How to Make a Bug Zapper

By Contributor; Updated April 24, 2017
Eliminate annoying bugs by zapping them to death.

A bug zapper is more formally known as electrical discharge insect control system and is a common method of killing insects outside. In order to be effective, these devices must perform two separate functions. Bug zappers must attract the insects in some way and they must provide enough electricity to kill them. Bug zappers are commercially available and the basic design has not changed since they were invented in 1934.

Use a light bulb that produces ultraviolet light. These light bulbs typically use mercury or neon vapor to produce ultraviolet light that attracts insects. Insects frequently see ultraviolet light better than visible light because many flowering plants use ultraviolet coloration. However, some insects such as mosquitoes are more attracted to heat and carbon dioxide.

Make the transformer to provide the electricity for the bug zapper. This device increases the voltage that comes out of your electrical outlet from 120 volts to at least 2,000 volts. This voltage increase is needed to kill the insects.

Construct the wire mesh grids around the light. Each of the two terminals of the electrical circuit is connected to a wire mesh. The meshes are separated by a couple of millimeters, so when the insect attempts fly through them to get to the light, its body completes the circuit.

Hold the parts together with an exterior casing. The housing is typically made of plastic and metal that's electrically grounded. The housing may be shaped like a lantern or any other desired form. Commercial bug zappers typically have an exterior grid to prevent anyone from touching the electrified grids inside.

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