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Do You Want To Know How Bug Zappers Work? by Selvage1: 3:28pm On Apr 08, 2020
Having quite some fun outside in the evening, aren’t you? While you are enjoying your time,
several harmful bugs are feasting on your food, or you are their food. A bug zapper helps you to
keep those nasty bugs from sucking on your blood or eating your food. “ZAP” that’s what we
hear when a bug zapper is in action. Ever wonder how bug zappers work? Let’s find out.

What is a bug zapper?

A bug zapper is a device that attracts insects with light and kills them. Usually, insects that are
allured by light fall victim to it. The bug zapper is formally known as an electric discharge insect
control system, electrocute trap, or electric insect killer. It usually attracts the insects with its
light source, where they come face to face with an electrical grid. Touching two high voltage
wires between them makes them electrocuted. The name bug zapper comes from the
onomatopoeic zap sound produced by it when an insect is killed.

History of bug zappers:
First bug zappers were introduced in 1911 by Popular Magazines that had a piece showing a fly
trap. The flytrap had all the elements of a modern bug zapper, which includes the electric light
and the grid. Two unnamed Denver men implemented it, but it was too expensive for practical
use. In 1932, the first bug zapper was patented by William M. Frost, according to the US Patent
and Trademark. Dr. William Brodbeck Herms, a professor at the University of California, paved
the way for modern bug zappers by introducing the electric insect killer in 1934. 

Parts of a bug zapper:

Bug zappers are quite simple, consisting of several parts. These parts include:

The exterior casing of the bug zapper is called the housing. It is usually made with plastic or any
such metal which is electrically grounded. The bug zapper is given the shape of a lantern,
cylinder or rectangular cube. It may also have a grid design to prevent children and animals from
being electrocuted by touching the inside.

Light bulb:
Usually, mercury, neon, or ultraviolet rays are used to make the light source. Since such types of
fluorescent lamps are most likely to attract insects. 

Wire grids:
Wire grids are usually two in number. It is the part of the bug zapper that is electrified to kill the
insects that surround the light bulb.

The device that electrifies the wire meshes is the transformer. The voltage of this device goes
from 120V to 2000V.

The wire meshes are supplied with an increased voltage of 2000V by the transformer. There are
tiny gaps between the wire meshes about the size of a typical insect, which allows them to enter
easily. These small gaps are about 2mm(0.079 in). The light being ultraviolet allures it inside. It
is because many insects see better in ultraviolet rays than in visible light and are more attracted
to it. Flowers that allure insects during pollination reveal patterns only in ultraviolet rays.

How do bug zappers work?
Despite going through various improvements, the bug zapper is still the same as it was since
1934. Its safety and bug luring capacity are still the same with just a few ups or downs.
 An ultraviolet ray emitting from the light bulb attracts the insect towards the electrified
wire-mesh grid. This is where the bug is electrocuted as soon as it touches the wires.
 A high voltage power supply consists of a transformerless voltage multiplier circuit. The
circuit consists of diodes and capacitors. The tiny gaps between the wire are just the right
size to fit in. The bug itself completes the circuit along with the transformer allowing the
voltage to cross between the space and vaporize the bug.

The highest voltage carried by it is 2000V. When the circuit is closed, a “zap” sound is
heard from the zapper.

Some facts about bug zappers:
A bug zapper kills more than 10,000 insects in a single evening. However, it does not
discriminate between the types of insects. It kills any insect that is lured by its ultraviolet rays
owing to its outstanding luring strategy.

Now, the controversy comes whether the bug zapper works or not. Obviously, it does. If you
spend a night beside a bug zapper, you will know. However, it kills beneficial insects than
harmful ones.

A study published from the researchers of the University of Delaware in 1996 shows that, after
collecting and identifying kills from six bug zappers from different sites, they found some
astonishing results. Out of 14000 kills from the bug zapper, only 31 were mosquitoes and biting
gnats. That is, it is killing beneficial insects like aquatic bugs more. This is causing a heavy toll
on the nearby ecosystems to a great extent. It is because the harmful insects like the mosquitoes
etc. are not attracted to UV light. They are more attracted to the carbon dioxide in your breath
and water vapor in your sweat. However, now a day, we can see bug zappers that emit carbon
dioxide and water vapor, which is a plus point.

A bug zapper may not be the most effective way to kill harmful insects, but it paved the way for
a better and modern approach to prevent them. Many alternative and better options are arising in
this sector. Some are more non-toxic to humans and other animals. But our ecosystem doesn’t
consist of humans and animals only, and there are many beneficial organisms as well. We have
to make sure our repellents for mosquitoes do not kill them off. It will lead to many catastrophes.
We must make sure to install the bug zappers with chemicals that only kill mosquitoes, not other
insects.We need to the exact information of how bug zappers work properly. During this time,
bug zappers have been installed with Octenol, carbon dioxide, etc. chemicals that allure
mosquitoes and biting gnats only. Bug zappers with light sources other than UV rays are also
being used. Not only this, other references to repel insects are becoming very popular. Yet the
research is still going on to improve the bug zapper as time goes by.

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