Can a Bug Zapper Get Wet (Left in the Rain)?

When a late-night storm rolls in, you might be worried about whether or not your bug zapper will be okay out in the rain. It’s also quite a hassle to get up in the middle of the night to check on it. Well, rest assured, we got you covered with all you need to know. 

Most outdoor bug zappers are made to withstand typical storms and rain showers and are okay to be left outside and turned on. You will need to check to ensure that your device rates for outdoor use.

If so, then the main concern is to ensure that the plug and any extension cord terminals are not in a location that could get wet.

If you are unsure whether you have an outdoor model, this article can help you make the right decision. If you have an outdoor model, we will also have some tips that may help you use it effectively and prolong its lifespan. 

Can Bug Zappers Be Used Outdoors?

Many outdoor bug zappers can get wet when it rains, or storms and it is safe to leave your bug zapper on during the wet season.

However, you’ll need to check if it can withstand outdoor usage. The manufacturers have this in mind and have constructed them to handle the elements.

It is not wise to bring an indoor bug zapper outside because it is not as heavy-duty as the outdoor version, making it only used inside.

Types of Bug Zappers

There are many types of bug zappers on the market, each intended for different areas or applications. Some of the most common bug zapper types include:

  • Outdoor lantern style
  • Indoor lantern style (hanging or tabletop)
  • Indoor briefcase style
  • Outdoor solar torches
  • Handheld racket style

The two outdoor models (lanterns and solar torches) are waterproof and can hold up to rainstorms. You can leave them on all the time, so you will not have to run out and shut them off in the middle of a sudden downpour. 

The solar torches should be a set-it and forget-it system that will run whenever the batteries have charged. 

If you have purchased an outdoor lantern style bug zapper, then it is intended that you will be hanging it in a location that is away from where you sit, so it would not be convenient to have to switch it on and off all the time. 

Are All Bug Zappers Waterproof?

All outdoor bug zappers will be rated to withstand storms and rain and are water-resistant or waterproof. 

The problem arises because many indoor lantern models look very similar to outdoor styles. However, indoor bug zappers are not waterproof and should not be used for wet areas.

If they get exposed to water, there is likely to be a short circuit in the electrical killing grid or the UV bulb. If this occurs, the best-case scenario is that it simply blows out a fuse at your breaker box, and you can unplug the bug zapper and reset the fuse. 

However, in most cases, this will result in a bug zapper stoped working.

It is wise to protect all indoor models (hanging/tabletop lantern style, briefcase style) and the handheld rackets from the water. Please do not use them on wet surfaces, around pools, hot tubs, showers, or other such areas. 

Using them around water could result in damage to the unit and injury to yourself or others. Only use indoor and handheld bug zappers when there is no chance of it getting wet, and always store them properly when not being used. 

What Precautions Should I Take With Outdoor Bug Zappers?

Although outdoor bug zappers are waterproof, this rating is intended only for rain or other types of precipitation. The units will break and can cause injury or death if submerged in water. 

1. Keep Away From Standing Water

Ensure that you never hang outdoor bug zappers near sources of standing water, like pools or jacuzzis. 

2. Watch for the Plug

Another thing to remember is that while the bug zapper may withstand the elements, the plug is not. If the fitting is exposed to water, it can cause electrical shorts, fire, or even harm people in the vicinity. 

3. Use Outdoor Outlets

Always use outdoor outlets to power your bug zapper, and ensure that they are in a location that will not get wet. Never use multi-socket extension cords or power strips to power outdoor bug zappers that you intend to leave for extended periods. 

4. Use Waterproof Covers

If you need an extension cord to power an outdoor bug zapper, be sure to protect the plug and outlet with a waterproof cover. 

Should You Leave Bug Zapper on All the Time?

Outdoor bug zappers should be left on all the time to disrupt the insect’s breeding cycles. The manufacturers suggest keeping it on day and night for best results and have designed it to tolerate such use. 

Indoor bug zappers can also be left on all the time unless it is unsafe to do so due to pets, kids, or other factors. You will need to check your particular unit to ensure it is rated for such use and will not overheat. 

Of course, if you are leaving your house for a long time, it may be best to unplug it. 

Can a Bug Zapper Catch Fire?

Although a common concern, there is little reason to worry about bug zappers catching fire. According to the International Association of Home Inspectors, bug zappers pose no more fire risk than any other electrical appliance. 

In other words, the main concerns are the plugs and any frayed or damaged electrical cords. So, be sure to check that all cables are in good condition and that plugs stay well away from any water sources or wet areas. 

Furthermore, they recommended that outdoor bug zappers only be plugged into a GFCI protected outlet.  

Can a Bug Zapper Injure Birds & Other Animals?

While the bug zapper has the potential to injure animals and birds, most outdoor units have a plastic protective mesh that would prevent contact with the electric grid. The only possible worry is animals reaching through the protective mesh to the grid, such as hummingbirds.

Keeping it Away from Hummingbirds

Although we could only find a few references to this occurring, if it is something you are worried about, you can take a few precautions:

  • Do not place hummingbird feeders anywhere near a bug zapper.
  • Only turn bug zappers on at night when the hummingbirds are sleeping.
  • Turn off the bug zappers early in the morning before hummingbirds being to forage.

Beneficial Insects Suffer

While bug zappers do not directly threaten wildlife, you should be aware that they kill many more beneficial insects than biting ones. Only about 3.3% of the bugs killed are mosquitoes, and many others are pollinators or predators of pest insects.  

Eliminating these can negatively affect the ecosystem, as many other species rely on bugs as their primary food source. It is estimated the bug zappers kill about 71 billion non-mosquito insects every year, taking food away from birds, bats, and fish. 

It is also important to remember that pesticides and other chemicals are much worse for the birds and other animals than a bug zapper. Chemicals also persist in the ecosystem and can cause cancer and other chronic health issues for humans. 

In the end, this is a decision you will have to make based on what you think is best for your family and the area where you live. 

If you want to ensure that you only target mosquitos and other pest insects with your bug zapper, then look for units specifically for this. 

Devices like the Moskinator, Mosquitron, or the MosQiller use a combination of UV light and a fan to suck in and target small flying insects like mosquitoes and gnats rather than the more unselective models typically on the market. 

Where is the Best Place to Hang an Outdoor Bug Zapper?

The best place to hang a bug zapper is at the perimeter of your yard or seating area. You do not want to position the unit near where you will be sitting or hanging out because the light will attract more insects to that area. 

Some studies found that people were more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes when positioned close to the bug zappers. 

Ensure that you attract insects away from you and intercept them on their way into your space. We recommend placing them about 30 feet from the area you will be sitting or hanging out in. 

It is wise to hang bug zappers at the height of 7 feet off the ground for both practical and safe usage. 

Lastly, be sure not to hang the units directly overhead or over food preparation areas. When the electric shock’s high heat explodes bugs, they can release allergens and microbial pathogens that can irritate your sinuses or even make you sick. 

Bugs exploding are a great reason to purchase the bug zapper models with a collection tray to catch the killed insects. 

Do I Need to Maintain an Outdoor Bug Zapper?

Inspect outdoor bug zappers to ensure that they are working correctly and to clean them up. 

Every month, you should inspect the bug zapper to ensure it is still working and the weather or animals have not damaged it. It would be best to empty any bug traps not to accumulate too many bug parts.

Also, inspect all cables and extension cords to ensure they are not damaged or exposed to water. 

Once a year, you should also clean off the killing grid to ensure that it does not become too caked in dead insects. The more insects trapped on the grid, the less effective it will be. 

There are a few steps you can use to clean the killing grid:

  1. Turn off the unit and unplug it from the outlet to ensure it has no power going to it.
  2. Remove any tray or traps and empty them of bug parts. Wash them with a hose or in the sink and allow them to dry
  3. Use an old toothbrush or laundry brush to scrape any dead bugs from the killing grid. Be sure not to damage the grid by pushing too hard. 
  4. Wipe the grid with a wet paper towel or rag to remove any grim or caked-on debris
  5. Inspect the hood and all working parts before reassembly 

How Else Can I Eliminate Mosquitos Around My Home?

There are several ways to reduce populations of mosquitoes around your home and keep them from biting you. Many researchers suggest that these methods can be more effective than big zappers in eliminating pest insects. 

1. Eliminate Breeding Grounds

The best way to prevent adult mosquitos is to break the life cycle where it starts – with the eggs and larvae. 

Mosquitos lay eggs in or near water sources. These eggs can persist for a long time, but they can go from egg to larvae in just 24-48 hours when ready to develop. 

From there, it takes only 2 to 3 days for the larvae to develop into flying adults. This means that any standing water can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes in less than a week. 

To present this, be vigilant about eliminating any sources of standing water around your home, including old buckets, plastic bags, tires, or other such items. Also, be sure to clean and remove all leaf litter from your gutters and drainages.

If you have birdbaths or ponds, be sure to change the water regularly or add insectivorous fish or tadpoles.  

If that is not possible, or for areas that flood intermittently, you can use the biological control called BTI. This bacteria comes in powder form or looks like sand, and when placed in water, produces compounds that are toxic to mosquito larval but entirely safe for humans and pets. 

You can also reduce their numbers by keeping the grass cut short and trees well-trimmed, as these are areas where the mosquitoes will rest or breed. 

2. Use Mechanical Barriers and Fans

If possible, screen in your outdoor patio or deck to prevent flying insects from coming in. You can also buy screened tents or gazebos for camping or other outdoor activities.

Because mosquitos and gnats cannot fly against the wind, a strong fan can be a safe and effective way to protect yourself. 

3. Other Methods

Wearing insect repellents containing DEET is one of the most well-proven ways to avoid mosquito bites. Also, if you are outside during peak hours (dusk or dawn), then wear long clothing to prevent bites. 

Some also suggest working with nature to solve the problem by attracting animals who eat mosquitoes. You might consider adding a bat box to your garden, as bats consume between 600 and 1,000 mosquitoes per day and are not a threat to your family or pets. 

Your outdoor bug zapper works best as part of a more holistic plan of eliminating mosquitoes from around your home and community. So, implement various methods, and coordinate with neighbors to reduce the areas where mosquitoes breed and develop. 


Photo of author

Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.
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