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Combine the Alcatrazean satisfaction of an electric bug zapper and the participatory thrill of a manual fly flap and the result is an electric fly swatter. An electric fly swatter looks like a tennis racket, but has an electrified wire grid and a battery pack hidden in the handle. The user presses a switch to activate the grid and only has to make a general swipe in the bug's direction for a confirmed kill.
Manual fly swatters are effective against a single combatant, but they are up against years of insect instinct. House flies and mosquitoes have very sensitive hairs which can detect the slightest change in air pressure. This is why fly swatters in general have an open-air design; flies and mosquitoes don't detect the swatter until it's too late to escape its webbing. An electric fly swatter uses an open grid to achieve the same goal.
On the other end of the fly-killing spectrum, stationary electric bug zappers use instinct against the insects. Many flying insects orient themselves by natural light cues. The special lightbulb in a bug zapper is especially attractive to insects like moths, mosquitoes and house flies. The insect will draw closer to the light, only to become helplessly mired in an electric grid. When the circuit is complete, the insect receives a fatal shock.
An electric fly swatter takes the effective grid element of a bug zapper and combines it with the large surface area and flexibility of a traditional fly swatter. The electric fly swatter receives power from two or three AA-size batteries. Whenever a flying pest is discovered, the owner of the electric fly swatter swipes the air around the insect. The insect should make contact with the grid and die instantly from the electrical shock. Electric fly swatters are very convenient because their owners don't have to be especially stealthy or accurate.
Companies who market electric fly swatters often promote it as more of a novelty item than a legitimate insect killer, but don't let the tongue-in-cheek advertising fool you. An electric fly swatter can be an excellent gift for the elderly or others with limited mobility. A single house fly or mosquito can be quite a nuisance, as well as a health hazard. Insecticides may be too dangerous for pets and children, and an electric bug zapper is not recommended for indoor use. By using an electric fly swatter, the chances of eliminating the pest in one fell swoop increase exponentially. Care must be taken, however, to turn off the grid between uses. The grid can generate substantial heat, which can cause damage to furniture and exposed skin.