Low-Cost, Homemade Mosquito Trap

You can make this homemade mosquito trap from simple ingredients and materials to help control the mosquito population around your home.

| June/July 2012


North America is home to more than 100 species of mosquitoes, and some may be more attracted to these homemade mosquito traps than others.


Modern technology has brought us many benefits, including mosquito traps that cost hundreds of dollars, but sometimes we overlook simple solutions to difficult challenges such as mosquito control. When it comes to controlling pests, research tends to focus on chemicals or concepts that can be patented. Unless someone can make a profit from an idea, the public may never become aware of it.

Such could be the case with the simple, homemade mosquito trap developed with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Tests in Israel and Africa have found that simple traps baited with fermented fruit juice and a toxin can be highly effective in reducing mosquito levels. Mosquitoes are attracted to the scent from the fruit juice because they feed on nectar and other sugar sources.

The researchers point out that the DIY mosquito trap they tested “may be suitable for the control of subterranean mosquito populations ... suitable areas may include underground storm drains systems ... with stable microclimatic conditions...”

The Israeli researchers tested their traps in cisterns. Most of us don’t have cisterns, but around our homes mosquitoes tend to seek similar locations as resting sites. Buckets, trash cans, old tires and other sheltered sites containing water often harbor mosquitoes. Why not create such sites and then place the baited traps in them? (To be sure mosquitoes can’t breed in the sites, you can add some Bt “mosquito dunks” to the water, to kill any larvae that might hatch.)

We suggest using a covered trash can or wastebasket, with some holes for the mosquitoes to enter and exit and some water in the bottom of the can, and then placing the traps inside these “mosquito shelters.” In the studies in Israel traps placed in cisterns reduced mosquito numbers by 20 times!

Homemade Mosquito Trap

Here are excerpts from the researchers’ description of their bait and traps, from their paper, “Efficacy of toxic sugar baits against adult cistern-dwelling Anopheles claviger”:

6/22/2016 10:08:07 AM

Try using dry ice in a small mesh netted trap similar to a crab or crayfish trap. Some researchers use this method. Hang the trap in a barn, tree, or chicken coop. The CO2 off-gassing attracts the mosquitoes and they cannot figure a way back out. No poison or rotted fruit needed. You could make your own by using tent window netting from a fabric store stretched around some frame such as coat hangers. You can purchase dry ice at most grocery stores. You will need to replenish the dry ice regularly though but a quarter pound piece should last long enough for one night possibly less if you have cool temperatures.

7/8/2015 5:27:43 PM

We have a bumper crop of mosquitoes this year in Michigan! My only concern with this idea is that as I have honey bees, I'm wondering if this would a fatal mistake for the bees to leave something containing Spinosad insecticide. I really don't want to harm any bees.....

4/22/2015 8:20:24 PM

Okay...maybe not bought. Maybe the comments below are just spam. Either way they are clearly fake, and their obvious vagueness and repetition make for a good laugh.

4/22/2015 8:16:14 PM

Interesting how the tone of these comments suddenly changed in August 2014. I thought that bought comments would be a little more varied in content. Guess I was wrong... Want a good laugh, scroll down and see the change for yourself. What do you think happened? **Want another (non-toxic) approach to this problem? Mix 1/4 cup brown sugar, with hot water, then let mixture cool. Introduce 2 tspn of baking yeast. Cut a plastic drink bottle in half. Pour mixture into bottom half. Invert top and place over mixture, so that the top makes a funnel-like passage into the bottom half of the bottle. Tape two halves together. The CO2 emitted as the yeast consumes the sugar attracts mosquitos. The funnel opening allows them in, but makes exit difficult. No poisons or pesticides involved.

9/1/2014 12:29:16 AM

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9/1/2014 12:27:52 AM

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8/19/2014 5:17:34 AM

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7/11/2014 10:40:07 AM

A clarification to my post. We also are very worried about non-pest species being affected. I would never use an open access system. Just look at all the bees and butterflies, etc. that visit the fruit peels I put in our tire compost pile. When filling the bottles, be careful not to be messy and wipe away spills. Also the 1/16th nail holes are around the circumference of the bottle well above the level of the solution, so that no long tongues can reach. We then hung the bottles with string in dry/drier places where we thought mosquitoes would be lurking. We did have a few very interested butterflies around our bottles. But no luck with the mosquitoes.

7/11/2014 6:40:32 AM

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7/9/2014 2:53:19 PM

Do -NOT- use this!! This will decimate your local bee population with it's large holes! Heck, a hummingbird could get in this. Use holes that are small enough that the smallest bees can't get in, say a 1/4 inch (5 mm) or smaller. There's another version here http://www.motherearthnews.com/natural-health/natural-mosquito-repellents-zm0z12jjzhun.aspx?PageId=2#ArticleContent

7/9/2014 11:13:25 AM

Here's an eMail I wrote & sent to about 45 of my friends & Family in Aug., 2013 Hello to all my friends & family~ Here's a case where Hard Research yields an Easy Solution! This mango/cantaloupe/nectarine "slushy", w/boric acid and some water, is NOT TOXIC to humans or pets. VERY RIPE fruit going to bad, is best. Hang up a 1/2 liter of solution in a 1 liter plastic drink-bottle, cap-ON, and with a cutoff TUBESOCK BOTTOM as a sling (with a keyring ), for holding the trap on a treetrunk, deck railing, or bush. You can also simply mount some slightly larger bottles as holders. The sock-slings are washable, however. Melt several HOLES AT TOP with a heated nail (hold by pliers), making SURE the holes are TOO SMALL FOR HONEYBEES: One-eighth inch, or 3mm should suffice. Good Luck! Kathryn Ellis B THE RESEARCH the full article [free] for the Abstract below, is here... http://www.malariajournal.com/content/pdf/1475-2875-11-31.pdf see also... http://www.ars.usda.gov/research/publications/publications.htm?seq_no_115=252033 and... http://www.malarianimby.org/mosquito-attractive-toxic-sugar-bait-atsb/index.php ALSO~ YOU CAN MAKE A TRAP BASED ON THIS RESEARCH, WITH READILY AVAILABLE MATERIALS. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=FvJPppi1cAU http://www.youtube.com/user/HoboTraveler?feature=watch

7/9/2014 8:55:56 AM

We used the recipe given in the references from the Middle East ( 3 tsp. sugar, 1 cup smashed fermented fruit/juice, 1/2 t. boric acid, put in plastic water bottles with 1/16th inch nail punctures), only using whatever fruit we had on hand, which was passion fruit and mango and put the bait in the plastic bottles with 1/16th nail punctures all around as described in the references. We live in a wooded subtropical area with tons of mosquitoes, but all we got in our bottles was zillions of fruit flies and no mosquitoes. We are desperate for a nontoxic solution. To the posters who think frogs and tadpoles help, what do the tadpoles need for food in the buckets to mature?

7/9/2014 8:18:53 AM

I just pour a little used cooking oil on any standing water. Use any can or saucer to make a mosquito trap, put in some water, add a little cooking oil, and any mosquito that lands will be trapped. Better to put traps in an inside corner as more mosquitoes are found there. I guess there is less wind there?

7/9/2014 8:17:09 AM

I am very disappointed with this article. Whether or not this trap works, the plug for the Gates foundation is appalling. Not only are they major supporters of Biotech, they are the forefront of the arrival of the GM Banana. This upsets me. I have relied on Mother Earth News for information that hasn't been infested by and skewed in the favor of Biotech. I certainly hope I can continue to do so and this was just a lapse in quality.

9/11/2013 7:05:27 PM

I have made two batches and have caught huge numbers of flies. We have been under drought conditions and we see few mosquitos. Gonna wait a month and then put out a batch to see if the contraption traps any wasps and hornets the terrorize us on the deck in the fall. We are in Minnesota near the 45th parallel of lattitude.

8/27/2013 4:51:31 PM

did anyone put this formula into man-on-the-street lingo? Seems too complicated to bother with since tree frogs work great for me also. Also have two very large citronella plants on sides of my unscreened front door. Noticed a large drop in mosquitos even tho it has been raining a lot this summer. Since I catch rainwater for all my plants, I have tadpoles in some containers and larvae in others. I simply move tadpoles between containers as the need arises. Also have water hyacinth in several containers for matured tadpoles.

8/3/2013 8:47:16 PM

Should this not be suspicious, Bill and his wife are of the biggest stockholders of Monsanto so not really trustworthy !! They belong to the 1% wealthiest people in the world hat support GENTECH!


7/17/2013 8:07:54 PM

How does the spinosad affect animals that eat mosquitos, i.e., bats, frogs, etc?

7/13/2013 12:20:51 PM

It would have been much more useful to have a drawing of the baiting station, than having the drawing of the mosquito.  Others seem to agree also.  Thank you.


7/11/2013 9:33:43 AM

We are surrounded by woods.  We have lots of frogs.  We noticed mosquito larvae in a small pond we dug for our chickens as well as tadpoles.  Overnight the tadpoles ate all of the larvae.  So we have been setting out kiddie pools, buckets, making small hand dug pools - the frogs lay their eggs right away and we figured the mosquitoes would too.  This is the first year for testing this revelation and it seems our mosquito population is way down.  We have lots of tree frogs and they even climbed into a 55 gal. plastic barrel.  We just love frogs, too and can't have enough of those cute little critters hopping around :-)

7/10/2013 12:35:38 PM

yeah guys, how 'bout a photo.  Not sure what it looks like.  Thanks

7/10/2013 11:23:49 AM

Same here : How about including a photo/Illustration of your diy projects

7/10/2013 10:37:46 AM

How about including a photo/illustration of the trap. Thanks!

cheryl long
9/6/2012 7:05:28 PM

Thanks for posting about this, Mike. You are right that using "lots" of boric acid probably deterred the mosquitos from feeding. I talked with scientists once who were testing recipes for ant baits and they definitely found that if you used even a little bit too much, it would repel the ants. The boric acid should not degrade, but the fruit/sugar baits might need to be renewed. The overseas research that confirmed that baits with boric acid or spinosad could work against mosquitoes were in a desert area where the mosquitoes spent the nights concentrated in cisterns. So they could place the bait stations in the cisterns where the mosquitos would easily find them The researchers noted that in urban areas, mosquitos often use city sewers (where they can't be sprayed with pesticides) in the same way, so that if a neighborhood placed bait stations throughout the sewer system in should reduce the mosquito levels. But in a large wooded area like yours, this method may not work. Please post again if you learn anything more. We believe this approach could become a significant, non-toxic way to control skeeters and reduce West Nile concerns, if only we can get the word out and the details can be worked out. --Cheryl Long, Editor in Chief, Mother Earth News

mike henry
9/6/2012 2:50:02 PM

I did a version of this, and after 1 day I suspect that it was a complete failure. My recipe was; fermented apple cider + brown sugar in the proportions as per the recipe in the Mother Earth article. and "lots of" Boric Acid. My reasoning for straying from the recipe's .04% weight-to-volume proportion for Boric Acid was to ensure the bait was lethal, since nothing would be worse than feeding the mosquitoes and fueling a population INCREASE. The results I observed included; 1. NO mosquitoes fed on the bait-soaked sock (though Bees & fruit flies did), 2. the bait solution was continuously drawn out of the bottle and onto the platform because wicking occurs until the level in the bottle equals the level in the sock, and the sock is level with the BOTTOM of the bottle. This is fatal design flaw, so I disassembled the homemade bottle-and-wick setup and poured the bait solution into a $6 hummingbird feeder. I still have the problem of NO mosquitoes feeding on the bait solution (maybe they eat-and-run?), and am concerned that I am killing the bees that are feeding on the solution - I might try to devise a bee screen of some sort, but if the mosquitoes aren't eating the bait then the attempt is a failure. I do live in the woods, and I read that this approach was not tested in areas with ".....competing sources of food", so maybe the mosquitoes have plenty of food sources and simply do not need to feed on my bait solution. Or maybe the mosquitoes are deterred by the excess amount of boric acid I used - my next batch will follow the .04% recipe so we shall see if that helps. Other considerations are quantity, maintenance, and longevity. re quantity - I live on 1+ heavily wooded acres with approx 50 other similar lots in the community, so I'm guessing I will need many many (dozens?) hummingbird feeders and gallons of baited solution just to impact the mosquitoes on my property......but that may not matter since mosquitoes have a 1 mile range and so will come from neighboring property to feed & breed. re maintenance - monitoring and filling all those feeders is very time consuming. re longevity - I'm not sure how long the bait remains lethal, since the solution seems to have sediment at the bottom, and may become less potent over time due to sunlight, etc. Hope this helps - any ideas/feedback would be much appreciated.

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