Bug zappers vs. bug vacuums: Which are better?


It’s difficult to enjoy the outdoors when you’re pestered by flies and mosquitoes buzzing around your head. It’s equally hard to relax inside your home if you see a spider crawl underneath your couch. Bug zappers and vacuums help solve those problems.

Both promise the same end result — clearing your immediate vicinity of pests — but they do so in very different manners. Those who prefer to kill bugs can appreciate the effectiveness of a bug zapper, and they’re great for targeting flying bugs. Those looking to catch bugs in their home and release them outside, or who need to suck up crawling insects, should look to bug vacuums.

Bug zappers

Bug zappers utilize electricity to kill insects. They’re intended to rid an area of flying pests. They can also kill crawling bugs if one comes into contact with the electric grid. On most models, a secondary non-powered grid covers the main electric grid to prevent humans from getting zapped.

Bug zapper types

Bug zappers come in two main types: stationary and racket.

Stationary: These hang on a hook or rest on a flat surface. They feature a UV light that attracts insects, and many are also equipped with a chemical attractant. While most people place stationary bug zappers outdoors, some models are usable indoors. They’re most effective when used at night.

Racket: These look like small tennis rackets, but instead of strings, they have an electric grid. Unlike stationary models, you have to swing rackets through the air for them to be effective. This means they’re not a good choice for those who prefer a passive approach. Rackets are usable indoors and out, during daytime or nighttime.

Best stationary bug zapper

Flowtron Electronic Insect Killer

Flowtron Electronic Insect Killer

This Flowtron model offers one acre of coverage and uses a bright ultraviolet bulb to draw in insects. There’s a place to add an attractant cartridge to further improve its effectiveness. It has a waterproof build that allows it to stand up to the elements.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Bug vacuums

Unlike bug zappers, bug vacuums only trap bugs, not kill them. They rely on long nozzles and suction to pull insects into their catch chamber. Then, you can take them outside to release them. They’re lightweight so most can manage them, and they’re usually affordable.

What to know before buying a bug vacuum

Consider the size of the insects you plan on catching. If you intend to catch small bugs, you can choose a model with a small nozzle. Those who need to catch large insects should choose a model with a large nozzle.

Bug vacuums come in toy and adult models. Toy models often feature a magnifying glass so kids can study their catch before releasing them. Adult models have more powerful suction.

Best toy bug vacuum

Nature Bound Bug Vacuum

Nature Bound Bug Vacuum

A fun and educational toy, this bug catcher should keep your child entertained for hours. It features a built-in night vision light, a removable capture chamber, a magnifier and a belt clip. Its bright colors make it easy to spot if left in the yard.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best adult bug vacuum

BugZooka WB100 Bug Catcher Vacuum

BugZooka WB100 Bug Catcher Vacuum

This has a manual pump on the end rather than relying on batteries. It’s powerful enough to suck up strong insects that lesser models can’t.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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