Intro: 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.
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Step 1: 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
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
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.