CO2 Mosquito Traps: Help or Hype?

co2 trap for mosquitoes

The little buggers are after you. You’re desperate to keep those female mosquitoes from biting you and your family. What can you do? CO2 mosquito traps are a helpful, effective tool in your mosquito control arsenal, but they won’t cure a mosquito problem by themselves.

Read on to find out how to use CO2 mosquito traps properly to help knock down mosquitoes in your yard.

What is a CO2 Mosquito Trap?

CO2 mosquito traps use plumes of carbon dioxide (CO2) to mimic humans’ breath and attract the skeeters, so CO2 traps zero in on mosquitoes and do not affect other flying insects. When attracted to the trap, these little vampires become captured by either a vacuum or an adhesive.

There are two types of CO2 traps: propane and non-propane. 

Propane Traps

woman checking a mosquito propane trap
Photo Credit: Photograph Curator / Flickr / Public Domain

Propane traps work by burning propane to produce CO2. They can also use attractants, such as Octenol, designed to target mosquitoes. 

For long-term mosquito reduction, you must refill the propane tank and the biogent (the attractant) every 2 or 3 weeks. You must also frequently empty the mesh filter that traps the biting insects. The upfront cost of these traps at retailers can be quite expensive for homeowners, and there is also the ongoing cost of propane refills and attractants.

Non-Propane Traps

BIOGENTS BG-Mosquitaire CO2 Outdoor Mosquito Trap
Buy Here: Amazon

The non-propane CO2 units are less expensive than the propane traps. They generally rely on electricity for power, which limits them to areas where they can be served by electric cords and a power source.

The non-propane traps use CO2, a mosquito attractant, and heat, as well as a light, to catch mosquitoes. You’ll need to replace the CO2 cylinder and the lightbulb occasionally and empty the mosquito catch basket often. 

Do CO2 Mosquito Traps Work?

Like UV light traps, CO2 mosquito traps do work, but they don’t provide “control.” Confused? Here’s the low-down: CO2 traps may, in fact, attract and kill mosquitoes, but the number they catch may not be enough to make you comfortable in your backyard. In other words, you may still have mosquito problems.

Therefore, you should probably wear chemical and/or natural types of mosquito repellent. And you should engage in other mosquito-control strategies, such as getting rid of standing water in your yard. 

You can also keep away skeeters by making simple and cost-effective DIY mosquito traps. The bucket ovitrap is a proven and recommended method of controlling mosquito populations in your yard.

What Factors Make CO2 Traps Work (or Not Work)?

  • Wind: How much wind you get can affect how many mosquitoes lurk about in your yard and how the puffs of CO2 reach those little vampires to lure them into the trap.
  • Mosquito species: If the insect biting you doesn’t fly very far from its resting or breeding site, you’re golden. But if it has a wide flight range (e.g., 1-3 miles), it may not find your trap. You can get help IDing mosquitoes by contacting your local Extension office; then buy the CO2 cylinders made for the identified species.
  • Placement of the trap: Keep traps out of the area where people congregate and instead insert them between people and places where skeeters, especially swarms of them, like to hang out, such as their breeding area or tall grasses.
  • Maintenance issues: You should read and follow your owner’s manual, as well as regularly replace the CO2 or other canisters and empty the insect traps.
  • Limited use of traps: To cut down on the maintenance cost of traps ($20 to $25 per month), you may be tempted to operate them only while you have an outdoor activity. To get the best results, however, manufacturers recommend that you run them continuously during warm weather.
  • Release rate of CO2: In one study, the number of mosquitoes captured increased with raising the CO2 flow.


What Attracts Mosquitoes to Humans?

CO2: This is what humans breathe out, and it can lure mosquitoes from 115 feet away, according to the American Mosquito Control Association. Once these little bugs home in on a source, they zigzag around until they can definitively locate it.
Body odor: Think of the smells (e.g., sweat, lactic acid) that your body produces naturally. Any one of the 350 compounds isolated from human skin can attract, or even repel, mosquitoes. Scientists are in the process of sorting out which does which.
Movement: Moving may help mosquitoes find you. It makes you stand out. Your body also releases more CO2 when you move (e.g., exercise).
Blood type: Mosquitoes seem to prefer people with blood type O.
Your beverage and your clothing: Drinking beer and other alcoholic beverages can attract mosquitoes, as can wearing perfume. And wearing short-sleeve or sleeveless shirts and shorts provides more skin where mosquitoes can land and then bite.
Places near your favorite spot in the yard: If your patio furniture is near standing water or shady areas (e.g., bushes, tall grasses), you might be placing yourself in mosquito population areas.
Temperature: Studies show that the average human body temperature (98.6 degrees F) attracts mosquitoes.

Why Do I Need to Control Mosquitoes?

Mosquitoes transmit several diseases that can affect you, your family, and your pets. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following infections and diseases can affect humans: 

• Cache Valley infection
• Chikungunya
• Dengue
• Dirofilariasis (dog heartworm)
• Jamestown Canyon infection
• Encephalitis (different types)
• Lymphatic filariasis
• Malaria
• Rift Valley fever
• Ross River virus disease
• West Nile infection
• Yellow fever
•Zika virus infection

Mosquitoes also cause serious conditions in pets, including heartworms and allergic reactions in cats, as well as heartworms, West Nile virus, and encephalitis in dogs.

What Other Things Can I Do to Help Control Mosquitoes?

One of the easiest ways to become a “mosquito killer” is to prevent them from multiplying in your environment. Here are a few key tips on how to prevent mosquito bites and keep your yard safe. 

The main action for preventing mosquitoes is to pour out standing water in all containers such as wheelbarrows, watering cans, bird baths, and old tires. Prevent mosquitoes from breeding in stagnant water by drilling holes in containers so that they drain the water. You can also turn them upside down, cover them, or throw them out.

Call the Professionals

If you don’t want to DIY mosquito control in your yard, seek out and find those who can and will help you with these pesky critters. Pest Gnome connects you to the best pest control experts near you.

Main Image Credit: Doug Beckers / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

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Pat Joiner

Pat Joiner has been working with words for 35+ years. In fact, playing with words is her greatest passion. Pat despises the bugs that pester her when she spends time outdoors gardening and enjoying her patio. She lives in her little condo and has two adorable cats named Mona and da Vinci.