mosquito control in puerto rico
We thought we solved our mosquito problem for good with the balcony mosquito control tactics I had previously shared here on the blog. For a little over three years, mosquitos on our balcony were few and far between, making the occasional party crashers easily manageable with a mosquito racket. During this time of relative peace, Holly and I were able to enjoy our morning coffee on the balcony unmolested by mosquitos for the most part.
This all came to an abrupt end this summer. Every time we stepped out on the balcony we were swarmed by a dozen or so mosquitoes. After zapping those we’d sit down for a moment only to have to jump right back up to track down and eliminate the new arrivals. Our once peaceful morning ritual was now anything but. It seemed like we were spending more time swinging at mosquitos than sipping coffee. A couple of mornings we wearily looked at each other and thought it best to stay inside, not feeling up to the task of battling mosquitos.
Needless to say, I was at the end of my rope. It was time to bring out the big guns.
The search for solutions
My initial thought was to get a Mosquito Magnet because I was somewhat familiar with it. They had one where I used to work in Texas and it seemed to work well in controlling the mosquitos by the basketball court. However, after doing a bit of research and realizing how much trouble they are to maintain, I became hesitant.
I scoured the web hoping to find another potentially cheaper and easier to use option. Unfortunately though, it seems that nothing else specifically targets mosquitos effectively and exclusively. Many of the other popular options like the DynaTrap use light which does more to attract moths and other non-biting insects than mosquitos.
Mosquito Magnet Patriot Plus
So having done my due diligence, I was back where I started and ordered the Mosquito Magnet Patriot Plus. When it came in, I was so eager to get it running that I conveniently ignored a few of the recommendations in the manual: (don’t do what I did!)
First, they recommend that you buy your own purged propane tank and get it filled versus using a tank exchange service. Holly and I had no idea how to do what they were asking so we just got a tank from Selectos. The condition of the tanks at these exchanges varies greatly so we ended up having to return two tanks before we got one that wouldn’t leak when we connected it.
Second, they recommend using a different attractant in Puerto Rico than what comes in the box. Discovering this, I ordered the proper Lurex3 attractant but didn’t want to wait around for it to get here so I used the Octenol attractant it came with.
Lastly, they recommend that you put the Mosquito Magnet between where people sit and where the mosquitos are. Well, we live in a condo and didn’t have permission to put it on the grounds so I had no choice but to fire it up right on our balcony!
The next morning, I checked the trap and sure enough, it had captured a dozen or so mosquitos overnight. There were also a few flying around it as well which I zapped with a mosquito racket. They say it takes around 6 weeks to break the breeding cycle. but we definitely noticed a difference within the first couple of weeks.
Even though it was already better as is, we were ready to take the next step. We wanted to move it down to the grounds below our balcony so it would draw the mosquitos away from us. We received approval from our HOA to move it down and discovered it made a big difference. Within a couple of weeks, it got to the point where there were no mosquitos on our balcony at all!
The dreaded blinking red light
I wish I could put a “happily ever after” ending here. Unfortunately, it turned out that this is where our story took a dark turn. After my morning surfing or paddleboarding session, I rinse my board off by the pool. While I’m down there, I had gotten into a routine of walking down to the Mosquito Magnet to ensure it was still running. About two weeks into the second propane tank, the machine turned off.
I tried all the troubleshooting recommendations in the manual to get it running to no avail. All I saw was the dreaded blinking red light on the switch which indicates a problem. I contacted technical support and they gave me something else to try which also didn’t work. I borrowed my neighbor’s propane tank from their gas grill but that wouldn’t get it started either.
The lady that emailed me from technical support told me to call in if her recommendations didn’t work. When I called in, the person on the other end told me matter-of-factly that I had voided the one year warranty by taking the machine out of the United States! She was not moved when I informed her that Puerto Rico is actually a part of the US!
The hunt for a “purged” propane tank
Realizing I was on my own, I did a deep dive online to try to figure out the problem. After following a bunch of dead ends, I started to look more into the recommendation from the manual that I had ignored earlier about buying my own “purged” propane tank. I googled “purged propane tank puerto rico” and the page for Mayagüez Sam’s Club page came up. (The exact same tank is available at Amazon as well.) Holly happened to be driving in the area at the time so I called and asked if she could stop by Sam’s to see if they had the tank. A little while later she texts me back “they have it!”.
The next step was to figure out how to get the tank filled. I went to Google Maps and searched for “propane” and it showed a Centro Gas Hiram conveniently located in downtown Aguada. When we pulled up we found an empty building with a handwritten note on the door saying they are now located behind El Chaporral restaurant off Highway 2. They were getting ready to close so we rushed straight over. Sure enough, they have a big building there and filled up our tank for $14.95.
Having finally addressed all of the recommendations from the manual (the Lurex3 had now arrived and was installed) I was excited to see if the machine would run using this new tank. Unfortunately, my hopes were quickly dashed when after multiple tries it still wouldn’t start. My thought was that maybe the “dirty” fuel from the other tanks had already gummed up the lines.
Running out of options I posted a question on Amazon which ended up not providing much help. Then I replied to the technical support email from earlier letting her know that I need more help since I was told that my unit was not under warranty because I live in Puerto Rico. You have no idea how happy I was to receive a reply that started like this:
Thank you for responding. I apologize that you were told that we are unable to service the trap. We are able to service traps for our customers in Puerto Rico…Lauren
Online Customer Experience Specialist
Lauren then proceeded to tell me how to send the unit back to them for service. Following her instructions, I mailed it out on Saturday and received it back the following Friday. They even reimbursed me for the cost of shipping it to them!
After coming back, the unit started up without a hitch and has been running fine ever since. Most importantly, we are no longer tormented by mosquitos during our morning coffee time. 🙂
Pro Tip: If you ever have trouble starting your Mosquito Magnet try doing it during the afternoon heat. For some reason, my unit has trouble in the morning but fires right up in the afternoon!
Mosquito Control in Puerto Rico
Anecdotally, it seems like the mosquitos have been getting worse on the island over the last couple of years. Therefore, I would love to see more of these units get deployed so we all can enjoy the wonderful tropical breezes here without being mobbed by hungry (thirsty?) mosquitos!