Some LED makers aren’t content with creating light bulbs that are energy efficient. Sengled wants to add in security features, like motion sensors and facial recognition, while Sony has a speaker bulb. As LEDs become more inexpensive and commonplace, you can expect them to start popping up in place of traditional bulbs. Case in point, the ZappLight, which is an LED bulb with a built-in bug zapper.
It puts out 920 lumens of white light (somewhere between a 60- and 75-watt-equivalent) and also uses a blue ultraviolet light to attract insects. They are then hit with one watt of electricity inside the bug-zapping grid. Unlike traditional bug zappers, the whole thing is housed in a $20 LED bulb that fits in a normal light socket and twists apart so you can clean out the dead bugs.
“This light bulb is the first of its kind which combines access to life-saving mosquito protection and energy-efficient LED light in one small safe bulb,” Paul Van Kleef, founder of ZappLight, told Digital Trends in an email. “This bulb is unique as it discreetly protects your home 24/7 without the use of chemicals or a traditional large, energy wasting, electric bug grid.”
Bug zappers definitely work on a number of flying insects but their effectiveness on mosquitoes in particular isn’t well-documented. In 1996 Professor Douglas Tallamy of the University of Delaware published a study after he had a high school student named Timothy B. Frick spend a summer collecting all the insects from six bug zappers in suburban yards, according to The New York Times. Of the 13,789 fried bugs they counted, only 31 were biting insects, including female mosquitoes and biting gnats. That’s a lot of zapped critters, but not too many of them were capable of carrying diseases like the West Nile and Zika viruses.
That’s because mosquitoes, while attracted to light, are actually more attracted to the carbon dioxide humans breathe out. If you’re sitting outside with your zapper, they’re probably going to ignore the light and head for you instead. Researchers have found the insects are also using thermal sensory information to detect body heat, as well as visual cues, to find their way to your blood.
So instead of using light, researchers are testing ways to capture the biting bugs with “mosquito landing boxes” that mimic human breath, according to a study published in Malaria Journal. Four-hundred lab-bred insects were released into tents containing boxes outfitted with a solar fan blowing the scent of jars releasing CO2 from a mixture of molasses and yeast. These boxes also contained either insecticide or fungi to kill or sterilize the insects. The insecticide worked on sixty-three percent of the insects, and the fungi contaminated 43 percent. Few insects were attracted to a control box, and human volunteers helped show how the boxes would function in an environment where people actually live. The device needs further testing but traps like it could one day help populations devastated by malaria and other diseases.
In the meantime, of course, the ZappLight will certainly at least offer a novel combination of lighting and relief from those other non-biting insects.