Summer is fast approaching and it’s the perfect time to learn how to make a cheap DIY mosquito trap. While you could rely on pre-made mosquito traps and insecticides, those can get expensive and contain chemicals that are bad for humans too. Homemade traps are safer and cheaper and can be very effective at reducing the mosquito population in your yard.
In my opinion, the best DIY mosquito traps that are cheap to make are:
- Fan Trap
- Amish Flying Insect Trap
- Dish Soap and Light Trap
- Snare Trap
- Citrus Trap
- Beer Trap
- Garden Trap
- Bat Trap
- Bird Trap
In this article, first I will show you what each of these traps are. And I’ll show you how to use common household products you probably already have to put them together. These DIY traps don’t use insecticides or dangerous chemicals. They use everyday products that are safe to use in a variety of applications. All of these traps can be put together for under $40, and most of them will cost you less than $10.
Before You Make a Trap You Need To Know These Facts About Mosquitos
When Are Mosquitos Most Active?
According to Terminix, the pest control company, mosquitos are most active when the temperature reaches 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but they especially love temperatures over 70 degrees Fahnrenheit.
In terms of the time of day when mosquitos are most active, there is no cut and dried answer because the answer depends on where you live in the country. Places that are warm and humid most of the year like Florida and Hawaii will be in mosquito season for most of the year (February-November).
New England and the pacific northwest have the shortest mosquito season, between May and September, and most of the rest of the country has mosquitos between April and September.
The time of day mosquitos are most active also depends on the species of mosquito. Generally speaking however, dawn and dusk are considered peak mosquito hours.
How High Do Mosquitos Fly?
The reason you should give some thought as to how high mosquitos like to fly is that this information will affect where you place your traps.
There is alot of conflicting information on the internet about how high mosquitos fly. Some sites say they tend to hang out no higher than 25 ft off the ground; some say they tend to fly between 2-8 ft off the ground; but of course there are caveats to this as there as thousands of mosquito species with different life strategies.
Regardless, it seems that the consensus about North American mosquitos is that they tend to hang around near the ground rather than high up in the trees. This makes sense as the ground is where almost all their sources of food are. So when considering trap placement, placing traps up in trees is fine if it means the scent of your trap can travel farther, but I probably wouldn’t go much above 15 feet.
What Yard Features Attract Mosquitos?
Mosquitos are attracted to stagnant water and warm, humid environments. This is because female mosquitos lay their eggs in stagnant water. Mosquitos can lay hundreds of eggs at a time so removing sources of still water is a critical step in reducing your mosquito load.
Simple bird baths are a common source of stagnant water, although baths with a circulating unit will avoid this problem. Empty flower pots, wheelbarrows, and gutters jammed up with leaves are other common sources of still water.
If you have a source of still water near your yard you can’t get rid of, this will be a perfect place for your DIY trap.
What Colors Are Mosquitos Attracted To?
How well mosquitos actually see is up for debate, but it seems to be a common trend that dark colors such as dark blue, black as well as red seem to attract mosquitos more than light colors.
If mosquitos do indeed have poor eyesight, one theory about the colors that attract them is that mosquitos are attracted to warm bodies, and since dark colors will heat you up faster, dark colors should be avoided.
Regardless of why dark colors attract mosquitos, painting your DIY trap might help you catch more skeeters.
What Attracts Mosquitos To People?
There are several factors about humans that draw mosquitos toward us.
The CO2 we breathe out attracts mosquitos. In fact, in the absence of their sight at night time, mosquitos use the trail of CO2 we breathe out at night to bite us at night. This is why some people in tropical areas sleep under mosquito nets.
Some of the DIY traps I’ll describe below take advantage of this fact by creating other sources of CO2 to draw mosquitos in.
Mosquitos are also drawn in by body heat and sweat.
Despite the uncertainty about how well mosquitos can see, we know for sure they smell extremely well. The scent of the lactic acid in our sweat attracts mosquitos. With those sensitive smellers also comes sensitive receptors for changes in temperature, hence their ability to detect the near presence of a mammal.
How I Calculated The Price of Each Trap
All the prices I researched are the prices on Walmart.com and are the price for an entire bag/bottle of the thing you need. Since it is nearly impossible to find the exact cost of say, one cup of sugar, I used the price of a small bag of sugar. That means the total cost for each trap is actually below what I estimate.
DIY Mosquito Trap Types:
The fan trap is one of the more expensive options, but has rave reviews for effectiveness. What you’ll do is simply attach a screen (or tule fabric) to the side of the fan that pulls air in, and then plug the fan in. Mosquitos are not strong fliers and the fan will hold the mosquitos in place and will dehydrate them with the constant flow of air.
Proponents of the fan trap also suggest having a spray bottle with isopropyl alcohol on hand. A quick spritz of this solution will immediately kill any stragglers left on the mesh.
The wire mesh needs to be fine enough that the mosquitos can’t fit through, and it can be a challenge to find the right size of mesh. For this reason, tule fabric, which is cheap and easy to find in the fabric section of any craft store, or even bona fide mosquito netting, will work just fine.
This method doesn’t have an “attractant” per se, but it is possible mosquitos may be drawn in by either the sound or the motion of the fan.
Check out this video on how to make and operate the fan trap:
- A fan ($17.88 for a 20’’ box fan)
- Fine wire mesh or tule fabric ($2.96)
- Glue or magnet to affix the mesh to the fan (~$5.00)
The total cost for the fan trap is $25.84.
If you want to create an even more powerful trap, switch out the box fan with a high velocity fan. These will be a bit more expensive, but will likely draw in more insects.
Amish Flying Insect Trap
With this trap you will fill the 2-liter soda bottle with all the ingredients and hang the bottle with the lid off from a tree. Simple as that.
For this trap you will need:
- 1 cup sugar ($2.25)
- 1 cup vinegar ($2.52)
- 1-2 banana peels ($0.25)
- 2 cups water
- 1 2-liter soda bottle ($1.78)
- Jute twine (or any type of string or thin cord) ($1.97)
Fill the bottle about 1/3 to halfway full with water, and use a wooden spoon handle to get the banana peels in if you’re having trouble.
I recommend hanging it 25-50 feet away from your main outdoor hangout area if you have a good place to do so. If you hang it from a tree make sure the branch is sturdy as this trap can be a little heavy.
You may need to discard the contents every two weeks or so, but I have read quite positive reviews on this one.
The total estimated cost of this trap, assuming you don’t have any of these products at home already (but I bet you do) is $8.77.
Dish Soap and Light Trap
With this trap the light source acts as a way to bring in mosquitos (remember they are attracted to heat). Then, once the mosquitos are congregating near the light, they’ll naturally funnel themselves in towards a source of water. The dish soap breaks the water tension which will then cause the mosquitos to drown.
To visualize this trap simply picture a light bulb hanging over a bottle or bucket of water. What type of light source and what type of water container is up to you.
For this trap you will need:
- Any tall slender container ($1.43 for a single 16 oz soda bottle)
- 1 tsp dish soap ($2.77)
- 1 flashlight (or any source of light) ($3.46)
The total cost of this trap is $7.66.
For this type of trap you will mix the ingredients into your container (a coke bottle or 5 gallon bucket) and find a place where you can affix the light source just above the open end of the container, with the light facing into the water/soap mixture.
Mosquitos can land on water because water naturally has a very small amount of surface tension. Adding dish soap to your mosquito trap works by eliminating the surface tension on the top of the water that mosquitos need to land on the water and not sink.
If you have an outdoor mounted light and you don’t mind the sight of the bug trap you could try hanging the trap from that pre-existing light.
Hang the trap about three inches under the light source. The bugs will be drawn in by the light and warmth and will then will naturally be lured into the opening of the trap.
I’ve said here you should use any tall slender container but really any container/light combination will do. You could put a five gallon bucket on the ground and put a heat lamp over it (although this might draw in larger critters such as reptiles and amphibians as well).
Variation on this trap:
You can also try a variation on this trap if you don’t have a light source. You can just add soapy water to a saucer and leave it out. I’ve heard this still works well!
The next three types of trap use the same design—sometimes called a snare trap—but use a different liquid “recipe” to catch mosquitos. As you’ll see, each variation is still very cheap to make.
Take a look at this YouTube video which perfectly demonstrates the process I’m about to describe. As a plus the music in this video will get you psyched to make a mosquito trap!
For the snare trap you’ll take a two liter soda bottle and cut the top 1/3 of the bottle off. You’ll then mix your ingredients in the bottom portion of the bottle.
Next you’ll place the top part of the bottle inside the bottom, upside down so that the small opening is facing into the liquid mixture. Don’t push the top half of the bottle all the way to the bottom. Leave enough space for your bait mixture at the bottom of the bottle and for the small opening of the funnel to have a few inches between them.
Be sure to seal the two halves of the bottle along the line where your cut the bottle with duct tape. Doing this creates a funnel that insects can fly into easily, but can’t escape from.
As we discussed, mosquitos are attracted to dark colors and red. Feel free to paint the outside of your bottle one of these colors to maximize your effectiveness.
You’ll want to place all of these traps in places where mosquitos might congregate, like near stagnant water.
These types of traps don’t have the rave success reviews as the fan trap or the Amish flying insect trap, but I still think these are legitimate traps to try. If you can’t use any other type of trap for logistical reasons, it is definitely worth giving these types of traps a try.
Vinegar and Baking Soda Snare Trap
When you mix baking soda and vinegar the result is bubbles of CO2.
Keep in mind that any formula that creates CO2 cannot do so forever. At a certain point all the baking soda will be “used up” by the vinegar and you’d have to keep adding both baking soda and vinegar to keep a steady stream of CO2.
For this reason any trap that emits CO2might best be utilized for short term mosquito control. Consider putting a few of these out just before a big outdoor party rather than relying on them for regular day-to-day control.
- 1 cup baking soda ($2.46)
- 4 cups of apple cider vinegar ($1.60)
- 1 2-liter soda bottle ($1.78)
The total cost of this recipe is $5.84.
Vinegar and Dish Soap Snare Trap
Once again this trap utilizes dish soap which breaks the surface tension of the water and causes the mosquitos to drown.
- 2-liter bottle ($1.78)
- 1 Tbs of dish soap ($2.77)
- 3 cups of apple cider vinegar ($1.60)
The total cost of this trap is $6.15.
Yeast and Sugar Snare Trap
Mixing yeast with water and sugar helps the yeast grow, and growing yeast also creates CO2. You can use brown or white sugar here. Either one will “feed” the yeast, and help it emit the CO2 you need.
- 1 cup white or brown sugar ($2.78)
- 1 packet dry yeast ($2.46)
- 4 cups of warm water
- 1 2-liter soda bottle ($1.78)
The total cost of this trap is $7.02.
Check out this video that shows you step by step how to make the Yeast and Sugar Snare Trap
You may recall that many of the snare traps above utilized yeast and sugar. Well, if you think about it the main ingredients in beer are yeast and sugar, and one of the by-products of beer is CO2. This helps explain why beer can be an effective mosquito trap. This trap is extremely simple and you can use the cheapest beer you can find. Simply pour a can of beer in a cup and let it sit out. Voila!
Note that if you also plan to be drinking beer outdoors, you may still become a target for mosquitos.
The total cost of this trap can be as low as $2.00.
This trap takes advantage of the observation that mosquitos dislike the smell of citrus and cloves (which is why citronella candles smell slightly like citrus!)
To make this trap simple cut a lemon in half and press whole cloves into the lemon. Place the lemon halves around where you plan to sit outside and watch the mosquitos flee.
For this DIY trap you will need:
- 1-2 lemons ($1)
- Whole cloves ($4.56)
The cost of this trap is $5.56.
You can watch this how-to video on how to make the citrus trap.
The next few options I’ll discuss are not traditional “traps” per se, but they are still DIY ways to deter mosquitos, and they’re still cheap! After all, the best defense is a good offense.
The garden trap involves growing plants that naturally repel mosquitos, which thankfully include many ornamental flowering plants and herbs that you may already have growing in your garden. These plants include:
- Marigolds—These are lovely and in addition they can keep aphids away.
- Lavender—the oil in lavender plants may actually inhibit a mosquito’s ability to smell!
- Bee Balm
- Lemon grass—this is the plant that citronella gets it’s smell from.
Remember how I said earlier that mosquitos have very complex smelling receptors? You may notice that most of these plants are highly aromatic, and for whatever reason, mosquitos just don’t like the smell.
Any one of these plants will cost between $5-20 each to plant, depending on the size of the plant. Plant them near your outdoor gathering space for the most effective results.
Bat “Trap” or Attracting Bats To Your Property
Booby trapping your property with creatures that eat mosquitos may be the original mosquito trap. And on the plus side, you can attract bats to your property cheaply!
Bats can have a bat reputation for being scary or dangerous, but in reality, they are neither. The chances of being infected with rabies from a bat are exceedingly low, and they eat TONS of mosquitos and other insects.
You can attract bats to your property in several ways:
- Plant night blooming flowers like four-o’clocks, evening primrose, datura or cleome. The night blooming flowers attract other insects (not mosquitos) that bats love to eat. While they’re around, they’ll also scoop up all the mosquitos they can.
- Build or buy a bat house. Bat houses are a little tricky to make. It’s not as easy as a bird house as bats are picky! They require quite specific design and temperature requirements.
- You can make a house cheaply by watching this video with about 4 cedar fence posts ($10-$50 per post)
The cost of attracting bats to your property can be as low as $5 if you decide to plant just one of the flowers mentioned. If you decide to build a bat house you’re likely looking at a minimum of $40, and the price can go up from there depending on how much you want to invest.
The cost of this “trap” will range between $5-$40.
Bird “Trap” or Attracting Birds To Your Property
Attracting birds to your property is another way to reduce your mosquito load. A few DIY ways to attract birds are to:
- Put out multiple feeders. More feeders with different types of seed will attract a variety of birds.
- Bird feeders range in cost from $10-$100 depending on how elaborate the feeder.
- Bird seed also ranges from about $5 on depending on how fancy your seed is.
- Add different types of bird houses. Birds need nests to both rear young, and to roost in in the winter to keep warm. Each box is designed differently. Bird houses can be constructed cheaply from small pieces of wood.
- Remember that if you add a bird bath make sure it is one that has a waterfall or bubbler feature. This would not necessarily be a DIY project, but I just want to remind you to avoid adding sources of still water.
The estimated cost for attracting more birds to your yard will be a minimum of $15 if you put out one bird feeder and filled it with seed.
Nothing is more annoying than a horde of mosquitos during your summer barbeque, but mosquitos can also be more than just annoying. They can also transmit serious diseases like West Nile virus and Zika virus.
When the mosquitos are bad enough you may not want to drench yourself in toxic chemicals for days on end just so you can be outside. With these cheap DIY mosquito traps you can avoid the toxic mess and protect your family from disease carrying pests at the same time.