While the “zap” in the name gives away a large part of how bug zappers work, the system is a bit more complex than just tossing out some voltage and killing wayward bugs. Inside the average bug zapper is an ultraviolet light source, which depending on the model of the zapper could be a light bulb, a fluorescent light tube or even UV LEDs. It’s this light source that attracts insects to the device, causing them to fly in between a grid of wires in hopes of reaching the light within. This is where the zap comes in; the grid contains electrified wires that provide a small shock to any insects that fly inside, killing them and causing them to drop onto a removable tray for easy cleanup.
It’s important to keep in mind that this is just a general description of how they work, of course; different models may have additional features such as scent or pheromone cartridges designed to attract specific types of insects. There also may be some differences in design between bug zappers intended for indoor use and those designed to use outside. Some small units may even be battery powered or built into the form factor of a flyswatter to make killing specific insect pests easier.
For stationary bug zappers, there are two main types: Indoor units and outdoor units. Indoor bug zappers are typically only needed in residential homes if you have problems with bugs in certain areas (such as flies in the kitchen or flying bugs coming in through sliding doors in the summer.) If that’s the case, a bug zapper can be placed around the area where you have the largest problem or near the most obvious entry point.
Outdoor bug zappers are much more commonly used by homeowners, especially during the summer when everyone wants to spend time outdoors. The best locations to place bug zappers outdoors are typically around the edges of the area where you plan to spend time, such as the outskirts of a pool or play area, so that insects will be drawn to the zappers instead of the people within that perimeter. It can also be beneficial to place a bug zapper near outdoor tables where you’ll be serving food, just so long as it’s far enough away that wayward zapped bugs won’t fall out and land on the table. Garden hangers and shepherd’s hooks can be used to hold up the bug zapper units wherever you place them.
Because bug zappers use electricity, keep in mind that you’re likely going to need extension cords to provide them with the juice they need. This means that you’ll need cords that are rated for outdoor use, as well as a grounded outdoor outlet to plug them into. It’s also important that the zappers are mounted in such a way that pets or children aren’t going to grab them; even though bug zappers don’t provide enough of a zap to be dangerous to people or pets, it could still hurt or startle them and cause them to knock the bug zapper over (which could then hit someone or become a tripping hazard.)
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