Billions of Bodies --

JH jhimmel at
Tue Nov 7 11:11:17 EST 2000

I wrote an article a while back about bug zappers.  Unfortunately, I no longer have the sources handy (I know you folks like that supporting facts stuff-for good reason) for my info, but below is an exerpt in which I encapsulated some of a couple of studies that were done.

         "In one study, cited in an article by Eirik Blom, only 31 of almost 14,000 insects killed by bug zappers were  female (the ones that bite) mosquitoes. In another, of 10,000 insects killed, eight were mosquitoes. What these bug zappers do attract are many of the insects that prey upon mosquitoes. In yet another study, nearly 2,000 of the dead insects were species that preyed upon mosquitoes. For every mosquito that got zapped, 250 of mosquito predators were taken out of action."

In my backyard, I use a de-zappified bug zapper for my moth sheet (it's easy to disconnect the electrifying grid).  Since it is pretty much outside my bedroom window, and I'd like to remain married, a MV would be way too bright.  Over the years, this zapper has attracted over 750 species representing tens of thousands of individual moths.  Had the zapper been intact, a huge chunk of them would be laying dead at the bottom of the sheet the next morning.  

So what if the bug zappers - all of the bug zappers combined, even - don't have an adverse affect on the overall population of moth species?  For many, that's not the bottom line.  For many, the bottom line is that as individuals, we feel better when we don't kill things indiscriminantly.  

And Jim - I know you weren't suggesting otherwise.  Your message just spurred me to vent.
John Himmelman
Killingworth, CT USA
jhimmel at
Visit my websites at:
-----Original Message-----
To: leps-l at <leps-l at>
Date: Tuesday, November 07, 2000 9:51 AM
Subject: RE: Billions of Bodies --


The number of insects killed by a variety of methods is clearly 
astronomically huge.  I remember some projected number (in 
100s/1000s of *pounds*) killed nightly by some of the large bat 
colonies in the south and southwest.  Someone surely can post 
the details.

On a lesser scale, and at the risk of enraging some of the bug-
huggers, I have done some light trap sampling for the U.S. forest 
service in the past.  One lone light trap can have several thousand 
moths (including the micros) in it.  However, when you realized that 
this is *one* trap with a *dim* fluorescent black light bulb in it, and 
you realized just how much habitat is out there, the number of 
moths that must be out there (extrapolating from one light trap 
sample, or from the number of bats that can be supported by a 
resident insect, mostly moth, population) is in the ridiculous range. 
I'd guess the total number of moth individuals of all species in the 
state of Georgia, for instance, would probably be a number  as long 
as one of the lines of text in this message.  

Please to not mistake this as support for bug zappers.  I've 
have felt all along that bug zappers are one of the stupidest 
inventions ever built.  Not only do they *not* really kill the target 
insects, but they may *attract* more of the target insects into the 
area, which means the owners may be bitten even more than they 
would have been if they didn't have a bug zapper.  But, the fact that 
moth, and so many other insect, populations continue to thrive in 
the face of development, cars, bug zappers, etc., points to the 
resiliency of most insects.  There clearly must be a limit, however.


Dr. James K. Adams
Dept. of Natural Science and Math
Dalton State College
213 N. College Drive
Dalton, GA  30720
Phone: (706)272-4427; fax: (706)272-2533
U of Michigan's President James Angell's 
  Secret of Success: "Grow antennae, not horns"


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