Fact Sheet FS1117
As bed bugs become more and more common in our society, many people are increasingly concerned about bed bug infestations. Bed bugs are very difficult to find and can be quite costly to control if not detected early. Additionally, it is difficult to determine if any bed bugs are still present following control efforts. This publication describes several tools that help detect the presence of bed bugs.
There are three commercial bed bug monitors available for detecting bed bugs: Climbup™ Insect Interceptor (Susan McKnight Inc, Memphis, TN), CDC3000 (Cimex Science LLC, Portland, OR), and NightWatch (BioSensory Inc., Putnam, CT). The Interceptors are the most simple and inexpensive tool available for monitoring bed bugs (see references on last page). They are placed under the legs of beds and upholstered furniture to intercept bed bugs that are dispersing from the furniture or trying to reach the furniture for a blood meal. The device does not contain any attractants. Thus, it is considered as a passive monitor. This device takes advantage of two bed bug behavioral characteristics: active searching for a human host upon which to feed and tendency to climb vertical coarse surfaces. The furniture must be pulled away from walls and any other bridges between the furniture and the floors must be eliminated. Interceptors are not intended for use in vacant rooms and cannot be used when furniture legs are absent or the furniture legs do not fit into the interceptor. Interceptors need to be placed for at least a week or longer to detect bed bugs at very low numbers. Detailed instructions can be found from the manufacturer's web site. Studies have shown that Interceptors are often much more effective than visual inspections.
CDC3000 and NightWatch use carbon dioxide (CO2), heat, and a chemical lure to attract and trap bed bugs and are considered active monitors. They can be placed anywhere near the infested furniture. Each device requires a CO2 cylinder as CO2 source. The CO2 cylinder for CDC3000 lasts for about 10 hours. A new CO2 cylinder is needed for each night of operation and users need to purchase cylinders from the manufacturer. NightWatch employs much larger, refillable CO2 cylinders, which may last up to five nights depending on the cylinder size. Users can purchase CO2 cylinders and refill them from local retail stores. While there are clearly differences between these two devices, when operated according to the manufacturer's directions, both devices are equally effective. A recent study indicates that deployment of CDC3000 or NightWatch was at least as effective as a thorough visual inspection, but not as effective as seven day deployment of Climbup Insect Interceptors.
Recently, researchers from Rutgers University designed a dry ice trap for monitoring bed bugs which only employs dry ice (source of CO2) to attract bed bugs. Tests in apartments indicate a dry ice trap is equally, or more effective than the abovementioned bed bug monitors. There are some inherent safety risks that are associated with dry ice, and it is always advisable to contract the services of a pest management professional that uses devices that have been designed and tested to monitor and detect bed bugs. However, the dry ice trap, when designed and used correctly, offers an effective method for individuals that cannot afford professional pest management services. The following are step-by-step instructions on how to make and use dry ice traps to monitor bed bugs.
Dry ice is VERY COLD (-109.3°F) and can freeze on contact causing skin injury!
Dry ice releases Carbon Dioxide, which could cause asphyxia!
Due to safety concerns associated with dry ice, it is recommended that commercial pest management providers use commercially manufactured bed bug detection devices to monitor bed bugs.
People should not rely on bed bug monitors for controlling bed bugs. Monitors are only intended to detect bed bugs and monitor control efforts. Once bed bugs are found, proper treatments should be taken to eliminate the infestation promptly.
The author appreciates the critical review of an earlier draft by Mr. Richard Cooper (Cooper Pest Solutions, Lawrenceville, NJ) and Dr. Stephen Kells (Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota).
Mention or display of a trademark, proprietary product, or firm in text or figures does not constitute an endorsement by Rutgers Cooperative Extension and does not imply approval to the exclusion of other suitable products or firms.
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