Do you suspect you have a bed bug infestation at home? Consider using bed bug traps! They’re a great, inexpensive method to diagnose an infestation in your home so that you can move on to getting rid of these blood-sucking pests!
There are many different types of bed bug traps that are available on the market and it can be tricky trying to figure out which one to use and how they work.
That’s why, we at Planet Natural have created this complete guide to bed bug traps that explains exactly what bed bug traps are, when you should consider using them, the 4 most common types of traps you can use, and the 3 best bed bug traps you can buy in 2023!
What are Bed Bug Traps?
Bed bug traps are diagnostic tools that are specifically designed to trap and detect bed bugs infestations early on.
They are often used as a preventative measure or as a way to monitor and control bed bug infestations and designed to catch a bed bug so that you can call a professional exterminator.
Bed bug traps are designed to mimic the conditions that bed bugs are attracted to, such as warmth and the presence of carbon dioxide.
Their primary purpose is to prevent bed bugs from reaching their intended target, which is usually a bed or other piece of furniture. This is accomplished by either capturing the bed bugs in the trap or by preventing them from climbing onto the surface they are targeting. Traps can be placed under the legs of beds and furniture or in areas where bed bugs are suspected to be present.
It’s important to note that they are used to monitor and diagnose an infestation, and are not going to resolve a bed bug problem on their own.
Do Bed Bug Traps Really Work?
Bed bug traps can be effective, but it all depends on what you’re using them for. As the name suggests, they ‘trap’ the bed bugs so that they can’t climb out of it and can be used to check if you have bed bugs or not, and exactly how severe the infestation you have is.
When Should You Consider Using Bed Bug Traps?
It’s a good idea to use bed bug traps in the following situations:
- To detect the presence of bed bugs: If you’ve noticed any of the early signs of bed bugs and suspect you have an infestation, using bed bug traps can help confirm their presence even if you haven’t seen a live one yet.
- To confirm your home is free of bed bugs after an infestation: If you’ve recently gotten rid of bed bugs and had your home treated for them, it’s a good idea to use bed bug traps to confirm that they’re gone for good.
- You’ve recently stayed at or visited somewhere infested with bed bugs: If you’ve recently traveled and stayed at a hotel that had bed bugs, then you should use these traps to check if they’ve accidentally infested your home so that you can quickly work on getting rid of bed bugs.
- To prevent bed bugs from spreading: If you are traveling or staying in a hotel, using bed bug traps can help prevent bed bugs from spreading to your luggage or other belongings.
- If your recent bed bug inspection turned up negative: If you suspect you have bed bugs in your house even after an inspection turned up negative, then using bed bug traps can help confirm your suspicion.
In such situations, bed bug traps work well and are one of the most accurate ways of detecting bed bugs.
What are the Limitations of Using Bed Bug Traps?
Despite their usefulness in detecting and diagnosing bed bug infestations, there are some limitations to using bed bug traps.
For instance, they only work if the bed bugs are actively moving around. So, if the area is too cold or dry, then the bed bugs may not be active enough for them to get trapped in the trap.
Perhaps the biggest downside is that they don’t work right away especially if you have a light infestation or one that’s in its early stages. It may take several days or even a week for a bed bug to be successfully captured in a trap.
Also, most bed bug traps are ineffective against bugs that come from your mattress. They work on those who scurry around on the floor. The glue or adhesive may also have to be replaced regularly for them to be effective.
If you have a severe infestation, bed bug traps will not stop it from spreading and you’ll have to use other methods to get rid of them.
Plus, sometimes even if a trap does manage to catch a few bed bugs, it’s not enough to confirm an infestation. In such cases, you need to call a professional pest control service that can perform a more thorough inspection and get rid of any bed bug infestations for good.
Active vs. Passive Bed Bug Traps
There are many different types of bed bug traps, but they all fall into one of two groups: active or passive.
Active Bed Bug Traps
To effectively catch bed bugs, active traps must be used in conjunction with an attractant to lure the bugs into the trap. Attractants, which are also called ‘lures’ or ‘bait,’ can be things like pheromones, carbon dioxide, or heat.
These attractants replicate the signals that bed bugs naturally use to discover human hosts to feast on.
Passive Bed Bug Traps
Passive traps don’t use attractants in trap bed bugs. They are simply positioned in areas where bed bugs typically travel through such as the legs of your bed and capture them as they move around.
These kinds of traps don’t cost as much and are easier to set up and use than active traps.
4 Common Types of Bed Bug Traps
1. Bed Bug Interceptors
Interceptors are plastic devices that resemble dishes and are used to detect bed bug infestations. These traps are set beneath each leg of your bed or other upholstered furniture, creating a barrier between the floor and your bed.
Bed bugs are forced to climb through the interceptor as they attempt to climb up or down to feed, where they become caught.The dish has two concentric walls with a trap to capture bed bugs in between.
The exterior side of each wall has a rough texture that makes it simple for bed bugs to latch onto and climb, whereas the interior side is smooth and slippery. When bed bugs reach the top, they are unable to climb back out and instead fall into the pitfall, also known as the ‘catch well.’
Since they don’t use an attractant or lure, interceptors are considered passive bed bug traps. A research published in the Journal of Economic Entomology in 2014 found that utilizing interceptors for 7-14 days can catch bed bugs with a 93% detection rate.
2. Bed Bug Glue Traps
Another method for catching bed bugs and identifying a potential infestation in your house is to use glue traps.
Bed bug glue traps are disposable, ready-to-use tools that contain sticky glue that bed bugs cannot get out of. They’re affordable and relatively compact, resembling a regular pencil box when folded.
These are often placed near beds or suspected bed bug harborage places, where bed bugs are likely to crawl onto them. Glue traps should be placed around the legs of your bed frame, underneath furniture, and next to cracks or crevices where you suspect bed bugs may be hiding.
Glue traps require regular inspections to ensure the adhesive is still effective. Since glue traps might get dry over time, read the product label to see whether or not they need to be replaced and at what point in time.
Most glue traps are passive, which means they don’t have anything to attract bedbugs. However, there are some active glue traps that add pheromones to the glue to increase the trap’s catch rate. Glue traps aren’t as efficient as interceptors, but they can be useful if you can’t install interceptors on your furniture.
3. CO2 Traps
Bed bugs are drawn to the carbon dioxide we exhale while sleeping. CO2 traps use this tendency to attract bed bugs out of hiding and into a pitfall or sticky glue, effectively catching them.
To create the illusion of a sleeping human, some CO2 traps use a combination of carbon dioxide and other lures like heat or pheromones. Studies published by the Entomological Society of America have shown that carbon dioxide-baited bed bug traps catch a lot more bed bugs than the same traps without carbon dioxide.
4. Bed Bug Pheromone Traps
Pheromone traps, like CO2 traps, are designed to attract bed bugs and help in the detection of an early infestation. This form of trap uses chemicals that mimic pheromones or kairomones produced by bed bugs. Kairomones attract hungry bed bugs, while pheromones urge bed bugs to congregate.
You can put it in places where you think there might be bed insect activity such as under or around the bed and nearby furniture.
Tips for Using Bed Bug Traps
When looking for bed bugs, it is important to remember a few key tips that will help you in resolving your pest problem.
- Place an interception trap on each of the four bedposts: The small traps work because bed bugs come out at night and head toward their food source, which is humans. The bugs must crawl up the bedposts to do so, making this a great position for trapping them.
- Pesticides shouldn’t be added to bed bug traps: Most pesticides shouldn’t be used in bedrooms because they put out chemicals that are bad for people’s health.
- Avoid using bait traps if you have pets: Bait will attract not just bed bugs, but also curious pets attracted to the food odors produced by these traps.
- Traps are not the solution to an infestation: The majority of bed bug traps are only early detection methods. Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to eradicate from a home.
- If the trap catches some bed bugs, you need to work fast: Bed bugs can spread and infest your home fast. If you have caught a bed bug in one of the traps, then it’s time to start acting fast to get rid of them.
Check out our 7 step guide to getting rid of bed bugs, and it also includes when it’s time to call in a professional pest control company to take care of it instead.
Top 3 Best Bed Bug Traps in 2023
This cup-style bed bug trap from EcoPest is an efficient way to keep bed bugs away from your bed thanks to its sturdy construction and well-thought-out design. The cup has a 4-inch interior diameter, making it suitable for most bedposts.
The bed bugs are trapped in a deep moat surrounding the inside cup by a surface that is too slippery for them to climb up. This allows them to enter but prevents them from climbing out.
EcoPest uses sturdy plastic that won’t break or distort under the weight of even larger beds and mattresses. Each pack has eight traps, which is enough to keep two beds safe. The traps come in either white or black.
This 12-pack of traps from Trapper Max is different from other glue-based bed bug traps because it uses bait to attract the bugs. Each trap contains the scent of peanut butter, which attracts more bed bugs. When the glue trap is full of bugs, simply discard it.
You can keep dust and dirt from collecting on these traps by using them flat or folding them into a tunnel. Although the scent of peanut butter attracts bed bugs, it is also likely to attract other pests, such as mice and other insects.
As a result, these traps are not recommended for people with pets that are naturally curious and may be attracted to the odor.
Bed bugs are drawn to the bodies of sleeping humans due to the body heat they generate. This ASPECTEK Trapest dome-style trap attracts both bed bugs and fleas thanks to an electrically driven light bulb that mimics body heat. The bed bugs get trapped on the adhesive floor of the dome as they enter.
The trap is pesticide-free and has no smell, making it suitable for use in bedrooms. Plus, it can be plugged into any regular electrical outlet.
Once the trap is filled, the sticky insert can be easily removed and replaced. Plus, the lightbulb can be replaced making this a great investment to keep your home free of bed bugs by monitoring future infestations.
How to Make Your Own DIY Bed Bug Trap at Home
Even though they might not work as well as professional bed bug traps, DIY traps can be a quick and cheap way to detect a bed bug problem. As we mentioned above, carbon dioxide is one of the things that naturally draws bed bugs and they use it to find their human hosts.
When sugar and yeast are mixed, a little amount of carbon dioxide is released, which can be used to attract bed bugs toward an interceptor trap. This can be used to make your own DIY bed bug trap by using sugar, yeast, talcum powder, glue, and tape.
Step 1: Grab a plate, cup or bowl which has a flat bottom and place it in an area where bed bugs can crawl up such as near the legs of your bed.
Step 2: Use talcum powder or adhesives to line the rim of the plate, bowl or cup so that the bed bugs can’t escape it once they cross the rim.
Step 3: In a large bucket, combine 8 ounces of yeast, 2 pounds of sugar, and a gallon of warm water.
Step 4: Mix it all well and let it set for a few minutes. For the next 6 to 8 hours, the bucket will give off a modest amount of CO2, which will attract bed bugs.
Step 5: Set the bucket on top of one or more traps that will catch the bugs before they can get all the way into the bucket.
This can be a cheap and effective way of detecting bed bugs. But keep in mind that store-bought bed bug traps that we’ve listed above are far more effective and can help detect an infestation with higher accuracy.
Other Bed Bug Guides from Planet Natural:
Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa’s work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.