How to Make a Mosquito Trap That Really Works

A female mosquito has landed on someone's skin and is getting ready to feed.

mrs

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 15 mins - 2 hrs, 15 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins - 2 hrs, 15 mins
  • Yield: 1 trap
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $50 to $75

Mosquitoes have a way of sucking the fun out of summer activities, don't they? Many of us enjoy late nights grilling, celebrating, and enjoying our loved ones, but nobody looks forward to the raised bumps, red welts, and pesky itch that mosquito bites cause. So, what's the best way to keep mosquitoes away?

The most enticing attractant for mosquitoes is humans. Mosquitoes have good instincts and are drawn to the scent of our skin as well as the carbon dioxide (CO2) we exhale. If you're outside and breathing, nearby mosquitoes will likely be drawn to you.

This DIY mosquito trap is made to mimic mosquito traps used by the CDC. It uses a mosquito's attraction to CO2 against it by drawing them into a bug-killing light using carbon dioxide. Keep in mind that this solution is best used when you're trying to keep mosquitoes away from your family and friends for a specific event such as a backyard wedding or BBQ.

Below are additional solutions for ongoing mosquito control.

Before You Begin

This DIY mosquito trap will work best if you're already making efforts to keep the mosquito population in your yard low. For maximum mosquito control, you're going to need to combine control methods and continue your efforts longterm. Pest control is never a one-and-done solution.

For easy mosquito control around your yard, start with these steps:

  • Reduce standing water: Mosquitoes use standing water for reproduction. If you've ever seen a bunch of tiny, squiggly black wormy creatures in your bird bath or dog's water dish, these were likely mosquito larvae (understandably called wrigglers). Mosquitoes prefer more shallow water sources (24 inches or less). Even a bottle cap of water is enough, so leave no shallow water source unturned.
  • Use an outdoor mosquito light: These lights are hung outside and used to reduce mosquito populations. For this project, we'll be using an attract-and-zap style bug light, but there are also mosquito repellant lights available. Research to see what option is best for you.
  • Avoid dark clothing while outside: Studies have shown that mosquitoes are most attracted to the color black when carbon dioxide is present in the air. If the mosquito is already drawn to the air you exhale, don't give it more of an invitation by wearing black clothing.
  • Burn scented candles: Many swear by "mosquito-repelling" citronella candles, and if you like the way those smell, burn away. The primary benefit of burning scented candles while outside is to cover up your smell so the mosquitoes won't come near. Grab your favorite scented candle and tell those mosquitoes that you are not their buffet.

Safety Considerations

  • Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide—and it is really cold. Working with dry ice can be dangerous if not done properly. You should familiarize yourself with all safety precautions and dangers relating to dry ice before proceeding.
  • Dry ice is not a hazardous substance, but it is considered a 'dangerous good'. Not only can dry ice burn your skin, but it should never be stored in a closed container or put in your standard freezer. It can cause damage to your pipes if you leave dry ice in the sink to melt, and its fumes shouldn't be breathed in. Should you need to store the dry ice without a freezer, you'll need to purchase a cooler that is rated to store it. The better the cooler, the longer it will last.
  • You should assemble your mosquito trap in a well-ventilated area. Be sure to wear protective clothing that covers your skin as well as closed-toe shoes, eye protection, and thick gloves.

Tip

Five to ten pounds of dry ice will last between 3-5 hours outside, so keep this in mind when deciding how much to purchase. Plan ahead for where you're going to purchase your dry ice. There are sometimes shortages and supply interruptions, and some locations require the purchaser to be 18+ years of age. Need dry ice alternatives? Read more below.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 mosquito zapping light
  • 1 pair of thick work gloves
  • 1 pair of closed-toe shoes and protective clothing
  • Eye protection
  • 1 drill or other tools for installing hanging hooks

Materials

  • 2 heavy duty hanging hooks (15 lb limit)
  • 1 large, dark drawstring bag (preferably black)
  • 5 pounds dry ice

Instructions

How to Create a DIY Mosquito Trap

  1. Hang a Mosquito Zapper Light

    Carefully hang your mosquito light outdoors. Pick an area that will stay dry and is away from people, with enough space to hang your dry ice nearby.

  2. Install Another Hook Near Your Mosquito Light

    Install a hook near the light trap where you can hang the drawstring bag. Measure your bag before installing your hook. You'll want to make sure the bag won't touch the mosquito light while it hangs, as this could create a fire hazard.

    Tip

    Consider making your own drawstring bag out of an old, black t-shirt. Black fabric will make your carbon dioxide trap that much more appealing to mosquitoes.

  3. Fill Your Bag with Dry Ice

    Carefully fill your black drawstring bag with five to ten pounds of dry ice.

    Tip

    If you can purchase dry ice pellets instead of a block, this will be easier to work with. If you want, you can use a garden shovel for easy scooping.

  4. Hang Your Bag of Dry Ice

    Once your bag of dry ice is hanging near your mosquito light, the carbon dioxide will draw mosquitoes in while the light finishes them off. Use gloves and protective clothing to carefully add more dry ice as necessary.

Another Simple DIY Mosquito Trap

If dry ice is too hard to find, too expensive, or if your mosquito problem isn't too severe, consider making a simple bottle trap similar to the ones made for flies, but use yeast mixed with water as your attractant.

Fermenting yeast also releases carbon dioxide, but not nearly as much as dry ice. While dry ice will have more of the desired effect, yeast may be enough to get the job done, especially if placed near a mosquito-zapping light.

When to Call a Professional

If you have a persistent and ongoing mosquito issue, or if you're tempted to try using chemical controls, it's time to call in the pros.

When shopping for pest control, make sure not to fall for sales pitches that promise the world and focus heavily on chemical applications. If a professional company doesn't need to treat with chemical, they shouldn't. Chemical should always be a last resort for mosquitoes, used in tandem with reducing standing water, using light traps, and repelling them.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. How Mosquitoes Detect People, National Institutes of Health

  2. Alternatives to Dry Ice Used in Mosquito Traps for Surveillance, CDC

  3. Mosquito Life Cycle, EPA

  4. Preliminary study on the effectiveness of mosquito repelling lamp, National Library of Medicine
  5. The olfactory gating of visual preferences to human skin and visible spectra in mosquitoes, Nature Communications
  6. Dry Ice Tip Sheet, Cornell University