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Review: Mosquito Magnet Liberty

By WILLIAM LAMPKIN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 3, 2002

Mosquito Magnet Liberty

Company: American Biophysics Corp.
Price: $495
[Times photo: Boyzell Hosey]
Mosquito Magnet
Let's skip scratching around the itch and get to the heart of the matter: Keep buying Off.

Our backyard test of the Mosquito Magnet's Liberty model didn't convince us to rush out and buy a mosquito-eating gadget. Even after the machine had been running continuously for four days, we could stand in the backyard at dusk and be mistaken for a buffet line by hungry mosquitoes.

The Magnet comes disassembled in a squat, square box, so pull out your wrenches, screwdriver and pliers. But if you can put together a kid's bicycle or a grill, you shouldn't have much trouble. I pieced together the test model in about an hour while watching TV one Wednesday night. Then I took it outside to add the chemical bait and attach a propane tank (not included), plugged it in and pressed the On/Reset button. Nothing happened.

After a bit of fiddling, I realized the power cord had a short or wasn't making contact with the connector in the Magnet. Twisting the wire around helped make the connection and the unit turned on. After a 10-minute warmup, the Magnet's green indicator light turned on. The light and a slight whir from the fan were the only indication the unit was running. That was about 9 p.m.

The machine converts the propane gas into carbon dioxide that attracts mosquitoes. Another lure, something called octenol, also is supposed to entice mosquitoes to visit the machine where they are sucked into a net and die from dehydration. No poisons or insecticides are involved. The literature claims the device covers up to three-quarters of an acre.

Biting Back

Mosquito vs. machine
A new swarm of entrepreneurs is seeking profits with gadgets that promise to entice and entrap one of our least favorite pests, mosquitoes.

Don't expect to conquer mosquitoes
You can spend a lot or a little to fight mosquitoes. In the end, you might control them, but you won't conquer them.

The 50-foot power cord let me put the Magnet in the middle of my back yard. I had visions of our kids playing itchlessly on the swing set as the summer sun sets and of scratch-free barbecues.

Shortly after 8 the next morning, I was eager to check the night's harvest. Total mosquito count in the net: zero.

The real test was the following weekend. My wife and I spent a good deal of time in the vicinity of the Magnet doing yard work. During the daytime, mosquitoes pretty much left us alone (which isn't unusual). But once the sun began to set and mosquitoes' stomachs started to growl, we were fair game.

After a week of running continuously, the Magnet's harvest was: about a dozen mosquitoes, many more gnats or no-see-ums and a few curious ants.

I keep thinking: $495 will buy a lot of Off with a lot less itching.

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