Zapped Billions

Ron Gatrelle gatrelle at
Tue Nov 7 12:08:24 EST 2000

To John and all,
    If I understood your message correctly, I agree that to many this is a feelings thing not a fact thing. There are way to many such people with a great deal of influence (including financial) who are determining the villains and the causes based on their feelings.  If these people would base their actions on facts they would not have (or waste) their time attacking insect collecting and collectors.
    Now my disagreement.  (Which is not really disagreement because you did not say that bug-zappers -- don't have an adverse affect on the overall population of moth species. You said, what if?) All the facts that are available from formal studies and local observations, demonstrates that these devices definitively affect population density and therefore their local survival. This discussion on zappers began with a post from myself on the topic of light pollution. It is good to see this broad of a response. Now if the feelings people will just feel the pain and go after the real villains who destroy habitat, manufacture zappers, etc. 
   I have had another post I have not been able to get through for two days. Or the one time it did get throuogh it was blanked out. So I hope this makes it. 
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: JH 
  To: leps-l at 
  Sent: Tuesday, November 07, 2000 11:11 AM
  Subject: Re: Billions of Bodies --

  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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