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Are butterflies attracted to bug zappers?

While bug zappers are effective for controlling flying pests, they are not butterfly-friendly.

September 3, 2023

3 min read time

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Ah, the great outdoors!

You’ve got your patio set up, the grill’s smokin’, and your bug zapper is hard at work.

But hold on a second—did that thing just zap a butterfly?

The question begs itself: Are butterflies attracted to bug zappers?

Let’s dive right in to find out.


You’ve probably seen or heard them—those electrifying bug zappers that promise to clear your yard of pesky insects. While many people swear by their effectiveness, you might wonder if they’re indiscriminately killing off more than just the pests.

Specifically, could they be harming beautiful butterflies?

What Attracts Butterflies: A Quick Overview

Before we delve into the mechanics of bug zappers, let’s first understand what usually attracts butterflies.

  • Flowers: Butterflies are often drawn to brightly colored blooms.
  • Scent: Some butterflies prefer fragrant plants.
  • Water: Shallow water features can also attract butterflies.

By knowing what usually attracts them, we can better assess if a bug zapper would be a draw.

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The Science of Bug Zappers

Bug zappers work by emitting UV light, which most flying insects find irresistible. When they get too close—zap! They’re fried.

Now, let’s connect the dots to see if this UV light also attracts butterflies.

Do Butterflies Get Zapped?

The short answer is yes—but not as frequently as other insects like flies and mosquitoes.

Butterflies are daytime insects, while most bug zappers are designed to catch nighttime insects like mosquitoes.

So, the overlap is minimal, but it does happen.

Note: Special care should be taken in butterfly conservation areas.

Impact on Butterfly Population

Though the chances of zapping a butterfly are relatively low, the impact on the population could be significant if many people in the same area use bug zappers.

Butterflies play a vital role in pollination, so their loss is not trivial.

Alternative Solutions to Protect Butterflies

If you love butterflies and want to protect them while also enjoying a bug-free yard, consider the following alternatives:

  • Herb-based repellents: Use natural bug repellents around your sitting area.
  • Fan: A simple oscillating fan can keep flying bugs away without harming butterflies.
  • Manual removal: Good old fly swatters still do the trick for bigger pests.

Case Study: Real-World Observations

We observed a neighborhood where most households used bug zappers and compared it to another where non-electrical methods were more common.

Surprisingly, the former had a notably smaller butterfly population.

FAQs: Common Questions About Butterflies and Bug Zappers

Q: Can bug zappers be set to avoid butterflies?
A: No, most bug zappers can’t distinguish between different kinds of insects.

Q: Are daytime zappers less harmful to butterflies?
A: Since butterflies are active during the day, daytime zappers could actually be more harmful.


While bug zappers are effective for controlling flying pests, they are not butterfly-friendly. If you aim to protect these beautiful creatures, it’s worth exploring alternative methods of pest control.

You may not have to choose between a bug-free evening and a butterfly-friendly environment. With a little creativity and awareness, you can enjoy the best of both worlds.

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