Bug zappers vs. bug vacuums


Bug vacuums are more environmentally friendly than zappers. However, they’re not suited to ridding an area of flying pests like biting gnats or mosquitoes.

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Bug zappers vs. bug vacuums: Which is better?

It’s difficult to enjoy the outdoors when you’re constantly pestered by flies and mosquitoes buzzing around your head. It’s equally hard to relax inside your home if you just saw a spider crawl underneath your couch. Bug zappers and vacuums can help solve those problems.

Both promise the same end result — clearing your immediate vicinity of pests — but they do so in very different manners. Those who prefer to kill bugs in an outdoor location will appreciate the effectiveness of a bug zapper, while those looking to catch bugs in their home and release them outside should look to bug vacuums. Keep reading for a detailed comparison of the pros and cons of each of these items.

Bug zappers

Bug zappers utilize electricity to quickly and effectively kill insects. They’re intended to rid an area of flying pests; however, they can also kill crawling bugs if one comes into contact with the electric grid. On most models, the electric grid is covered by a secondary non-powered grid to prevent a human from accidentally getting zapped.

What you’ll like about bug zappers

Bug zappers offer a chemical-free way to kill bugs. They allow you to enjoy your outdoor spaces without having to use an insect repellent on yourself or a fogger on your property. Some are also suitable for killing insects inside the home. 

What you should know before buying a bug zapper

When considering buying a bug zapper, it’s important to understand they come in two main types: stationary and racket. 

Stationary bug zappers: These are designed to be hung up or placed on a flat surface. They feature a UV light that attracts insects, and many can also be equipped with a chemical attractant. While most people place stationary bug zappers outdoors, some models can be used indoors. They’re most effective when used at night.

Bug zapper rackets: Bug zapper rackets look much like small tennis rackets, but instead of strings, they have an electric grid. Unlike with stationary models, you have to swing rackets through the air for them to be effective. This means they’re not a good choice for those who prefer a passive approach. Rackets can be used daytime and nighttime, and indoors or outside.

Best stationary bug zapper

Flowtron Electronic Insect Killer

Flowtron Electronic Insect Killer

Equipped with a bright ultraviolet bulb to draw in insects, this Flowtron model offers one acre of coverage. There’s a place to add an attractant cartridge to further improve its effectiveness, and it has a waterproof build that allows it to stand up to the elements.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Best bug zapper racket

Kilgone Large Electric Fly Swatter

Kilgone Large Electric Fly Swatter

This bug zapper racket is a versatile option, thanks to an included stand that allows it to be used like stationary models. It features a double trigger to prevent accidental activation, and it’s USB rechargeable so you don’t have to worry about buying batteries for it.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Bug vacuums

Unlike bug zappers, bug vacuums are designed to trap bugs, not kill them. They rely on suction to pull insects into their catch chamber, at which point you can take them outside to release them. 

What you’ll like about bug vacuums

Bug vacuums have long nozzles that allow you to comfortably catch insects without having to get too close to them. This makes it easier to get to pests in crevices or other out-of-reach spots. They’re lightweight, so most people can easily manage them, and they’re usually affordably priced.

What you should know before buying a bug vacuum

Before buying a bug vacuum, consider the size of the insects you plan on catching. If you only intend to catch small bugs, you can choose a model with a small nozzle. Those who need to catch large insects should choose a model with a large nozzle.

Bug vacuums come in toy and adult models. Toy models often feature a magnifying glass that makes it easy for kids to study their catch before releasing them. Adult models have more powerful suction.

Best toy bug vacuum

Nature Bound Bug Vacuum

Nature Bound Bug Vacuum

A fun and educational toy, this bug catcher should keep your child entertained for hours. It features a built-in night vision light, a removable capture chamber, a magnifier and a belt clip. Also, its bright colors make it easy to spot if left in the yard.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best adult bug vacuum

BugZooka WB100 Bug Catcher Vacuum

BugZooka WB100 Bug Catcher Vacuum

Rather than relying on batteries which can run out of juice at the most inopportune times, the BugZooka has a manual pump on the end. This makes it powerful enough to suck up strong insects that lesser models can’t.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Should you buy a bug zapper or a bug vacuum?

Deciding between a big zapper and bug vacuum comes down to your intentions. If you believe the only good bug is a dead bug, a bug zapper is the way to go. Those who have a conservationist approach will prefer the no-kill method a big vacuum offers. Bug zappers are best for killing flying bugs, while vacuums are better suited to sucking up crawling insects. 

Brett Dvoretz is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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