The Mega-Catch Ultra mosquito trap attracts mosquitoes, then sucks them in with a fan to a container where they're caught and naturally die. Not only are Mega-Catch traps more reliable, several studies have shown they catch more than other brands.
The success is probably due to the multiple ways the trap gets the attention of skeeters. It has a heating element to mimic the body heat of a warm-blooded animal, LED lights that are programmed to simulate movement, UV lights that are known to attract mosquitoes.
The company says you can use their traps without any lure or carbon dioxide (CO2) attractant, which keeps down operating costs. But the Ultra model is also designed to have a cylinder of carbon dioxide attached if you want, and the company says it will increase catch rates up to 400% when set up that way. Unlike propane traps which send out a steady stream of carbon dioxide, it uses a "Variable Quantity Slow CO2 Gas Release System," which is the company's fancy way of saying it gives off the gas intermittently, like an animal or human exhaling.
The trap does not include a CO2 cylinder, but you can purchase one from companies that supply CO2 to the beverage industry, since it's what puts the bubbles in carbonated drinks. You can also find dealers by searching for welding supplies or industrial gases and your zip code and state. Mega-Catch also offers a PDF file of Linde Gas suppliers and a list of Praxair dealers. One 20 lb. cylinder should last about four months.
You can also add an Octenol lure or Mega-Catch's own 3000 Combo Lure, which is designed to attract Asian Tiger mosquitoes. The Combo Lure includes both Octenol and lactic acid, as well as other attractrants. According to a test in November 2004 by USDA entomologist Dr. Dan Kline, traps that used Octenol and lactic acid captured two to three times as many mosquitoes as traps baited with Octenol alone, and other studies have confirmed that lactic acid and the other methods that Mega-Catch uses are what mosquitoes look for. One cartridge lasts about 30 days.
Try the trap without the CO2 or lure at first and see how it does, then if you want to add either one or both, you can compare how many more skeeters are in the container, and decide whether the extra expense is worth it.
There's an optional wet-catch container, which drowns the mosquitoes rather than trapping them in a dry net. A mix of water, a little liquid soap and 3-4 tablespoons of a sweet drink like fruit juice or soda pop adds another attractant, since the odor released is humid like human breath, with a trace of sugar. Here's a video showing how one customer takes care of his trap.
The fan needs cleaned of insect residue occasionally (yuck!) but the job is easier the next time if you spray it with Teflon dry lubricant after cleaning.
If you suspect your trap has had a rough trip in shipping (dented box corners or anything), remove the screws holding the housing on and look inside at the CO2 solenoid and copper tubing. The solenoid is held on by plastic screws which can shear off. Users have reported good customer service by calling the company and requesting replacement metal screws, or just replacing the plastic screws themselves, but it seems to be the one weak point in an otherwise solid construction.
If you're using the wet container, try adding other odors to see if they increase your catch rate. Some users recommend a few bits of broken-up strong-scented cheese. It may emit lactic acid odor, like the 3000 Combo Lure, and therefore enhance the attraction of plain Octenol.
Like all these traps, location is important. See this page for tips on what placement is best. The company recommends that you run the trap 24 hours a day at the start, then use the timer so it only comes on whenever mosquitoes are active, either evening and morning, or all day if you have day-biting skeeters. The number will continue to decrease, as it catches the females and interrupts the breeding cycle. If most of the mosquitoes are breeding in another area, such as a wetland, new ones will continue to hatch, but the trap will continue to kill them when they come near. Unfortunately, it will never get rid of 100% of the mosquitoes in an area, but it can have a dramatic impact and get the levels down to something easily tolerable.
Reviews of the Mega Catch Ultra mosquito trap
"First ran it without the CO2 and it did well, but there were still mosquitoes in the evening. I decided to track down where to buy CO2, added a cylinder, and the catching went into overdrive. It was easy to attach and I noticed an increase in the mosquitoes in the trap the first evening. The cost is very reasonable, since the CO2 is supposed to last the rest of the season, unlike the propane you have to keep changing every few weeks in the propane traps."
"What I like is this trap is inexpensive to operate compared to the propane ones, even with the CO2 and lures, but at the end of the season when it's already killed off most of the skeeters, I run it without those. The lures are probably the biggest expense. It uses very little power."
"I bought a Mega Catch to replace a Mosquito Magnet trap that never really worked right and was expecting the same frustration, but this was so much better. I've had it almost two years now and it started right up at the beginning of the second season."
"This lives up to its name, catching mega numbers of mosquitoes. The first night I thought it really wasn't doing anything, but after a few days, I checked the trap and there was a solid layer of mosquitoes. After a few more weeks of steady operation, the mosquitoes were down to almost nothing, just couple an evening, like a normal yard, not like the mosquito-heaven, or mosquito-hell, we used to face when going outside."
Photos courtesy of the CDC and Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.