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Newer technology is not always better (but tends to be more expensive either way!!)
on June 24, 2009
Background you can skip
Normally I stay away from writing reviews for items that have already been throughly reviewed and compared as I can be of more help writing about the stuff no one else has tried yet. In this case, since it became such a huge unsolvable problem for us, I felt compelled to write about going 'low tech' for a change.
Here's the scoop: we moved to a new home in late 06: 4 acres, large 12,000 gallon pond, about 1 acre grass, the rest trees/wooded.
Little did we know that the previous owners had put that pond in because of the excess water in the area. The trees were virtually always, except during summer, in puddles or swamp waters. With the recent turn-to-wet climate this problem got exacerbated. Net result: swarms and swarms of mosquitoes taking over our lot. Even the UPS guy and our postie complained when they had to deliver. We had the city come out but other than once a season spraying there was no solace.
So we looked online and finally settled for what we considered the high tech solution: the Mega Catch Premier.. We bought 2 and paid heftily for those...250$ a piece. The concept was a machine that fools mosquitoes into chasing it as it presents itself to mosquito senses as a living breeding and bleeding mammal. It basically looks like a black plastic square box with some openings. In the top part of the box are colored blinking lights (led) that rotate. Aparentlhy mosquitoes see this as movement. Secondly, under those lights, there is a large computer style fan that creates downdraft...into a compartment below when you keep octenol and a bowl with sugar water and hotdog bits. (?) Kid you not.
It actually did make a dent in the population. Let us not claim it was useless, because it was not. The problem with the MC was really about maintenance, cost of maintaining and ultimately durability. Both lasted about 1.5 years before they sputtered and died. The bowls with the liquid often filled up with mosquitoes and other flying insects (millions of moths) and then dried to a hard crust. Ipso facto: clean it often!! Horrendous. Secondly, the fans would become encrusted with insect bits and ultimately jammed until you scraped them. Finally, the octenol was expensive and not easily changed (little jamming door that would make the liquids spill).
To make a long story short: super high tech concept, often claimed to be better than the even more expensive (uses propane) Mosquito magnet.
Well it was, but not for long and it was a pain to keep up with nor did we want to spend such an amount again for a half-functioning solution.
We then started to read up on websites and found the long-been-around Flowtron 80D. The smaller models did not get great ratings (albeit not half bad for dirt cheap zappers) but the BK-80D stood out. Here on Amazon it got close to an avg. of a five. Other sites, with plenty of real life desperater people in similar situations as ours, it was listed as the simpelest and most effective remedy.
About the Flowtron BK-80D
So we shelled out 2x 80$ for 2. Thanks to Prime we got them 2 days later for free (did I say I heart Amazon?).
The units are larger than you might think, and in order to show the size I added some pictures up top with my hand next to it. I am a 6ft male so you can see that these aren't small units.
The unit is not heavy but bulky and make of very sturdy plastic that apprently can handle years of UV damage. Many folks have had these uinits for 5 years plus (it seems to have been in the market since the late 90's which is proof that it is a working concept).
The 80 watt light is big and in a U shape and on the bottom you have 2 Octenol slots. You get 1 x 30 day cartridge. You do not have to use Octenol but we know it works even better with it. (you can order cheap refills online nowadays with free ship for lesst than 5$ a cartide).
The outside grills, made of plastic are horizontal but the inside electric zapper grid is vertical in orientation. More so the bottom is left relatively open apart from the Octenol slots. This is VERY important, as other devices clog up. This one: you will collecvt a heap of insect parts below it. Much easier to clean.
That else is there to say: the electric cord is about 6 inches so you need to connect it to a longer outdoor extension cable to have any type of reach. The unit has a big ring so you can hang it on a planter pole or anywhere else.
Some important tips from others that do work
We read the manual and had picked up some good pointers online: do not hang these within 20 to 25 ft from where you want to sit! Effectively this thing attracts mosquitoes and other flying mini-bloodsuckers and unless you enjoy the pain (...) you would not want to sit in a cloud of those. As one (funny!!) reviewer commented: "Capt'n, the thing does not work, it actually attracted mosquitoes and I could not sit outside anymore". This person had put the Flowtron right next to their chair. Really: 25 ft or so is perfect: one of them, this morning, had at least 300 mosquitoes hanging around on the siding, staying close to the unit taking their mid day nap. At night, sunset, they become active and the zapping kicks into hight gear.
Tip #2: fo look at the source of the mosquitoes and strategically place these. Even though it cover 1.5 acres a piece, you can get more out of it placing it close to the source of the evil. DO NOT place it where it does not stand out, ie. do not choose to hide it out of sight, place it where you need it.
#3: Determine when mosquito-twilight starts. Ours starts at 7pm and lasts until about 7 AM when they disappear to the swamps. To save electricity, the bulbs and cleaning: but a timer or a dusk-til-dawn photocell timer for 5$ and add those.
#4: use the octenol. It does help. You can buy it cheap nowadays. What is 5$ for 40 days of mosquito-slaughtering. Revenge is priceless I'd say.
#5: Hang it between 4 and 6ft from the ground, not too close to a wall. Seems most effective,others noted, we tried and saw interesting pickup in bodyparts.
We, at first, thought we were duped. We hubg the Flowtrons at about 5PM and the occassional zap, one every minute or so, occurred. At that rate we'd never be able to get a habitable patio/outdoors.
But BEHOLD: around 7.30 PM to 8 in the evening when the sun heat started to recede, the party began... it became a NON-STOP zapping. I literally mean 1 or 2 a second. At it lasted all night. The kids even complained that the thing kept them up all night (had one right outside their window which was open, but with bugscreen;)) . We ran out after day 1 and there was a gray circle below the Flowtron on the ground. Just insect parts. So many it was gross.
This thing killed more mosquitoes in one night than the MegaCatch did in a week I am estimating.
After 2 (!!!) nights we experienced a significant decline in attacks and give or take a week or 2 more we will be able to stay outside without the bugsprays, citronella torches, long sleeves... what a relief!!
We are truly grateful we tried Low tech! For once.
PROS and CONS
Need we say more? See above (my fingers hurt from typing.) Hope the pictures do it justice.