For anyone that suspects they have bed bugs at home, using bed bug traps can be a relatively inexpensive way to confirm or deny those suspicions.
There are several types of bed bug traps that can be purchased in stores or online. In this article, we’ll talk about bed bug traps, do they really work, and introduce the 4 most common types of traps used to detect and monitor bed bugs at home.
You can also make your own at home, although we don’t recommend doing this, since homemade traps aren’t as reliable and may instead give your bed bug infestation time to spread.
Do Bed Bug Traps Really Work?
First, you might be wondering if bed bug traps are effective or not. The answer depends on what you’re using them for.
Bed bug traps are effective at doing what they’re designed for — bed bugs climb into the trap and can’t get out. By checking the traps regularly, you can tell:
- If you have bed bugs or not
- Roughly how severe the infestation is
Bed bug traps are diagnostic tools used to pick up on bed bug infestations early on. They’re designed to catch individual specimens of bed bugs so that you know when to call the exterminator. Traps alone will NOT solve a bed bug infestation.
You should use bed bug traps if:
- You suspect bed bugs (perhaps due to getting bites at night), even though you haven’t seen a live one.
- You recently had a bed bug inspection that turned up negative, but you still suspect that they’re there.
- Your home was treated for bed bugs recently and you want to confirm that they’re gone for good.
- You recently traveled or stayed at a hotel that might have had bed bugs.
In these cases, bed bug traps do work — in fact, they’re one of the most accurate methods of detecting bed bugs. At MMPC, we often use bed bug traps in conjunction with canine bed bug inspection services to guarantee the highest level of accuracy when it comes to finding and getting rid of these pests.
The biggest downside of using bed bug traps is that they don’t work overnight, especially in light or early-stage infestations. It may take up to a week or longer for a bed bug to be captured.
Active vs. Passive Bed Bug Traps
There are several types of bed bug traps, and all of them fall in one of two categories: active or passive.
Active traps require the use of an attractant designed to lure bed bugs into the trap. Examples of attractants (also referred to as “lures” or “bait”) include pheromones, carbon dioxide, or heat. These attractants mimic what bed bugs naturally use as signals to find human hosts to feed on.
Passive traps don’t use attractants. They’re simply placed in spots where bed bugs normally travel through (such as the legs of a bed) and capture them as they wander in. These types of traps are relatively inexpensive and easier to use than active traps.
4 Common Types of Bed Bug Traps
1. Bed Bug Interceptors
Interceptors are plastic dish-like devices used to detect bed bug infestations.
These traps are placed underneath each leg of your bed (or other kinds of upholstered furniture), forming a barrier between the floor and your bed.
When bed bugs try to climb up or down to feed, they’re forced to climb through the interceptor — where they become trapped.
The dish feature two concentric walls with a pitfall in between to catch bed bugs.
The outside-facing side of each wall has a rough texture that’s easy for bed bugs to latch onto and climb up, while the inside-facing side is smooth and slippery. Once bed bugs reach the top, they fall into the pitfall (also called the “capture well”) and are unable to climb back out.
Interceptors are considered passive bed bug traps because they don’t use any sort of attractant or lure. Studies show that using interceptors for 7 to 14 days can catch bed bugs with a 93% detection rate.
Find bed bug interceptors on Amazon: ClimbUp Insect Interceptor Bed Bug Trap, 4ct
2. Bed Bug Glue Traps
Using glue traps is another way to capture bed bugs and detect a possible infestation in your home.
Glue traps are disposable and ready-to-use contraptions containing sticky glue that bed bugs (and other insects) can’t escape from. They’re inexpensive and relatively small in size, resembling a standard pencil box when folded.
You typically place them near the bed or suspected bed bug harborage areas, where bed bugs are likely to crawl onto them. Recommended places to lay glue traps include around the legs of your bed frame, under furniture, and next to cracks or crevices you think bed bugs might be hiding in.
The adhesive used in glue traps should be checked periodically to make sure it’s still sticky. Glue traps can dry out over time, so check the product label to see when or if it needs to be replaced.
Most glue traps are passive — there aren’t any lures attracting bedbugs to them — there are some active versions that mix pheromones into the glue to increase the trap’s catch rate.
Overall, while glue traps aren’t as effective as interceptors, they can sometimes be a good option if your furniture isn’t suitable for using interceptors.
Find bed bug glue traps on Amazon: Harris Bed Bug Traps for Early Detection & Monitoring, 4 Pack
3. Bed Bug CO2 Traps
Bed bugs are attracted by the carbon dioxide that we breathe out while we sleep.
CO2 traps take advantage of this behavior to lure bed bugs out of hiding and into either a pitfall or sticky glue, effectively capturing them.
Studies show that bed bug traps baited with carbon dioxide catch a significantly higher number of bed bugs than the same traps without carbon dioxide.
Some CO2 traps combine carbon dioxide with other lures, such as heat or pheromones to mimic a sleeping human. For example, the Nightwatch Bed Bug Monitor utilizes carbon dioxide, heat, and a kairomone-scented lure to draw bed bugs up a ramp and into a pitfall-style trap.
4. Bed Bug Pheromone Traps
Like CO2 traps, pheromone traps are also designed to draw in bed bugs to help you detect an early infestation.
This type of trap uses chemicals that mimic bed bug pheromones or kairomones. Kairomones attract bed bugs looking for a meal, and pheromones encourage bed bugs to aggregate.
An example of a a pheromone trap is the Volcano Bed Bug Detector. This trap is designed to make bed bugs climb into a small plastic container with a see-through bottom.
You can place it in small areas where you suspect bed bug activity — usually under or around the bed and nearby furniture.
Find bed bug glue traps on Amazon: SenSci ActivVolcano Bed Bug Monitor and Lure
MMPC is an eco-friendly pest control company in New York City with over 25 years of experience helping people find and exterminate bed bugs. We also offer a free pest identification service in case you need help confirming if you’ve caught a bed bug.