Homemade DIY Mosquito and No-See-Ums Trap With Yeast
Make Your Own Mosquito and No-See-Um Trap
In many places, biting insects are a year-round nuisance. Mosquitoes flock in the warmer months while biting midges ruin beach trips and cool-weather, outdoor experiences. Harsh chemicals, citronella candles, and self-proclaimed mosquito repellants that claim they emit annoying noises are pricy, hazardous, or downright ineffective. Luckily, you can easily make an effective mosquito and gnat trap that won't poison you, your kids, or your pets and costs next to nothing. Read on to learn more.
Did You Know?
There's actually no evidence that certain sounds or frequencies attract or repel mosquitoes. If you have a noise-emitting mosquito device that isn't working, this is why. Do you still have the receipt?
What Attracts Mosquitoes and No-See-Ums?
There are many different mosquito and midge (colloquially called 'no-see-ums' or sand fleas) species. Each one is attracted to slightly different things -- temperature, movement, color, lactic acid, and a type of alcohol known as octenol all play a role.
- Even though mosquitoes use a combination of the above-listed factors to home in on their prey, exhaled carbon dioxide is a primary victim-location method for mosquitoes.
- Additionally, mosquitoes are attracted to moisture. This attraction is for two reasons: exhaled water vapor indicates something bite-able and still water is a potential spot to lay eggs.
- There are literally hundreds of midge species worldwide. Just like mosquitoes, only the females bite. These bites frequently welt up worse than mosquito bites (at least, they do on me!) and midges are much more difficult to chemically repel than mosquitoes.
- They are also a little more difficult to trap. Unlike mosquitoes, which are repelled by salt water, biting midges love salt water. In fact, they generally love damp areas of all varieties. Just like all biting insects, they use CO2 to find their victims.
- Thankfully, even a light breeze is enough to send these tiny insects into hiding. While it is tiresome to fan yourself constantly, you can chase the gnats away from your next beach outing with a hand or battery operated fan.
Materials and Equipment for a Mosquito Trap
- Empty 2 liter bottle
- Permanent marker
- Utility knife or sharp scissors
- Small cooking pot
- 1 cup of white sugar
- Thermometer, preferably an instant read or candy thermometer
- Dry active yeast
- Black plastic shopping or doggie bag
Steps for DIY Mosquito Trap
DIY Mosquito Trap
Mosquitoes are attracted to dark, moist places and carbon dioxide -- you simply need to use this to your advantage in order to trap them. Midges, on the other hand, prefer salt water, but the CO2 may still catch some of the pests, too.
Making the mosquito trap is easy. You simply modify a plastic 2 liter bottle, fill it with a sugar, water, and yeast syrup, and cover it with black plastic to create the dark, wet, CO2 rich environment mosquitoes crave.
- Procure an empty 2 liter bottle. While many name brands have started using a new style of bottle that does not work as well for this project, most store brands still have a 'traditional' plastic 2 liter. The pictured seltzer water (above) was only 50 cents, on sale.
- Rinse the bottle out, remove the label, and throw away the cap.
- Cut the bottle to separate the top 1/3 from the bottom 2/3. You'll want to cut slightly below where the bottle begins to taper toward the top. You can either grab a pair of scissors and jump right in, or you can measure, draw a line, and make an even cut. (Note: I highly recommend the latter. To do this, hold a ruler against the bottle and find where you want to make the cut. I wanted my cut about 5" up the bottle. Use a permanent marker to make a line at this height. Proceed around the bottle, making marks every few inches at this same height. Then, place the bottle on its side. Use a ruler to slightly flatten the bottle and draw a line connecting your marks. Continue by turning the bottle, flattening slightly, and extending the line until you've made a neat circle all the way around. Now you can cut along the line with ease!)
- Boil 1 cup of water. Make sure to put the lid on to make the water boil more quickly.
- Remove the water from heat and stir in 1 cup of white sugar. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Add 1 c of 'cold' tap water and stir.
- Wait for the water temperature to drop below 90 degrees Fahrenheit. If you add the yeast before the water has cooled sufficiently, the yeast will die. You may add a couple of ice cubes to hasten the process, but do not place the pan in your fridge or freezer. While the water needs to be less than 90, if it is too cold, the yeast cannot thrive. Note: If you don't have a thermometer, put your wrist, or whole hand, in the water (yes, it will get sticky). If it feels about the same as your body temperature, it is still too hot. If it feels slightly cool, you're in business. It is better to err on the side of caution and have too-cool water instead of too-hot water because cool water won't kill yeast.
- Once the water reaches the appropriate temperature, add 1 teaspoon of dry active yeast and stir.
- Pour this mixture in the bottom portion of the bottle. (I once caught a fruit fly before I even got the top on the mixture!)
- Tape black plastic around the bottle. Two doggie bags suffice, but part of a trash bag or shopping bag works, as well. While instructions online may suggest using black construction paper, this isn't recommended as construction paper fades very quickly and rips easily.
- Place the top portion of the bottle, cap end down, in the bottom portion of the bottle. If your liquid actually touches the bottle's lip, pour some of it out. There must be enough space for the insects to enter the bottle and become trapped.
- Use tape to seal the two portions of the bottle.
- Place your trap and let it get to work! The pictured trap (above) was constructed in the afternoon and, in that same evening, the yeast was bubbling nicely and producing plenty of tasty carbon dioxide.
Your Mosquito Trap Experiences
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How to Use a Mosquito Trap
Because it produces carbon dioxide, this trap attracts mosquitoes. It also means you may experience an increased density of mosquitoes around the trap, so don't place it right next to you. Instead, try to position the trap several yards away from your location. This not only reduces the mosquitoes in your immediate vicinity (because they're flocking to the trap) but it also reduces the overall mosquito population by killing the egg-laying, biting females.
Within two weeks, you'll need to replace the yeast/sugar syrup. Check on your trap every day or two. If it is no longer bubbling and fermenting, the yeast is finished. It either got too hot and killed the yeast, too cold and the yeast went dormant, or the yeast simply ate all of the sugar and ran out of food.
Whenever you notice a lack of yeast activity, simply re-make the syrup and either use a knife to cut the packing tape holding the two pieces together, and replace the solution inside the bottle, or make an all-new trap. I recommend just chucking the whole thing out and making a new trap. When I went to empty mine, it was so nasty, full of bugs, and smelly -- I couldn't even imagine cleaning it out and reusing it.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions, and happy hunting!
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