Build it and they will come — the mosquitoes, no-see-ums and other biting summertime nasties, that is. That's what Bob Carver Sr., lifelong tinkerer and part-time Collegiate School electrician, discovered when he assembled his first mosquito trap nearly by accident. After building an outdoor night light, Carver noticed that it attracted only certain kinds of insects. He then soldered four pieces of concave plastic together, each with a small hole at the center, added a base and then screwed one of his insect-attracting light bulbs into the trap's crown. The prototype Bug D'Light was rough-looking, but it worked and worked well. Carver's a bright man, but he partly credits divine inspiration. "The good Lord built this trap," he's fond of saying.
With white hair reminiscent of Einstein, Carver looks like an absent-minded but ingenious inventor. Although he frequently asks his wife, Betsy, for forgotten names or dates, he can easily talk about carburetors, insect flight patterns or the world's first industrial sawdust burner, which he built in the '70s. About Bug D'Light's technical details, though, Carver cites trade secrets and is circumspect, saying only that the modified light bulb is what makes the trap effective. Attracted by the bulb, mosquitoes fly into one of the holes, strike the light bulb and then fall into the water-filled tray at the bottom. "You can stand a few feet back and watch the mosquitoes land like planes at Washington airport," Carver says.
After several years of testing and refining his product, Carver was awarded a patent for the Bug D'Light mosquito trap in 2003. In 2004, he entered into a partnership with the Richmond-based retailer Shades of Light, which sells the trap both online and in its store for $225.