When the warm weather comes, the bees and bug zappers also do. Bees are important to the environment, though, so we have to ask: are bees attracted to bug zappers? Many bugs are attracted to the electric glow of bug zappers, but can the same be said for bees?
Bees may be attracted to bug zappers because they’re phototaxic, meaning they’re attracted to light. But because bees aren’t nocturnal, you don’t need to worry about your bug zapper harming them. Bug zappers, unfortunately, may kill nocturnal bugs you may not want to hurt, such as moths.
If you’re curious about whether or not bug zappers attract bees and why they aren’t effective against honey bees, keep reading. I’ll also discuss how bug zappers work, why they aren’t very effective in general, and alternate solutions to zappers.
Do Bug Zappers Attract Bees?
Bees are attracted to light which means that they have a positive phototactic response to it. Phototactic responses are a type of taxis (cellular movement) that occurs when organisms respond to light. This particular kind of taxis is called phototaxis. That said, do bug zappers attract bees?
Bug zappers could attract bees. Bees are phototaxic, but they sleep during the night and aren’t inclined to be outside their hives once the sun is down. While zappers can potentially harm bees, their habits make this less likely to happen.
There are two phototactic responses:
- Negative phototaxis is when organisms – in this instance, insects – move from light.
- Positive phototaxis is when animals and insects move toward the light.
Bees fall under positive phototaxis.
Bug Zappers Technically Won’t Harm Bees
A bug zapper could technically harm a bee if it flew into it. Bees are phototaxic, however, which also makes them diurnal – meaning they’re active during the day. There have been studies that prove bees sleep at night, so you’re not liable to see a bunch of bees buzzing around at sundown.
Not all bees clock out early, though. Young bees stay active at night longer than forager bees do, but they don’t have the same attraction to light as older hive members. Typically, younger bees aren’t seen outside hives until they can forage. As such, they aren’t going to be attracted to zappers much, if at all.
How Do Bug Zappers Work?
So how do zappers even work? We know they obliterate bugs, but how? First off, there are four major parts to bug zappers: the housing, light bulbs, wire grids, and the transformer.
Bug zappers use lightbulbs (ultraviolet or mercury) to attract insects. The bulb is surrounded by mesh wires electrified by a transformer surrounded by a protective exterior housing. Bugs will die when they get electrocuted by the bulb’s wire.
The bug zapper’s housing protects you from the potentially hazardous, electrified mesh wires and the transformer. Typically, bug zapper housing is lantern-shaped and made of plastic and metal. Bug zappers use ultraviolet or mercury light bulbs to draw in the insects. Insects are attracted to the light because UV allows them to see nectar guides to enable bugs to find nectar.
The wire mesh and transformer are the parts of the bug zapper that handle the dirty work. Wire mesh screens surround the lightbulb, and they’re powered by a transformer that provides the fatal electricity.
There’s a small hole between the wire screens that allow bugs inside to attempt to reach the light bulb. Once the insects cross the gap, they’re electrified by the 2,000 volts that the transformer sends coursing through the mesh screen.
Why Bug Zappers Aren’t Effective
I’ve just discussed how bug zappers work, but honestly, they’re pretty terrible at what they’re supposed to do. Yes, they kill bugs, but they’re bad at it. Zappers get rid of bugs attracted to UV light, prone to be the wrong kind of insect. The primary target for zappers is mosquitos. The problem is mosquitos aren’t attracted to ultraviolet light!
Mosquitoes find their food by chasing carbon dioxide trails, so the bugs that bug zappers do kill are often those that pollinate, such as moths. Moths pollinate by night and day, and unfortunately, they’re attracted to the light from bug zappers, resulting in them dying.
The inadvertent killing of moths is problematic because not only does it decimate a population of pollinators, but it results in gaps in natural food chains, too. The lack of moths (and certain beetles) is responsible for decreasing bird sightings in neighborhoods.
Bug zappers can also spread bacteria. When zappers kill insects, the bugs essentially explode due to the strength of the electrocution. Internal fluids and internal organs riddled with bacteria and viruses get flung into the surrounding air, onto food, and inhaled into people’s lungs.
If you decide to use a bug zapper during outdoor activities, it’s best to use them in areas away from people. It’s not advisable to use zappers indoors either; the hazardous substance can get stuck to your walls and furniture surfaces.
Bug Zapper Alternatives
It’s unnecessary to kill bugs that come too close to you; in fact, the farther the bugs stay from you, the better. Each zapper alternative listed here isn’t meant to kill insects but rather keep them away from you. You have your pick of spatial repellents, fans, or topical repellents to keep the bugs at bay.
Spatial repellents are released into the air from receptacles that are attached to you or placed near people. A popular spatial repellent is citronella candles. Typically, the candles are placed on a nearby table, and the chemicals they emit can keep mosquitoes from coming near.
Mosquito coils are another kind of spatial repellent. They’re a type of incense specifically made to keep away mosquitoes. Keep in mind that spatial repellents have a decreased effectiveness when you’re walking fast or in windy weather.
Mosquitoes are crap flyers, so fans serve as effective deterrents. If you’ve got a decently strong, large enough fan, you’ve got a way to keep mosquitoes at bay. It’s advisable to keep the fan around your legs. Some mosquitoes like to make nuisances of themselves and bite at your legs.
Tabletop fans are still an option, however. The Treva Bug Repellent Fan from Amazon.com blades’ reflective pattern will keep insects away, and they’re soft to avoid any mishaps.
We figure topical repellent was the most obvious choice, and for a good reason. All you have to do is spray or wipe it on, and that’s it. We do recommend a spray that has picaridin, though. Unlike DEET, picaridin doesn’t irritate the skin, leave a greasy residue, and is odorless.
Bleach and Other Home Remedies
Many people look to use what they have on hand to kill pests and bees are no different. One common household item people attempt to use often with bees is bleach. Bleach will kill bees if submerged, but there are far better insecticides on the market specifically designed for bees, wasps and hornets.
While a bug zapper could attract bees, it likely won’t happen. Sure, bees are attracted to light, but they’re going to be sleeping when you use your bug zapper, anyhow. Essentially, zappers electrocute insects by transferring voltage from the transformer to the mesh wiring surrounding the light bulb.
Bug zappers kill bugs indiscriminately, and the bugs you don’t want to zap often end up dead. Mosquitoes aren’t all that attracted to bug zappers but insects that pollinate, like moths, are, and this is problematic for surrounding plant and bird populations. Try using topical and spatial repellents or fans instead.
- Wirecutter: Do Bug Zappers Work? Yeah – About As Well As Any Other Indiscriminate Wildlife Slaughter
- Terminix: How Spatial Repellents Help Keep Insects Away
- Busy Beekeeping: Are Bees Attracted to Light?
- How Stuff Works: How Bug Zappers Work
- Biology Online: Phototaxis
- Carnegie Science: Phototaxis
- ThoughtCo: Do Bug Zappers Kill Mosquitoes?
- US Forest Service: Moth Pollination
- How Stuff Works: Can Bug Zappers Help to Transmit Diseases?
- Do It Yourself: Can Bug Zappers Transmit Diseases?
- Mr.Mister Mosquito Control: Picaridin Vs. DEET: What You Need to Know
- Online Science Notes: Taxis and Its Types on the Basis of Stimulus