Fly Traps and Insect Zappers Buyers' Guide

Pest control is a big deal in restaurants and food production spaces – if a health inspector sees a pest problem, it can drive your health score down, and customers who see bugs are not likely to leave with positive opinions of your establishment. In addition to regular professional pest control and basic property maintenance, you may consider adding one or more restaurant fly traps or bug zappers to your building to help prevent these issues. Because they both use lights to perform their bug-catching duties, these are sometimes called commercial bug lights.

Traps vs. Zappers

There are two main types of installed pest control used in restaurants and other commercial spaces: fly traps and insect zappers. While they serve the same basic purpose, how they go about it is very different and affects their ongoing maintenance requirements.

Insect Zappers

Insect zappers are exactly what they sound like – units that attract insects, then zap them with electricity. These use fluorescent or UV light to lure insects behind an enclosure where they encounter electrified wires that kill them on contact. The biggest drawback to these is the noise they produce. The electrified wires make a very low humming sound that would likely be drowned out under the noise of a restaurant, but there is also a distinctive popping noise when an insect is electrified and killed that may be unsettling to some, especially while they are eating. Because of this, these are usually used in outdoor locations that are away from customer dining areas.

Pros:

  • Kills insects immediately upon contact
  • Fewer replacement parts needed
  • No harmful chemicals
  • Most are made to withstand outdoor elements

Cons:

  • Loud "zapping" noise when bugs are killed may be off-putting to some
  • Some models result in zapped insects falling to the floor, making a mess under the commercial bug light
  • Most models have to be opened and cleaned regularly

Fly Traps

Fly traps lure insects in with a light or appealing scent, then prevent them from escaping. Models that use scented liquids to lure bugs in are usually designed to prevent the bugs from escaping the trap once they're inside, while the units that lure with UV lights generally have glue boards that the insects get stuck to. These traps are silent, and in some cases are designed to be discreet enough that they can be installed in customer-facing locations. However, they do require ongoing glue board purchases, as the boards must be replaced when they are full.

Pros:

  • Silent operation is optimal for customer areas
  • Sconce designs are available for discreet pest control
  • Mess-free design ensures all bugs remain contained

Cons:

  • Full glue boards will need to be removed regularly
  • Glue boards will be an ongoing purchase
  • Trapped insects are visible in some models, making them unsuitable for customer-facing areas

Sizing

It is important to know the size of the space where you plan on installing pest control devices, as each device has a specified square footage of coverage that it can handle. See the table below to find the pest control device that will work best in your space.

Coverage AreaSuggested ModelTypeSuitable for Customer Areas?
Immediate AreaFly-Bye Fruit Fly TrapScent-based trapYes
Up to 900 sq. ft.Curtron Decorative Silent Fly Trap Series 100Light trap with glue boardsYes – multiple exterior finish options
Up to 1500 sq. ft.Curtron Silent Fly Trap Series 200Light trap with glue boardsNo
Up to 1800 sq. ft.Curtron Silent Fly Trap Series 300Light trap with glue boardsNo
Up to 3,500 sq. ft.Curtron Food Production Silent Fly trapLight trap with glueNo

Note that the units that offer the largest coverage areas are not meant for installation in customer areas. This means that if you need to cover a large customer area, you may need several of the smaller decorative models.

Accessories and Maintenance

Fly traps for restaurants require very little in the way of accessories, and each model comes with everything you need to mount and install it. However, whether you have a trap or zapper, if it uses a light, you will need to periodically replace the bulbs. Industry experts suggest changing the bulbs in your trap yearly, even if it still lights up; these UV bulbs can become less attractive to insects over time even if they appear to be working.1 On traps, the glue boards will also need to be changed regularly. Be sure to purchase the glue boards that are made to fit the brand and model of insect trap you have.

The most important part of maintaining your insect trap or zapper beyond those replacement parts is cleaning. A dusty light does not attract insects well, and a dusty glueboard loses its sticky properties quickly, so be sure to dust your traps regularly. Additionally, check your glue boards at least once a week, though you won’t necessarily have to change them that often. Checking weekly allows you to ensure the unit is working properly and will alert you to any sudden influx of pests before they've had weeks to spread and procreate. For zappers, cleaning the unit and the area around it where the dead bugs fall it is important, as the dead insects will attract ants, beetles, and other scavenger insects.

  1. Maintaining ILTs for Maximum Effectiveness. Pest Control Technology. Accessed June 2017.