Bed Bug Monitors

Bed bugs can be a nuisance to people who live or work in an infested dwelling. Early detection and intervention are key to nipping the pests in the bud before they become established. Various monitors have been developed to detect bed bug activity. Some require a significant investment, but others are relatively inexpensive and provide results within days or weeks of deployment.

Passive pitfall-style traps, such as the ClimbupTM Insect Interceptor (Susan McKnight Inc, Memphis, TN), are one of the most cost-effective tools for detecting bed bug activity. These traps are placed under the legs of beds and other upholstered furniture to intercept the pests as they disperse from the furniture or attempt to climb up the legs to seek a blood meal. The outer surface of the interceptor is covered with fabric tape, making it difficult for bed bugs to latch onto and climb up. When the insects try to climb down, they fall into a pitfall, where they are trapped.

Among the active bed bug monitors, those that use aggregation semio-chemical lures are generally the most effective for detecting bed bug activity. These lures mimic the scent of human skin, a behavior that is attractive to bed bugs. Several different attractants have been tested, including a combination of a sugar-based bait and carbon dioxide. When used as part of a monitoring program with other monitors, such as dry ice traps and NightWatch, these lures were shown to be more effective than visual inspections for detecting low levels of infestation in occupied apartments (Wang et al. 2009a, 2011).

Other active monitors include pheromone traps, which release a pheromone that attracts and lures bed bugs to the device. These are particularly useful in assessing the efficacy of bed bug control programs in which a chemical treatment has been applied. The pheromone traps should be placed under the mattress, in corners of the room, and along baseboards near beds. Unlike traps that are set and left, pheromone traps are activated immediately when exposed to a source of heat.

Most active monitors need electricity for operation, which limits their use to areas where power outlets are readily available. Additionally, the many types of active monitors can be expensive to operate. In some cases, the monitors will require regular cleaning, which may be an impediment to their use in apartment buildings or other settings where access is limited.

Some passive monitors (such as the Climbup Insect Interceptor and dry ice trap) are designed to be deployed for a few days to a week or more to detect bed bug activity, whereas other active monitors, such as NightWatch, can be deployed for a single night. Regardless of the type of monitor, it is recommended that all monitors be checked daily when beds are made and anytime sheets are changed. If a monitor contains bed bugs, the trap should be discarded and a pest control company should be notified of the suspected infestation.