Consumer interest has been generated by the marketing of devices designed to attract, then either trap or kill, mosquitoes. Many products even claim to significantly decrease, or virtually eliminate local populations by decreasing the number of egg-laying females. All of these traps utilize some form of attractant that lures the host-seeking female mosquitoes to a capture or killing device. In some cases, mosquitoes are captured via an impellor fan that suctions them into a net, where they desiccate. Other systems use a sticky surface to which the mosquitoes adhere when they land, or electric grids to electrocute mosquitoes drawn into contact. Each requires some level of maintenance, i.e. propane tanks need replacement, capture nets need emptying, adhesive boards require replacement and grids require cleaning to ensure their continued effectiveness.
The process of a mosquito questing for a blood meal involves a complex, interconnected cascade of behaviors, each probably having its own cues, be they sight, smell, or body temperature. The complexity of these behaviors may account for the bewildering variations in trapping efficiency noted for certain species of mosquitoes at different times, seasons and places. With 174 species of mosquitoes currently recognized in the United States, this is no small issue and will require many years before research can provide a clarification. There is some anecdotal evidence that these baited traps, indeed, capture more females of some species than others, depending, to some extent, on the concentration of carbon dioxide emitted and the mosquito species. There may also be seasonal and circadian variables that affect mosquito responses to certain attractants. Nonetheless, these devices will trap and kill measurable numbers of mosquitoes. Whether this will produce a noticeable reduction in the mosquito population in each case will depend upon a number of factors, e.g. individual tolerance level, absolute mosquito population size, proximity, size and type of breeding habitat producing re-infestation, wind velocity and direction, and species of mosquito present, and others. Thus, the homeowner must still use repellents and practice source reduction methods as adjuncts to realize any measure of relief. Please be cautioned against putting too much faith in traps as your sole means of control. These traps represent an evolving technology that is a most welcome addition to our mosquito control armamentarium. Their potential is great, but shouldn't be overestimated. It's highly unlikely that these devices, whatever their improvements, will ever fully supplant organized community-wide mosquito control programs, for there is no single silver bullet that will prove to be the ultimate answer to mosquito problems.