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Do Bug Zappers Attract Wasps?

Wasps have positive phototaxis and will be attracted to the UV light in bug zappers. Unfortunately, they get electrocuted once they are drawn to the UV lights.

January 12, 2022

13 min read time

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Wasp stings are not experiences that you forget in a hurry. Many of these stings have even resulted in death which explains why many people are not particularly overjoyed to have them around. You are probably looking for ways for killing insects like wasps around you, even as you read this.

But not all wasps are “dragons” in insect form. Instead, just as there are nasty, hyper-aggressive wasps, “beneficial” wasp species help eliminate insect pests.

Wasps have a very complex society with different nest members. The queen has the sole responsibility of reproducing while the workers raise the queen’s offspring, collect food and defend the nest. The drones are fertile males that are only present around autumn, after which they are forced to leave by the queen.

Before killing insects like wasps, you need to understand the insect breeding cycle of wasps.

The insect breeding cycle for wasps is within 20-28 days from egg to adult, with the time spent in each stage being decided by the environment.

First, the wasps undergo five molts for 15 days. After this period, the wasp larva enters the pupation period, which takes 8-18 days, after which an adult wasp emerges.

Types of Wasps

It is often challenging to tell the difference between bees and wasps because they have similar builds. But you could quickly tell the difference between them if you have some tips.

For one, bees are not as aggressive as wasps, and they can only sting once before they die.

On the other hand, wasps are pretty fierce if you get too close to their nests. They sting multiple times, and they often release pheromones to invite other wasps to join the stinging party.

So to protect yourself and the environment from wasps, you’d need to be able to know the kind of wasp and how to handle them.

So let’s look at some of the more common wasp varieties out there.

Different wasp species have unique behavior so, you have to identify what kind of wasps you have before getting rid of them.

Here are some of the more popular wasp varieties:

Yellow Jackets

These are the more popular variety as they can be found worldwide. They are bee-sized wasps with distinctive black and yellow markings, hence “yellow jackets.” Yellow jacket nests house their colonies and can be found on the ground or inside structures.

Paper Wasps

These wasps have brown or black bodies with red or yellow markings. They can be found all over North America, where they often build small, single-layer nests near the shelter of buildings.


Hornets are often black, with distinct light yellow or white stripes. They are highly social insects that build their nests on high trees or sturdy, woody plants and usually sting when threatened or provoked.

Mud Daubers

Mud daubers are distinct from other wasps. They have black and bright yellow markings on their thorax and legs. They also have long, thin bodies. They also do not live in colonies or build nests with other wasps.

They get their name from their preference for mud nests that cater to them and their offspring. They are docile, do not swarm like other wasps, and kill other insects for food.

Why Do I Have Wasps in My Yard?

These are some of the reasons why you have wasps around your yard:


Queen wasps often take shelter in safe, warm, protected places where they sit out the winter and avoid predators. So you’d find them around insulated walls, crevices, and cracks.


You might find wasps in your yard because they are looking for food sources after hibernating during the wintertime. The food sources could be leftover meal scraps to larvae and other insects.


Wasps might be in your yard in search of sugar which they need to get them through the winter. Some of the things they may be in search of include fallen fruit trees, white sugar soda cans, and fruit juice


Wasps pollinate flowering plants primarily because of the sweet-tasting nectar and the fragrance from the flowers.

What Is a Bug Zapper

Bug zappers are often described as electrical discharge insect control systems, electric insect killers, or insect electrocution traps. They are simple devices that are effective against flying insects: attract insects and electrocute them.

The bug zapper comes with an ultraviolet light source that draws insects to an inbuilt electrical grid. The insects are then electrocuted when they touch two wires with a high voltage. When this happens, you hear a zapping sound from which the device gets its name.

Bug zappers have been around for as far back as 1911. This fly trap features both an electrified grid and an electric light.

However, it was deemed too costly for mass production. In 1932,  William M. Frost patented the first bug zapper, and by 1934 William Brodbeck Herms introduced the prototype electronic insect killer that inspired later models.

Bug zappers often have the following design:

An exterior casing

This casing holds the different components of the bug zapper together. It was designed from electrically grounded metal or plastic, and you will mostly find them in rectangular or lantern shapes.

Light Bulb

This is the light bulb (it could be any of ultraviolet, neon, or mercury).

Wire grids

Some bug zappers come with a grid design that keeps people or animals from touching the device’s electrified

grids. The grid covers the light bulb and has high voltage running through it.


This transformer supply electricity to the device by stepping up the voltage in the wire mesh from 120V to around 2000V.

Mosquito trap

­So how do Bug Zappers Work?

The generated voltage is supplied to the device through the wire mesh (grids partitioned by tiny gaps). The ultraviolet light (also known as bug light) inside the wire-mesh network is quite attractive to insects, and as the insect flies to UV light, it lands in the region of space between the wire-mesh and gets stuck there.

Electric current then flows through the insect and vaporizes it instantly when this happens. That’s when you hear the zapping sound that bug zappers get their name from. So your bug zapper could kill several thousands of biting flies and other insects in a few hours if you position it right.

What Do Bug Zappers Attract?

Bug zappers attract a wide range of insects. As long as the insects have positive phototaxis, they will be drawn to the light in bug zappers. Phototaxis refers to an animal’s response to light with its motion.

Positive phototaxis means that the organism is drawn to the light, while an organism that is repelled by light is said to have negative phototaxis.

As such, flies, moths, grasshoppers, beetles, corn borers, cutworms and leafhoppers are attracted to the lights in bug zappers, especially when they have high levels of UV radiation. On the flip side, mosquitoes and other biting flies are not attracted to bug zappers.

Indeed, at a point, the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) stated that bug zappers are not the best devices against mosquitoes. This led to bug zappers with attractants manufactured to attract insects with negative phototaxis like mosquitoes.

Are Wasps Attracted To Bug Lights?

Yes, a bug light will attract wasps like other small biting insects.

Ever wondered why you find wasps hanging around the bright lights in your yard at night. Wasps have compound eyes that see ultraviolet light in their full spectrum. This extra sensitivity to ultraviolet rays makes it easy for them to be drawn to a bug light when they see it.

Will Bug Zappers Work On Wasps?

Yes, they will.

Most bug zappers use a combination of UV light and attractants to attract bugs before electrocuting them. The reason for this is the way insects see ultraviolet light. Their eyes are designed to see the light in its full spectrum(which can be pretty attractive) and are drawn to the allure of this light in its full spectrum.

Wasps have positive phototaxis and will be attracted to the UV light in bug zappers. Unfortunately, they get electrocuted once they are drawn to the UV lights.

Will A Bug Zapper Attract Yellow Jackets?

Yes, a bug zapper will attract yellow jackets.

Once the bug zapper is close enough to the yellow jacket nest, they attack the device like any other intruder. Bug zappers have light sources, and they vibrate, which is enough to attract attacks from the yellow jackets.

In addition, they get electrocuted as soon as they get close enough to the electrical currents.


Bug zappers are designed to use ultraviolet lights and attractants (in some cases) to attract insects. Wasps have compound eyes that see UV in all of its “beauty” and brightness, and so they are attracted to bug zappers. The problem is that bug zappers kill insects(biting insects and all) drawn to it.

Although wasps have nasty stings that could be fatal for people who are allergic to them, wasps reduce the population of insect pests in the ecosystem. So if you deplete their numbers, there will be an increase in the population of insects that it preys on.

Although bug zappers kill wasps, the best thing is to strive for a balance with your use of bug zappers.

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