Bug Zapper vs. Bug Light – Pros and Cons

Yellow Light Bulb

With summer quickly approaching (even if the weather hasn’t caught up yet), the bugs will be making their return sooner rather than later. And with the bugs will come the bites, the stings, the itches, and even dangerous allergic reactions.

So let’s use light to keep the bugs away or kill them when they get here. Two common light-based solutions to insects are bug lights and bug zappers. While they may sound similar, there are some real differences between the two, in terms of price, lethality, and design.

Bug Zapper Light

Bug Zappers

Bug zappers work by attracting insects with ultraviolet light, most commonly using a fluorescent bulb that outputs UV light. When the bugs make it into the zapper, they are electrocuted and vaporized.

Pros of Bug Zappers

  • Kill insects so they are unable to reproduce
  • UV light attracts bugs into the zapper
  • Can cover large areas up to 1 1/2 acres
  • May also use carbon dioxide to attract mosquitoes

Cons of Bug Zappers

  • Lethal to both harmful and beneficial insects
  • Dead bugs “mist” created by vaporized bug parts
  • More expensive than bug lights
  • Replacement light bulbs for zappers more expensive than bug lights

Incandescent Bug Light

Bug Lights

Bug lights work by shifting the light output of a typical incandescent or CFL bulb further into the yellow part of the visible light spectrum. Insects can more easily see light at the higher, violet and ultraviolet end of the spectrum. The bug light doesn’t repel or kill bugs, it just makes it more difficult for them to see light and be attracted to it.

Pros of Bug Lights

  • Simple and cheaper than zappers
  • Screws into standard light sockets
  • Non-lethal, so beneficial bugs will not be killed
  • Available in incandescent and CFL versions
  • Available in a wide variety of wattages

Cons of Bug Lights

  • Once bugs are there, more will be attracted regardless of the light
  • Doesn’t eliminate bluish light output altogether, so some bugs will be attracted

So Which One is Better?

If you are trying to keep insects away from your porch, backyard, or other outdoor area, it is really a matter of taste between the zapper and bug light.

Do you want to kill the bugs and deal with the potentially contaminated “mist” of bug parts? Or would you prefer a non-lethal and healthier solution?

Do you mind the lower color temperature light of the yellow bulbs, or do you need something brighter?

Can you keep your kids and pets away from the zapper’s mist of vaporized bugs? If not, consider a bug light.

Shop Bug Lights & Zapper Bulbs Now

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Nick Heeringa

Nick is a writer, publisher and editor for the Topbulb blog. Check back often for more of his writing on lighting applications and announcements for the Topbulb website and blog!