Do Electric Bug Zappers Work During the Day?

by Derrick | Last Updated: November 3, 2021

You’ve planned a barbecue in your backyard, the burgers are on the grill, and guests will be arriving soon. You step outside with a cold drink in your hand, and all of a sudden, you are bombarded with annoying insects. Typically, you would turn on your bug zapper at night when you’re outside, but will it work during the day?

Electric bug zappers do work during the day, though they will not have the same effect as when you used in the evening. Bug zappers use UV light to attract the insects it kills, and unfortunately, the UV light won’t be seen when the sunlight is overpowering it in the daytime.  

This article will explain further why your electric bug zapper, which works so well at night with those sizzle sounds every few seconds, does not do the same job as effectively during the day. I’ll also share some alternative methods to killing bugs in the daytime and explain the differences between the bugs that come out during the day versus those that come out at night.  

The Mechanics Behind Bug Zappers

First, we need to understand the mechanics behind how bug zappers work, or the proper name, electrical discharge insect control system. In the center of the appliance, a UV light is released, attracting insects to come closer. On their way to the light, they are electrocuted by high voltage wires surrounding the UV light, thus zapping the bugs.

A protective covering should encase the electrical wires in case humans or animals come into contact with the appliance, but it should still be kept out of reach of kids and pets.  

The earliest bug zappers were seen in 1911 when a model for a “fly zapper” showed up in a copy of Popular Mechanics. The layout was relatively the same as modern bug zappers, although they did recommend placing a cut of meat in the middle to entice unlucky flies. Luckily today, we don’t have to have meat rotting away inside our zappers—not the most pleasant of smells during a friendly cookout. 

Most nocturnal insects love the light. More than likely, if you have a moth buzzing around your bedroom at night, they will go straight for that lamp you left on to read your book.

Or if you forgot to turn your porch light off, it seems like there’s a whole colony of bugs congregating around that light source. That’s why the bug zapper has that bright UV light; it wants all those insects to head straight for that illuminating brightness.

Most bug zappers are known for killing moths most of the time, but here are some other pesky bugs they have been known to take care of:

  • Flies
  • Beetles 
  • Grasshoppers
  • Stink Bugs

Bugs like cockroaches react negatively to light, and this is the reason why they scurry away when you turn on the lights, so, unfortunately, you won’t be finding any of them in your bug zapper trap. 

Using Your Bug Zapper in the Daytime

If you still want to try out using your bug zapper during the day to see if it gets any of those annoying bugs flying around, you can still turn it on, but it just won’t be that effective. Sunlight will be brighter than the light the bug zapper is giving off, so it won’t even be noticed by whatever may be buzzing around.

And worst of all, insects like mosquitoes, a backyard cookout’s worst enemies, aren’t attracted to the UV light, day or night. A bug zapper would work most effectively in the daytime if it is in a shaded area or underneath an awning, where the sunlight is blocked, and the UV light might have a chance of attracting some curious bugs. 

If you were going to make a comparison of “body counts” between daytime and nighttime bug zapping sessions, nighttime would always win. As stated earlier, the light the sun gives off is more powerful and brighter than the electric bug zapper light, so it just won’t work as well as it would at night.  

Indoor Bug Zappers

If your bug problems are indoors, then all of this could be a very different story. Although most bug zappers are designed to be used outside, there are some options for electrical bug zappers that can be used inside the house. Most indoor electric bug zappers don’t use up as much power as the outdoor ones, and some can even be placed on the countertop.

If you need to use a bug zapper in a room that does not receive a lot of direct sunlight, it shouldn’t be a problem what time of day you turn on the zapper.  

Daytime Bug-Killing Alternatives

If you’re bummed out that your electric bug zapper won’t work as well during the day, never fear. You do have a few other options of helping to keep your insect problem under control. 

  • Bug repellent spray: Bug spray is the most effective at keeping the biting bugs at bay. You may have to keep applying if you’re outside for long periods of time and if you sweat or go in the water. When using a spray, be sure to cover all exposed skin. Bug repellent wipes are also available if you would prefer to use those instead of the spray. 
  • Citronella candles: These candles work as a natural remedy to help keep the mosquitoes and flies away. Citronella candles come in all shapes and sizes, from candles that sit on the table to stand-up torches you push in the ground. It might help to make a border around where you plan to sit outdoors to protect you and your guests. 
  • Handheld Bug Zapper Rackets:  You can make getting rid of annoying insects fun by swatting around your bug zapper racket! This device could be helpful to keep nearby when you’re sitting on your patio, and it also works well day or night since you’re doing the zapping essentially. Instead of bugs going to the zapper, the zapper comes to them.  

Daytime Bugs vs. Nighttime Bugs

Depending on what type of bug you’re trying to get rid of, you may not even require any repellant or removal method. You may just need to adjust when you’re outside. 

Moths, beetles, and lightning bugs, which are very prevalent in the evening, are not typically noticeable during the day. If you wish to avoid these insects, plan to spend time outside before sunset.

On the other hand, if you’re trying to combat spiders, wasps, and bees, they can be avoided at night when they aren’t usually active.


Overall, electric bug zappers will work when turned on. Although, the question of how well they work depends on the time of day, unfortunately. If you want to get rid of bugs during the day, you might have to plan out other options. However, electric bug zappers will continue to be a valuable tool for evening outdoor entertaining.

If you are a fan of sitting on the porch and watching the stars and you don’t mind hearing a sizzle once in a while, then make sure to turn on your bug zapper to have an enjoyable outdoor experience.