Introduction: Mosquito Zapper

Picture of Mosquito Zapper

Modify a bug zapper to enable it to attract and kill mosquitos in huge numbers. Photo shows catch from one evening! Zappers usually are not effective against mosquitos, even when chemical lures are used along with them. The effective mosquito killers use propane and are large and expensive. CAUTIONS: This project requires disassembly and reassembly of an electronic device, and that should only be done by someone experienced in electrical matters and done with extreme caution. The finished project will also need to be used with extreme caution in order to safeguard people, pets and wildlife. ADDED CAUTION: Some modern zappers store the zap voltage on a capacitor that is wired directly across the two zap screens. You can get a jolt from touching the screens even after the unit is unplugged. You can bleed off the capacitor charge after unplugging the unit by connecting the two grids together using a width of wet paper towel wrapped around a plastic rod, such as can be cut from a cheap plastic coat hanger.
To see my related Instructables, including "Deer Fly Traps," click on "unclesam" just below the title above or in the INFO box to the right. On the new page that appears, repeatedly click "NEXT" to see all of them.

Step 1: Disassemble Zapper

Picture of Disassemble Zapper

Any electronic bug zapper of any size will do. Zapper consists of two concentric cylinders made of coarse metal screen and fluroescent bulbs that attract some kinds of bugs. Mosquitos are attracted to warm-blooded mammals, however, and this project adds a sleeve of heavy black plastic to the outside of the inner zap screen. The bulbs heat the plastic sleeve, which attracts the mosquitos. Plastic sheet is an electrical insulator, but the machine will still zap with it in place.
Remove The protective plastic cage and remove the light bulbs. If these steps do not also remove the top electronic cover, leave it in place, no modifications to the electronics are necessary. Unsolder the wire that comes from out of the top of the unit and attaches to the top of the outer wire zap screen. Carefully remove the outer zap screen and any ceramic spacers. Cut heavy black plastic, such as 6 mil landscaping plastic, to a size and shape that will go around the inner zap screen once with a some overlap. Secure the plastic to the inner zap screen using an ordinary office stapler as far up as you can reach with it. If the top of the plastic needs securing, make a complete wrap of electrical tape around it, plus some overlap.

Step 2: Reassemble the Zapper

Picture of Reassemble the Zapper

Reinstall the ceramic spacers and the outer zap screen, with the screen's former electrical connecion spot near the disconnected wire. Resolder the electrical wire to the outer zap screen. Make sure your zap screens are oriented straight and concentric with one another, then reinstall the bulbs. Put the outer protective plastic screen back on the machine, and the top cap if that was also removed. Plug in the zapper and make sure the bulbs light and that there is no electrical arcing yet within the machine. Do a zap test by securing a small wad of paper towel to the end of a WOODEN OR PLASTIC stick with a rubber band and moistening only the piece of towel. Poke the stick in through the first zap screen, and you should get a zap. Unplug the zapper and DON'T PLAY WITH IT.
Hang the zapper somewhere outdoors where it will not attract mosquitos to where people might gather, up where it cannot be reached by people or pets.

Step 3: Clean the Zapper

Picture of Clean the Zapper

You may need to clean the dead mosquitos off the zapper as often as every morning. UNPLUG THE ZAPPER WHENEVER YOU DO THIS!!! You can remove the protective plastic cage and use a soft plastic brush. You may want to install thumbscrews to make the removal easier. I cut away some of the protective cage so I could just blow off the bugs using an electric leaf blower (ZAPPER UNPLUGGED!). Doing this makes the zapper more dangerous, which was not a problem in my situation. Cats, squirrels and people can more easily get shocked with the protection removed, however. It should be possible to snip out the plastic cage panels and use hinges and latches to keep the zapper more safe while still enabling it to be easily opened for cleaning. NEVER FORGET THAT THIS THING CAN KILL, AND DON'T DEPEND ON OTHERS TO UNDERSTAND THAT IT IS UNSAFE. IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO ENSURE THAT THEY CANNOT GET INJURED. FOLLOW ALL SAFETY PRECAUTIONS INCLUDED WITH THE ZAPPER.


neofling (author)2009-05-28

has anyone tried painting the bulbs with black paint rather than using the plastic? is there anreason i couldn't just tape black plastic sheeting directly to the bulbs?

unclesam (author)neofling2009-05-30

neofling, you will find discussion about painting the bulbs in some of the posted comments and replies, but so far I have heard of no one who tried it. If you do, I hope you will take photos and report your results here. I would use paint that can take high temperature, such as sold at auto parts stores for spray painting engine blocks. Also clean the bulbs first with alcohol. Taping plastic to the bulbs would probably attract the skeeters, but the bulbs do get hot. I would worry about the tape or plastic melting or catching fire. Also note in the comments that the smaller model bug zappers appear to be ineffective under any condition. U.S.

AlexanderP70 (author)unclesam2016-04-24

Perhaps grill paint? Or engine paint ~400 deg.

bassdr (author)AlexanderP702017-07-11

As stated , mosquitoes are attracted to Co2 not necessarily heat. By painting the bulb you render it ineffective to the insects its designed to attract and kill to only kill a small amount of mosquitoes. The best mosquito control is a product you sprinkle on the ground where you will be entertaining or like to sit in the evening. If it is windy it limits its effectiveness. Dump all containers of water that may be used for breeding. Water features such as waterfalls and bog gardens can have gold fish added, they will eat the larva. Install pumps to circulate the water, mosquitoes don't lay eggs in moving water. Also fans disrupt their flight so they go where they can maneuver more easily. Removing the mosquito friendly environment is more effective than trying to kill them.

devin8 (author)unclesam2009-07-03

Hello Sam. I want to build a bug zapper that will kill yellow jackets. We have scads of them in hills of Bay Area, and they chase us inside in August/Sept, when eating outside in warm evenings would be delightful. Scent based traps are not effective enough. They kill some, but I think the wasps are getting more selective against that bait type.

I'm thinking high voltage DC power supply (~4kV), and perhaps 1-2mA with a ~10mm gap between screens. Yellow jacket lands, crawls across, and whap! Any suggestions on target voltage/amperage? Would you do this with a high voltage power supply, or with cap discharge? Check out the following mfg for the power supply. Looks reasonably cheap to me. I've heard from friends that the high voltage cap discharge "tennis rackets" don't have enough punch to kill a yellow jacket.

unclesam (author)devin82009-07-04

devin8, I would try zapper only as last resort for controlling yellow jackets. You do not include configuration for the zapper, so I cannot evaluate your idea. You do not need dc to kill bugs, the effective zappers use an ac high voltage transformer. A zapper can be lethal and a fire hazard, also costly, so I would look at other forms of bug control. I modified my zapper in attempt to attract and kill biting flies. It surely would have killed them, but it did not attract them, so I unmodified it and put it back on the shelf. I posted the instructable because the modified zapper unexpectedly attracted and killed zillions of mosquitos, something that could be of use to people bothered by them. Your zapper will not kill yellow jackets if it does not attract them to it, and if you have an effective attractant, I should think you could make simple, effective, cheap traps for them, without electricity. Something like the fly traps presented in instructables, except you would not use stinky meat but something attractive to yellow jackets. I have seen them collect in a soft drink bottle that was left with a couple inches of sugary (not artificially sweetened) soft drink in it. Why not put an inch of sugary soft drink in a glass or plastic wide-mouth jar and drop a funnel onto the top of the jar. The funnel would have a hole about the size of a US nickel, and would sit on the rim of the jar, not go down inside the jar. The bugs would find their way inside, but could not crawl or fly out. You would not use any kind of poison or bug spray, which would repel the bugs. When my zapper would not attract deer flies, I searched Internet sources, including Wikipedia, to learn the life cycle and habits of the deer fly. I designed inexpesnive, effective, passive traps and posted an instructable about them. I have not done such a study for yellow jackets, but unlike mosquitos and biting flies, they are not attracted to humans directly, unless the humans wear products that smell like their food. They look for food, water, nesting sites and mates. You might want to look around your area to see if you could eliminate whatever is attracting them to your home. If there are fruit plants or grapes growing nearby, the yellow jackets will keep coming. If not, try to eliminate anything else outdoors that might attract them, such as waste food, fruit, bottles, cans, etc. Also look around for their nests and shoot them with the long-range wasp spray (they also make nests under ground, sometimes as large as a dinner plate, with only a small entry hole in the surface of the ground). You might also be able to trick them when you are eating outside by burning a circle of tiki torches or smudge pots. Smoke really does have an effect on bees and wasps. I designed and built a zapper to kill the big, fat carpenter bees that bore holes into my wood house. It was several feet long, had five tight wires about a half inch from each other. I powered it with a transformer sold as a replacement for the one that is used in the large bug zappers, found them on the internet. Not cheap, but they really zap. I put my zappers under the roof overhang, out of direct weather, in areas where the bees had already bored holes and made nests inside the wood. I did not post this trap as an instructable, because I worried it would be too dangerous for novices. The zappers worked very well, however, the transformers kept burning out. The dead bees would remain on the trap, and I believe current continued to flow through their bodies. The transformers were not intended to deliver current continuously, and the wiring burned out. I believe you would have the same problem trying to zap yellow jackets. I eventually studied the life cycle and habits of the carpenter bees and came up with other kinds of effective measures against them. I believe you could find cheaper and safer effective ways to control yellow jackets than a zapper. If you do, post an instructable on the topic. Unclesam

CAbeachguy (author)unclesam2011-06-18

The reason I'm looking at this instructable thread is because I wanted to build one to deal with carpenter bees. I have a log house and they are eating it up. I'd love to know of the "other kinds of efficient measures against them you have come up with. And...I'm desperate at this point.


unclesam (author)CAbeachguy2011-06-19

CAbeachguy, nothing more disheartening than seeing your property being slowly destroyed. There are are patented commercial traps you can buy, strips of wood with decoy holes drilled in them, sticky stuff inside to trap the bees. They should turn up in an Internet search, has a video that reveals enough detail that someone could make their own. I believe the commercial traps are treated with a lure, whose composition is no revealed. I have virtually eliminated carpenter bees at my rural house using two strategies, over a period of several years. When the bees are active, I go outside with a cheap lightweight WalMart tennis racket, swat them to the ground then stomp them. Not all will come close to the ground, so I bought an inexpensive child-size single-shot .22 rifle, use it as a long-barrel pistol, shooting LR shotshell "pepper" shot, sold at WalMart. Get the kind that has a clear plastic nose, not the crimped metal nose. Each ball is about a third the size of the head of a pin, and will not travel far, good for about 15-foot kill. The rounds can cause injury and property damage, so care must be used. There are holes in the shot pattern that are larger than a bee, so it might take a couple shots. You do not use the gun's sights, but hold it at arms length and sight down the barrel at the moving bee, trying to anticipate where it might stop for just an instant.
The tactic with the tennis racket is that you must approach the bee slowly and wait until it looks away from you. You absolutely positively will not hit the bee if you swing when it is looking at you or from the side. You hold the racket at arms length at an upward angle and slowly step toward the bee. When you think you are close enough, freeze and wait for the bee to lose interest in you and look away, then swat downward, watch to make sure where the bee ends up so you can stomp it. Most of the bees you see are actually males, who guard the nest but do not bore the holes and do not nurture the young. The males do not have stingers. An Internet search will show you how to tell which are the females, which can sting. Killing the males will not directly stop the boring or the nurturing of new bees, but it will remove their protection of the nests, so I kill them anyway. There are wasps that lay their eggs in the carpenter bee nests, and their young hatch and eat the bee young. I figure that removing the males, which cannot sting you, is part of the eradication process. The prime target is the females, so you want to try everything you can do to get those. They are easiest to recognize when they are returning to the nest after gathering pollen, they will be heavily coated with it.
After following these strategies for several years, the number of bees dropped dramatically around my house. Last year I saw only about a dozen, and I killed all of those. This year so far I have seen maybe eight, killed all of those, haven't seen another for several weeks. You must be vigilant and active for these tactics to work, so if you do not have the time yourself maybe you could recruit some responsible teens to do the work.

devin8 (author)unclesam2009-07-13

Thanks Sam. I'm back from vacation. I appreciate your response. I have made similar traps using empty milk jugs. They catch a few. I find that the wasps tend to often find their way out, or can't find their way in. As such, I'd still appreciate some feedback on the zapper idea. Curious why your power supplies burned out. I was thinking about just buying the DC high voltage power supply from the link (or building one from a circuit diagram in "Art of Electronics"), feeding it w/ ~12V DC from a laptop brick, having it put out ~2000V to the load. I'm thinking the load would just consist of resistance in series to prevent an overcurrent condition, and capacitance across output to build up the charge. The output is parallel screens. I talked to a friend that configures laser power supplies, and he suggested about 1uF as adequate capacitance. I figure I'd try enough resistance to generate a 5-10sec recharge time for the cap. The tennis racket style bug zappers use DC voltage to charge a cap. They run at about 500V. The bug shorts the cap. I think the idea should work. AC probably works better, and is a cheaper circuit, but I think they'd be more dangerous. Did I mention that I stepped in yellow jacket nest just before posting this inquiry? Got stung about a dozen times. This is about payback!!!!

jbodden1 (author)devin82011-06-08

Seems to me that if you want to bait yellowjackets, try hamburger - those suckers just love raw meat! And watermelon juice...
How about a trap that just stuns them and they fall into water? Bugs can't swim - water beetles and such excepted I guess.
I do know that I have to make special watering dishes for the honeybees or they fall into the dog bowls and drown just trying to get a sip.
I wanted to figure out a way to coax yellowjackets into a blender but that is still a work in progress... and best way to kill yellowjackets in house or attic is with steam cleaner. Wait until nightfall, they all return to nest - steam will cook them even in flight and kill all eggs.

unclesam (author)devin82009-07-04

devin8, clarification about yellow jacket trap, similar to traps posted on instructables for collecting house flies. The small end of the funnel does hang down into the wide-mouth jar, with the lowest part of the funnel above the top of the level of the sugary fluid, but the large end of the funnel rests on the rim of the jar, sealing it, rather than the entire funnel going down into the jar. Several of these traps would be placed outside around the house and yard, cleaned and refreshed as needed, as part of a campaign to reduce the yellow jacket population, not put out only when you planned to spend time out in the yard. U.S.

jbodden1 (author)neofling2011-06-08

Depends on the bulb- you might just burn paint and put the bugs off - if all you want is heat try some ceramic resistors - you can even dial them in to 'body temperature' if you want. Producing just the amount of heat you want, without producing light is likely to be more energy efficient.

truthseeker53 (author)2016-06-19

I've got 4 unmodified zappers going, have near zero mosquitoes early AM, several toward evening. What I need is source(s) for HV transformers. I test zappers with wet Q-tip.

JackRift (author)2012-03-05

Mosquitos are attracted to the CO2 from your breath. Any time I need to clear an are I get some dry ice and set it at least 20 feet away in an open cooler. Maybe no snap and pop but very lethal especially if the cooler is highly contrasting with the environment


AlexanderP70 (author)JackRift2016-04-24

Hah yeah, technically, co2 is hot as your body temperature. When you breathe New York winter cold air turns body temperature and condenses into fog-like breath.(^-^)

AlexanderP70 (author)2016-04-24

Hello im new to instructable commenting; do i get notified from a reply? Probably an invention forum like page?

bigbadm (author)2012-05-28

first of all, thanks for advice. ive opted for unrolling plastic within inner screen as i dont have a soldering iron.
also, i still managed to get a shock from screens after i had unplugged and removed bulb! also, are you sure there no fire hazard with plastic heating up?

unclesam (author)bigbadm2012-05-28

bigbadm, it is not important for the entire bulb to be covered, it is all right for light to get out at the ends.
There could be a fire hazard with the plastic heating up, that is why I went to all that trouble to place it away from the bulb and outside the inner wire grid. It also depends on what kind of plastic you use and how stiff it is. The bulb heat, or wind, etc, could cause your plastic to crinkle or shrink and touch the bulb, which would increase the fire hazard.
For the sake of your peace of mind, you might want to try an alternative to the black plastic sheet, suggested by others' comments, which I have never tried, and paint the bulb black. I would use a spray paint sold for painting wood stoves, which should withstand the heat produced by the bulb and certainly should not catch fire from the heat of the bulb. I have no idea what effect the paint would have on the life of the bulb. I would clean the glass with alcohol before painting, and I would not try to paint the bulb all the way to either of its ends. A more available paint that withstands high temps, though not as high as stove paint, is paint sold at auto parts stores especially for painting auto engine parts. The engine compartment of a car certainly gets hotter than the zapper bulb.
You say you received a shock from the screens after you unplugged and removed the bulb. Do you mean that you unplugged the entire unit or that you unplugged the bulb from its socket? The zapper portion of the unit contines to work even if the bulb has been reomved. I cannot imagine how you received a shock from the screens if you unplugged the entire unit and removed the bulb. I have never seen a unit that contained a capacitor or any other energy storage device. Your unit may have an electronic design that I have not seen before. Judging from your experience, I would caution that you use a dry wooden stick with piece of wet paper towel rubber-banded to its end to test for zaps and connect the two grids together, to drain off any charge, after you unplug the unit, if you expect to come in contact with the grids.
Also note my general safety warning that someone who is not accustomed to working with electrical equipment may not want to work on or use this project without partnering with someone who is. There is a risk of injury, death and fire.
Do post a comment on your final result and how it works.

AlexanderP70 (author)unclesam2016-04-24

Hah yeah uncle sam knows best(^~^)

rbennett8 (author)unclesam2012-08-27

hares an easier and safer way to discharge the caps a screwdriver with it literally plugged in to the ground hole of your outlet no water plastic wood or coat hanger required

unclesam (author)bigbadm2012-05-30

bigbadm, I have figured out why you received a shock from the screens even after unplugging your zapper. As a result of your input, I will add another safety precaution in the opening step of the Instructable. My old zappers produced the high voltage for the zap by using a high-volatage AC transformer. The secondary of the transfomer is wired directly to the two grids. When the unit is unplugged, all power is stopped. Your unit apparently generates the high zap voltage using an electronic voltage multiplier circuit, which charges a high-voltage DC capacitor that is wired directly across the two grids. When you unplug the unit, voltage can still be stored on that capacitor, and you can get a jolt from touching the grids. The charge can be drained off the capacitor after the unit is unplugged by inserting a dry wooden stick or (better) a plastic rod, such as can be cut from a cheap plastic coat hanger. Roll a couple of layers of paper towel, about an inch wide, around the end of the stick and fasten it with a small rubber band. Touch a few drops of water to just moisten the towel, then insert the wet part through the grids to test for a zap, or touch both grids at the same time to bleed all charge off the capacitor after the unit has been unplugged.
Thanks for your input, Unclesam.

relaxed83 (author)2014-06-23

The black plastic did not work for me and it actually started to melt and arc. I am not sure what was in my plastic to cause it to conduct electricity but I had to remove it...Also the lights did not generate enough heat to make it attractive towards mosquitoes... what I decides to do was order a cheap 50 watt adjustable aquarium heater to tape and let dangle inside by the bulbs ... I';ll set it for a low temp like 98.1 degrees or something similar...since it is water proof, has a thermostat, it should work great... It will produce heat which was the idea behind the black plastic around the lights area and it's protected by the zapper's hood... I have water proof electrical splitter that I will use to plug in both the light and the heater. I'll let everyone know how it works out. I thought about using a heat tape but couldn't figure out how to make it stay on and besides this is much cheaper and 'safer'. I am a little concerned that since it is a submersible heater that it may over heat but if it is set low enough it shouldn't be an issue. I've had aquariums before and know that they are adjustable... and if it burns out it was only 10 bucks... they are even cheaper on ebay... I bought this one on amazon because I have amazon prime and don't want to wait!

AlexanderP70 (author)relaxed832016-04-24

Ah cool idea, maybe you can place a heatsink to balance it. Just test it first and leave it on with heatsink(copper or aluminum) and record the different temp in kelvin and divide it by the hour and set the temp acordingly for the time you going to use it and furthermore a timer(on the most annoying time for feed) thus leaving it on may rise to bake a turkey.

wasim92 (author)2016-03-14

how can i run mosquito zapper without battery and can i run with direct electricity?

DonnieD2 (author)2015-04-18

I have mostly a fly problem. Can I not just coat some honey or something somewhere that would attract the flies to the inside of the insect killer and then they would get zapped on the way in? This seemed to me to be the easiest solution to attract them?

CentTxun (author)2014-06-15

Might want to try some Truvia (Erythritol) on those flys instead of using it in coffee. A new study indicates it's an effective fly attract-er and killer:

and may be patented for that

InDaClub (author)2012-10-05

You can try using Aquarium with fishes, that might produce CO2 and duct it into zapper electronics in some ways. Or try using bucket full of charcoal and a small heating filament to excite it with some motor assembly so that it rotates the bucket.

InDaClub (author)InDaClub2012-10-05

InDaClub (author)InDaClub2012-10-05


crazy-blender (author)2012-06-20

will it kill you

unclesam (author)crazy-blender2012-06-20

crazy-blender, you will find the answer to your question by reading the cautions included in the text of the introduction. Clearly the zapper plugs into a household electrical supply outlet. If you do not know that something plugged into an electrical outlet can kill you, you probably should not try this project without help or supervision from someone experienced with the hazards associated with electrical devices. Safety first always.

bigbadm (author)2012-05-28

nb how important is it for the entire bulb to be covered, at the mo the very top and bottom of the bulb is still visible. will it still generate enough heat?

Takelababy (author)2012-02-12

My so-called expensive mosquito trap that uses propane and lures is the only thing that makes my yard liveable in the summer. As the evenings get cooler the lure isn't necessary as the mosquitoes are drawn to the heat. The little basket is packed full of mosquitos every day for two months.

Philthy Phil (author)2008-07-03

This unit (and one exactly like it) has NOT WORKED at all. There are bugs all over the place here, and I have done the "mod", and the zap test results in NO ZAP at all. Obviously there are no dead bugs either. This is a ripoff.

unclesam (author)Philthy Phil2008-07-07

Dear PP, sorry for your disappointment, old bean, perhaps some diagnostics are in order. Did you perform zap test, and did the unit zap, before you modified it? Is your unit similar in construction to the one in my photos? There are some bug zappers on the market that are quite small and do not provide a robust zap, merely a tingle, and those might not be worthy. If an unmodified unit does not zap, then it will not zap following the modification. If your unit zapped before you modified it, but did not zap afterward, then there would seem to be a wiring problem. If you disconnected wire(s) from the zapping grid(s) in order to disassemble unit to install the plastic sheet, then reconnected them, maybe a wire is not connected well or there is a short. Also check to be sure that the grids are uniformly separated completely from each other so voltage cannot leak between them. If your unit is similar to the one in my photos, you can disconnect the high-voltage wires that supply the grids and CAREFULLY do a zap test across just the ends of the two wires that power the grids (might be easiest to remove top of unit once wires are disconnected from the grids in order to perform this test). The unit powers the grids with nothing but a very high-voltage transformer, so unless the transformer has been blown out or there is a wiring disconnect or shorted grid, you certainly should get a zap during this test. I presume you re-installed the bulbs and that they are lighting. If there are bugs all over the place, are they being attracted to the unit itself? If yes, then if you can get that zap going, you should achieve success. The modification is intended to attract mosquitos, but it also makes the unit less attractive to other bugs, by covering the lamps. Even if your unit is working properly, it may not zap many bugs unless there are mosquitos in the area. You might want to bring in some pals to look over my Instructable and look at your modification and reassembly. Sometimes fresh eyes can spot a problem that has been overlooked. Please report back using this forum, because your experiences will provide a valuable data point. U.S.

Philthy Phil (author)unclesam2008-07-07

Still does NOT work. Cannot remove the top to expose wiring and transformer unless I take a hacksaw to it. How many volts does the transformer put out? If I know this, I will compare it with a volt ohmeter. I suspect low voltage or no voltage at all.

unclesam (author)Philthy Phil2008-07-08

PP, The zapper I used was a Stinger brand, widely sold. All of their models I have seen had a removable top, so I presume yours must be another brand. Other folks' comments for this Instructable suggest other bug zappers use voltage multipliers built on a circuit board, and maybe that is what you have. Those build up a charge on a capacitor which is supposed to kill bugs, but they do not produce the robust continuous zap provided by the Stingers (think Jacob's Ladder). The Stinger transformer puts out many thousands of volts, and it is AC, and most VOM do not have provision to measure that high AC voltage. If your unit is the kind that charges a capacitor, it probably should produce thousands of volts also, but it will be DC, probably supplies only small current, and the circuit probably would take a little time to recharge the capacitor each time after it kills a bug. This is something like the way the older camera electronic flashes work, the whining noise it makes is the voltage multiplier charging a capacitor that is dumped into the bulb (now light-emitting diode) when the shutter is next snapped. My "zap test" probably is not a valid test for that kind of zapper. You might try to find the circuit diagram for your zapper by searching the Internet using the manufacturer and model, if you want to figure out if yours is still working. Even if you prove yours is working, my impression is that the zappers that charge a capacitor to kill bugs are not very effective, they certainly do not provide the satisfying nighttime pyrotechnics you get with the Stingers. It may also be that the non-stinger models will stun large bugs, but their feeble electronics may not zap something as small as a mosquito. The skeeter may not be large enough to complete the circuit between the two charged grids on those models. While you may still want to pursue checking out the zappers you have modified, I think you are more likely to have success killing skeeters if you get the Stinger type of zapper. If you do, try my zap test on it before you modify it (be sure to thoroughly wet the paper on the end of the stick), and also put the unmodified zapper outdoors at night to watch it work before making the modification. Will provide good before-and-after comparison, will help troubleshooting if modified unit does not work at first. U.S.

Philthy Phil (author)unclesam2008-07-08

My model IS a Stinger. I thought my older Stinger model was defective, so I purchased a new one...SAME RESULT. These Stinger bug zappers are WORTHLESS. The only way I can remove the top is either with a slotted screwdriver and prying it off (high risk of fracturing plastic top) or using a hacksaw. The bug zapper my father had was obviously NOT a Stinger...and it worked flawlessly. This is a total waste of money.

unclesam (author)Philthy Phil2008-07-09

PP, your unfortunate experience can be very beneficial to others, so I performed Internet search and believe I have found the answer. Besides, how could I not be impressed by the mature and articulate manner in which you expressed yourself in what any reasonable person would consider a frustrating situation. Bottom line is, without my knowing it, within the past several years, bug zappers have been made with Stinger name that do not deliver the mega-zap. For whatever reason, they starting selling small units that apparently kill bugs by other electronic means, such as charging a capacitor with DC voltage, which will not deliver the mega-zap, apparently the kind you bought. They still apparently offer the larger 1+-acre units that provide the mega-zap, the only kind I thought existed with Stinger name. If you want to pursue the project, maybe you could neatly bundle your unit and return it for refund. If you buy what you hope to be a mega-zapper, you could zap test it right out of the box, return it for refund if it does not deliver. The model I pictured in Instructable says Stinger Model UV801 on the box, Mfr Dejay Corp. I could not find this Mfr on Internet. I did find KAZ, apparent mfr using name Stinger under license to Honeywell. The change in mfr may have signalled the sale of the smaller units like the one you apparently have, which may attract and kill insects, but don't zap. Perform a google search "honeywell uv801s" and choose the search result site "" and click on the model uv801s "full description." Unlike all other zappers, this model description will mention the high-voltage transformer, and may be the only Stinger model to deliver the mega-zap. (The name "stinger" is often used generically to describe models made by other companies, and Flowtron is another brand of similar small and large zappers, but I have not researched them). If you click on the search result site "ekitchengadgets," you can read a very favorable review of the uv801 used to kill mosquitos, apparently very effective using the chemical lure also offered with that zapper. Without my mod, though, uv801 also attracts and kills zillions of other insects, almost 97% of which do not bite and many of which are beneficial, such as honey bees. I had similar success attracting and killing mosquitos with my mod without the chemical lure. You may just as well be able to kill mosquitos using the zapper you already bought by using the chemical lure, only a field test will tell. Lure is sold separately at the store displays for zappers, but I have no experience with it myself. If you decide to try it, report your results here for the benefit of others. The smaller zappers may be offered because the older mega-zappers make a lot of noise, cause static interference in radios and tv, annoy neighbors, and they atomize bug guts and blow off bug body parts, which drift through the air where they can land on food prep and dining areas. Some people consider these to be bad things. This is why the traditional zappers are not approved for use in commercial food establishments. Maybe the mini-killers are effective but do no create these problems. U.S.

Philthy Phil (author)unclesam2008-07-09

I hope you're right, because I ordered one of those UV801's today. Incidentally, the current bug zapper (40 watt) does not kill bugs...even with the mosquito attractant. Look at it this way...the more bugs you can kill, the more birds you'll be feeding. Hopefully this will prolong man's existence on this planet, because it ain't gonna be human beings who take'll be bugs (insects) and weeds (plants).

unclesam (author)Philthy Phil2008-07-10

PP, I did not want to say anything disparaging without direct evidence, but I felt that the only way one of those smaller zappers would kill a bug is if you dropped it on its head from a great height. This discussion brings back great memories of balmy summer evenings outdoors, quiet conversation punctuated by the crackle and sizzle of the zapper, God's innocent creatures giving of themselves to provide us with a colorful light show. Their vaporized precious bodily fluids and small body parts wafting on a gentle breeze over the picnic table. Good times! The large zappers are costly, I found mine in end-of-season sale. Money is not really an issue for me, however, since before I retired I made decent money as an intergallactic time-travelling shape-shifting crime fighter. I am watching you now as you read this, but your inadequate human senses are unable to detect me. U.S.

Philthy Phil (author)unclesam2008-07-10

Well, I hope my "uv801's senses" are able to detect these little vermin that make it impossible to mow a lawn or trim roses or have a backyard barbeque, and make bird food out of them. I can't wait to plug it in...and HOPEFULLY listen to the snap, crackle and sizzle...and hope it wakes up the whole neighborhood!

I finally received my UV801...albeit 3 weeks late! Certainly works much better than the lower-priced models! I tried your "trick" assembly with the black plastic and discovered it did NOT WORK at all (NO ZAPS with the wet paper). In the process of removing the plastic and reassembling the unit, both tubes fell to the floor and were destroyed. Now I have to order a new set at a cost of over $30...and wait for them to arrive before witnessing more snap, crackle and pop.

unclesam (author)Philthy Phil2008-08-18

PP, you certainly are persistent in light of your past bad luck with this project, sure hope it eventually works out for you. Did the unit pass the zap test once you reassembled it, after removing the plastic, without the bulbs (bulbs are not needed to make the zap function work)? I hope so, but if not, check to see that the wiring is correct and that there is no high-voltage leak. If it no longer zaps, you might want to remove the top to examine the transformer, look for smoke deposit. If there had been an electrical short somewhere along the way, your transformer might be blown out. If your unit still zaps, you might want to try again with inserting the black plastic inside the inner-most zapper screen. You should be able to do that without doing any disassembly, other than removing the bulbs. If you can find relatively stiff plastic sheet, it might unroll itself enough to fill in the cylinder inside the inner screen, with minimal fastening, then re-insert the bulbs. You would not want a thick plastic on the outside of the inner screen, because it is an insulator, but putting thick plastic inside the inner cylinder should have no effect on the zap. Probably best to make sure the plastic is not in contact with the warm bulbs. The fact that you dropped and broke the bulbs makes me worry that a similar lapse, of an electrical nature, could get you fried. Be sure to have someone elso on hand whenever you dig into the electrics, someone who can administer CPR and has 911 on the speed dial. Alternatively, have you considered exploring instead the other categories of Instructables, such as knitting or flower arranging? U.S.

Philthy Phil (author)unclesam2008-08-18

Yes, as soon as I reassembled the unit, the zap test was normal. I am NOT going to fool with it anymore...just leave as is and hope my replacement bulbs will arrive before the "bug season" has past. I have no idea how you can place plastic INSIDE the inside screen without touching the bulbs. I detect a bit of facetiousness on your part regarding "exploring instead the other categories of instructables, such as knitting or flower arranging". Perhaps you might want to explore these yourself.

solarmatrix (author)Philthy Phil2009-03-21

amidst the trail of dangerous and broken zappers I couldn't agree more about exploring other categories. those with electronics knowledge should try the "supercharged lemon" Instructable. it works well, is safe, and can be scaled up to do more work. This is an example among a thousand that are more interesting than watching bugs fry fellas. thats you too uncle sam.

jbodden1 (author)solarmatrix2011-06-08

Ah, but the emotional satisfaction of watching those bloodsuckers go POP!
Ditto for lying politicians and crooked lawyers... maybe if I put money inside the bait tray...

solarmatrix (author)unclesam2009-03-21

see comment to philthy phil

jbodden1 (author)unclesam2011-06-08

INTERGALACTIC crime fighter? There weren't enough politicians and lawyers HERE to keep you busy?

jbodden1 (author)Philthy Phil2011-06-08

I have my questions about insulating any part of the zapper coil/lattice too - again I will say that if one only wants heat to draw the bugs you can replace (or add to) the light with ceramic insulated resistors - and the heat can be controlled, as it is not with a light bulb.
High voltage is not fond of trying to get through an insulator.

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