Here at the Strategist, we like to think of ourselves as crazy (in the good way) about the stuff we buy, but as much as we’d like to, we can’t try everything. Which is why we have People’s Choice, in which we find the best-reviewed (that’s four-to-five-star reviews and lots of ’em) products and single out the most worthwhile.
While we’ve swathed ourselves in lotions, sprays, and a host of wearable items designed to ward off ticks, mosquitoes, and the rest of their insect ilk, we’re exploring an electrifyingly effective form of pest repellent. Here, we venture into the terrain of bug zappers — lanterns, light bulbs, and a ton of tennis-racket-shaped flyswatters — currently available on Amazon. (Note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity.)
Best indoor bug zapper
“It’s been three days since we were utterly overrun when our 2-year-old daughter unwittingly left one of our facility’s outer hatches unsecured. Since then, it has been a melee with an electric flyswatter, desperately trying to drive our intractable enemy from within our walls. Desperate, we requested immediate support. Reinforcements. Anything. Instead, what we got was this strange steel cage with a blue glowing light. We deployed the Bug Zapper & Indoor Insect Killer in an area where the enemy was known to perform routine flight operations. To our joy and vengeful satisfaction, the first pop reporting the death of one of our adversaries sounded within five minutes. In the first hour, the pop was repeated ten times. The enemy is still out there. Now, we finally have a chance.”
Best outdoor bug zapper
“Year three of having this thing. I live next to a swamp, so needless to say, I have no hope of winning the war on mosquitoes, but this, combined with my bat houses, sure takes a dent out of the population. I unplug and hose it down to remove all the nasties, plug it in at dusk, and by the next day it’s so full, it blocks out the light.”
Best commercial-grade bug zapper
“It’s big. It’s bad. It’s the biggest, baddest bug-zapping machine you’re ever likely to lay hands on, and about as much fun as you can have without committing a felony these days. Seriously, if the machine-gun-like sound caused by the nonstop electrocution of massive quantities of blood-sucking pests doesn’t cause the joys of boyhood mischief to rise in your heart like a tidal wave of glee, you’re already dead. Oh ya, it’s also loud. Really loud. Like ‘machine-gun staccato, bug bursting, happy feeling’ loud. The first time you see an entire cloud of gnats fly into this thing and go off like microwave popcorn, you’ll wonder why you didn’t buy it sooner.”
Best indoor-outdoor bug zapper
“I live in Hawaii, so as you could imagine, the insects are a lot! I normally would like to keep my door open so that I can feel the trade winds. But insects just keep coming into my room. So I got this zapper, and it works pretty nicely! I can finally say that I don’t have to worry about insects anymore. Plus, it is pretty easy to set up. And it looks pretty nice outside my door!”
Best bug-zapping LED light bulb
“My front yard has lots of plants and fruits. Now that the temperature has been going up, we’ve noticed more and more mosquitoes, so I decided to get a bug zapper. We also have a porch light, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and get this. I must say, I’m quite happy with my purchase. The light part itself is very bright, doesn’t get hot, and is energy efficient. The bug-zapper part is pretty neat, too. You might not be able to see it for a few minutes, but over the course of a night or a few hours, you will see a couple of insects dead around it.”
Best bug-zapping racket
“Where are the flies when you need them? Seems like they knew what was coming … I finally was able to try my new fly-annihilation technique on a couple of unsuspecting buzzers. I was sadistically pleased with that distinctive ZAP of fly electrocution and the tiny wisp of smoke. Thank you for this new self-defense against those pesky flies!”
Best USB-powered bug-zapping racket
“This is not my first fly zapper, but it is the last. The racket is very well constructed. If you swipe through the air and make contact with a flying insect … It is dead. Other products are not always this powerful, so the fly is just stunned. When the housefly recovers, it goes back to laying about 150 eggs a day that fully mature in about four days in warm weather. Just think about that. On day four, you have 22,650 adult flies laying 150 eggs per day. It is exponentially terrifying. I do not like flies, so this is unacceptable. I do not want to have to wait for a fly to land to eliminate it. I just as soon ZAP it the second I find it in my house.”
Best 3,000-volt bug-zapping racket
“The best freaking zapper I have EVER had!! I am overwhelmingly happy. I feel like a professional tennis player. :) JK. I have had at least ten of these types of zappers. I have a constant need. I have two Amazon parrots for whom I cut fresh fruit and veggies everyday. I have a constant fruit fly problem — all year round (I live in California). I was worried about the zapper getting to the fruit flies because this one only has lines across and not crisscross like I would have thought would work better. This is doing the trick! It feels substantial and not flimsy. I am elated.”
Cheapest bug-zapping racket
“I carry this thing on hikes during the summer months when the woods are full of deer flies, mosquitoes and black flies. It zaps everything into oblivion, so I can enjoy the outdoors without a cloud of relentless insects swarming around my head. I just wish my dog wasn’t startled by the POP sound each time a bug gets vaporized! This is my second zapper; the first one worked for two years and was ‘adopted’ by a friend who moved away!”
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