My friend is managing a tiny guesthouse on an otherwise desert island in Indonesia and, as you could expect, have big problems with mosquitoes.

I plan to make some test one of those days using PET bottle as trap as described here:


Don't get it wrong: I do not plan to put it in the room (it is not efficient enough), but in the nearby swamp. It is supposed to kill slowly but steadily, so i hope that laying 2 such trap would make a difference.

My problem is that sugar is expensive.

I am planning to try with compost instead. Do you have any other idea/ experience?

  • 7
    You want to build a mosquito trap in a swamp in order to reduce the number of mosquitos in a nearby guesthouse? I don't know how big the swamp is and how far away it is from the guesthouse but my guess is that the effect will be minimal (i.e. not noticeable).
    – THelper
    Commented May 10, 2014 at 17:20
  • 1
    Not particularly sustainable perhaps, but interesting and maybe even cost-effective, eventually: shoot them down with lasers phys.org/news185463943.html :-) Commented May 12, 2014 at 22:34
  • LOL! I can imagine that on my island: youtube.com/watch?v=HQDy-5IQvuU Too bad we have no electricity
    – Madlozoz
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 6:24

3 Answers 3


Compost probably won't work, as you need something that emits carbon dioxide. Something starchy (eg potato, flour), chopped into small pieces, and mixed with some yeast and water may still work as well as sugar.

However, as @THelper says in his comment directly against the question, the swamp is probably the wrong place to put a trap to get an effective result.

  • 1
    To substitute for sugar, I would add to the list: anything sweet, such as honey or fruit. The yeast will happily consume the sugars and release CO2.
    – andy256
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 3:22
  • I don't know if cleaning the swamp is realistic, but it is the way those traps intend to work. Killing 5% of female mosquitoes going by is not going to make a difference in your home, but after 30 days, it would in the swamp. Would it take 5 traps or 5000 is yet unknown. I assume that "cleaning" 100m around the hut is enough but I have no idea how far an Anopheles mosquito(malaria bearer) can fly.
    – Madlozoz
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 6:10

I would suggest a combination of methods to control the mosquitoes. The Lethal ovitrap is one approach, but if we look at the mosquito life cycle, we see multiple points of attack.

  • Adult breeding.
    Government and Aid Agencies breed and release huge numbers of sterile male mosquitoes to interrupt breeding in some parts of the world. I assume that such an endeavour is not feasible for a private individual, and I have doubts about it's long term effectiveness.
    Mosquitoes require standing water to breed. While the swamp you mention is an obvious source, any still water that lasts for more the 3 days can support breeding mosquitoes. That includes any puddles or pools formed by rain. Examples include the roof guttering of buildings, bromeliads (plants that catch water), pot-plant bases, old car tires, plastic containers, and more. Look around after rain to see the many places that mosquitoes can breed. When those places are identified, make changes so that the water can drain away.

  • Eggs, Larvae, and Pupae. The mosquito larvae and pupae live in water, and can possibly survive in very moist soil. Different species develop at different rates, but temperature also has an effect. Some species can develop from eggs to adults in five days.
    The Larvae and Pupae need to breathe. So one control method is to spread an oil film on stagnant water.
    A more ecologically sustainable solution is to create conditions where predators can do the work for you. While draining the swamp may not be feasible, making changes so that all the pools of water are connected will allow any predator fish that are present to find and feed on the larvae and pupae.

  • Female Mosquito Bites. The female bites animals to draw blood that is used for the development of her eggs. So killing the females or just repelling them has a long-term effect. I have found that Citronella and also Mosquito coils are very effective. Wikipedia lists many natural repellents that could be considered. Pyrethrin is a naturally derived insecticide that also acts as a repellent in lower doses. In my understanding, Pyrethrin can be applied to surfaces as a long-lasting deterrent.

There are many options, but I suggest the first thing to do is to take some measurements. Count how many mosquitoes are attracted to you in, say, 30 minutes before you start any counter-measures. After implementing one or more counter-measures, repeat your counting experiment.

  • Thank you for the suggestions. The government help is not realistic there, but connecting the pools looks like a great idea. To give you an idea here is the location on google map google.com/maps/@2.2740494,97.2773068,2001m/data=!3m1!1e3
    – Madlozoz
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 8:41
  • 1
    Thanks for the reference. Do you know, or can you find out what fish or other predators could be present?
    – andy256
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 11:53
  • I need to go back on site before. Not before one month. I'd rather prepare much in advance. It's not the kind of place where you want to realize you forgot your matches. Factoid: in Sumatra, matches don't burn as they don't bother seasoning the wood. As the island is small (2km at most), fresh-water fishes would certainly be tiny and unknown to lay people. I expect to find fireflies and frogs. I guess Seawater crocodile are no help.
    – Madlozoz
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 5:56
  • Correction: I don't remember hearing frogs there. Cats, snakes and monitor lizards are probably at cause. Or local toads are silent.
    – Madlozoz
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 6:16

My position on mosquitos is that they are welcome to live where they belong, and to serve their purpose there. I just don't want them biting me. Therefore I would not try to kill them in the swamp. I would instead try to:

  • keep them out of the guesthouse
  • keep them away from guests if they do get inside the guesthouse
  • keep them away from guests in the vicinity of the guesthouse

I would do this with a variety of approaches all at once:

  • check for stagnant water around the guesthouse (say, 50 feet.)
  • learn what eats mosquitoes where you live (bats, for example) and how to encourage them (build a bat box on a tree near the guesthouse.)
  • install screens in the windows and doors of the guesthouse
  • install sleeping nets over the bed in the guesthouse
  • provide citronella coils or candles (and matches!) for use outdoors. These aren't safe indoors - tell your guests this.
  • encourage your guests to bring insect repellant and clothing (very lightweight long pants and long sleeved shirts for example) in an email you send them before they arrive.
  • teach your guests when the mosquitos are worst. In Ontario, it's July and August, and it's worst in the early evening when the air is still. Encourage them to wear the clothes and repellent then, to use the citronella outside, and to keep the screens closed to keep the bugs out.

While mosquitos don't carry diseases where I live, they can spoil a summer evening or make gardening almost impossible. I've learned how to minimize the biting without killing them all for miles around me.


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