that wild bats can consume 600 mosquitoes per hour. Using that figure, a colony of 500 bats will remove 250,000 mosquitoes each hour and theoretically afford mosquito control for an entire neighborhood. Research since that time has shown that insectivorous bats are opportunistic feeders and that mosquitoes make up a very small percentage of their natural diet. Bats' behavior when locked in a room with nothing to feed upon but mosquitoes has no bearing on their behavior in the wild. Bats feed on the same insects that turn up in bug zappers and are no more effective for controlling mosquitoes than their electronic equivalent. Providing habitat to enhance bat populations is an admirable activity for conservation purposes. Using mosquito control as the reason to initiate public interest is misleading at best."
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Yard Guy wrote

It clearly must be when its known that bats eat huge numbers of mosquitos in a single sitting.
And that is trivial to prove by killing the bats and examining their stomach contents.
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Yard Guy wrote:

When I lived in the Chicago area, a local TV station did a test of various mosquito units. As I recall, they found these units to work real well. On the down side, they were expensive and expensive to run. They found that the bug zappers not to do as well (I'm digging this out from about 3 years ago, so it might not be real accurate). Also, the one thing I remember is that products like "Bug Free Backyard" work almost as well and are very cheap comparatively. You do have to apply them every 3 weeks or so. I've used this stuff in the Chicago suburbs and have been very happy with the results .... probably poisoning me and everything around me.
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Art Todesco wrote:

Thats not surprising given that many in mosquito infested areas find that they dont see any mosquitos inside the house while the lights are on in the evening, and get them zooming around you in bed with the lights off.
They clearly do prefer the dark.
It would be interesting to see if part of the reason for the variable results some get with propane traps is just whether they are located where its dark and where its not.

Yeah, the maintenance man at one place I worked at believed in those and applied them when there was a big outside barbeque at work in the evening. This is in an irrigation area where the mosquitos have 6 engines. Worked very well.

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Have you considred building bat houses? Environmentally friendly, affordable, and feuled by mosquitos... Bats eat a thousand mosquitos a night, and are rumored to be much more effective than birds at eliminating mosquitos (as they don't eat as many dragonflies). All you need is a reliable water source for them and some cedar, and some non-squeemish family members. Apperently they also eat some of those grub-laying beetles that ruin you lawn.
John
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John wrote:

Bats carry some pretty lethal diseases.

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John wrote:

I've got nothing against bats, and wouldn't mind if there were bats flying around my place at night (there might very well be - I don't know - it's hard to see when it's dark out).
But it's a fallacy that bats eat lots of mosquitoes.
I have no doubt that in more tropical or sub-tropical areas, rural, lots of standing water, marshes, etc, that there are clouds of mosquitoes where the bats can just fly around with their mouths open and collect dozens of mosquitoes in a single pass and repeat that several times a minute for several hours.
But in the northern half of the US and southern Canada, in urban or even suburban residential back yards, you're not going to have these dense clouds of mosquites and large open flyways for the bats to swoop in with their mouths open and collect them.
Individual mosquitoes are too small to be detected by the bat's echo-location system, and a single mosquito wouldn't give the bat enough calories to make the effort worth it.
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Am I to assume that there is a debate regarding these propane-powered traps, and if by the sake of their operation they end up attracting more mosquitoes to an area than would ordinarily be there in the first place, and that they may not capture these excess mosquitoes, thereby making the mosquito problem worse for the backyard the unit is located in?
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Yard Guy wrote:

Not that so much as many cant seem to grasp that by their nature they are going to be quite dependant on the wind.
With that sort of variable, its not surprising that few can really grasp the basics of when they work well and when they dont.
The other complication is that counterflow traps work a lot better that traps that dont have counterflow as well as the propane.

That wouldnt matter if they then trap the mosquitos effectively.

They should do that if they are well designed.

There is no evidence of that. Like with anything tho, some work better than others.
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big-box
any of them

remember
Magnet.
My limited experience with the controversy stems from the many factors that influence the effectiveness of the traps (prevailing wind, landscaping, etc.)
I maintain 2 Liberty Plus / Mosquito Magnets (cordless 1 acre version) for three years now.
One for me (mine) and one for in-laws (theirs).
After many attempts to find optimal locations by moving the traps around the two properties my results are as follows.
Mine is very effective, catching lots of mosquitos and a noticeable reduction in mosquito troubles. Theirs is not effective, catching relatively few and having continual mosquito troubles.
Mine is on the edge/corner of the yard at the top of a sloping open lawn with bushes around the perimeter and away from the house.
Theirs is at the edge of a heavily wooded lot with sloping hill, a creek nearby, rock outcrops, oddly shaped yard and open space/patio bordered by low thick bushes.
When i purchased my traps the hardware guy offered me an annecdote about how one year there was a run on their mosquito trap inventory. The traps were returned in droves with the primary complaint being they made the mosquito problem worse. When he asked about the location of the mosquito traps it was mostly placed on the deck or patio. So, the traps were just attracting the mosquitos to the areas where people did not want them.
hth robb
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robb wrote:

The location of the trap in the yard should make no difference - and I would say that you want the trap to be located where you or other people usually are in the yard - not in some distant, isolated corner.
The idea that wind is an issue is bogus. If it's too windy for the trap to work then it's also too windy for a mosquito to find and land on me as well.
It seems that these devices are good at attracting mosquitoes, but not catching them.
If they attract more mosquitoes to their immediate area than would ordinarily be there, and if they don't vacuum up 100% of those excess mosquites AS WELL AS capture some of the ones that were already there, then the devices are clearly not beneficial to have.
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Yard Guy wrote:

Wrong. You clearly dont want to be attracting mosquitos to where the humans are.
And since they work on CO2 and attractant, you clearly will only attract mosquitos from downwind.

You're wrong. That will attract mosquitos to that area and if the trap doesnt get them into the trap quickly, they will start biting the humans there.

Like hell it is.

Light wind makes it harder for mosquitos to work out where the CO2 and smells are coming from.

Doesnt explain why he ends up with lots of mosquitos in his trap and far fewer in the parents' trap with an identical design.

Yes, but clearly they do trap lots of mosquitos at his place.
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Rod Speed wrote:

I want the mosquitoes that ARE close to me to be attracted and captured BY THE TRAP. That's not going to happen if the trap is 100 feet from me in some isolated corner of the yard.

Wind shmind.
First you say that wind is bad for these traps to operate, now you say that a downwind is necessary. Which one is it?

Well guess what. Just me being there will attract mosquitos to that area. So we're back to square one.

That's the problem with these things. They seem to do a terrible job at actually capturing them.

Again, your statements are contradictory.
- "you clearly will only attract mosquitos from downwind" - "Light wind makes it harder for mosquitos to work out where the CO2 and smells are coming from"
Can a "downwind" also be a "light wind"?
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