There has been a lot of Internet buzz about the latest DIY bed bug trap. I say “latest” because we’ve been down this road before, with things like borax and double-sided tape – all with mixed results. The claim is that this new trap beats out all of the other DIY methods, and can be as effective as some commercial devices. But does it live up to the hype?
The trap in question, partially pictured here, involves mixing sugar, yeast, and water into a solution which is then propped up on an upside-down dog bowl. The idea is that the mixture emits carbon dioxide, which will lure bed bugs to climb up the side of the bowl and fall inside. Incidentally, similar mixtures can be used to make moonshine or ethanol fuel.
So does it attract bed bugs? Yes. Does it trap them? Sometimes – you have to make sure that the outside of the bowl is textured enough for them to grip, while the inside is slick enough to keep them in. Should you make one? We really don’t think so, and will explain why:
It won’t eliminate bed bugs.
For some reason, a common mentality is that this DIY bed bug trap is an affordable way to treat a bed bug problem. This doesn’t really make any sense, though – traps are used to detect an infestation, to monitor for bed bugs, and (in the case of the ClimbUp Interceptors) to stop them from reaching you. While this trap might help you determine if you have bed bugs, or if they’re active in a particular room, it’s not an all-in-one treatment solution by any stretch of the imagination.
Bed bugs breed very quickly, and even a small infestation grows in population very, very quickly. Even if you caught bed bugs with the trap every night, you’re not going to catch all of them. And if you want to get rid of the bugs, you will need to make sure that every last one is killed: it only takes one pregnant female to begin an infestation all over again, since she can lay up to 500 eggs in her short lifetime.
It’s not as effective in an occupied room.
The trap works by emitting carbon dioxide through a chemical reaction as the sugar is broken down. Since bed bugs are attracted to carbon dioxide, this can work fairly well to attract them. However, there is a larger and more effective carbon dioxide-based lure in your home already: you.
Not only do you breath out more than enough CO2 while you sleep to get bed bugs excited, but you also radiate tasty body heat, which is something almost no bed bug trap does (one exception being the popular Nightwatch monitor). While the DIY trap can be effective in a laboratory environment or some other unoccupied space, it might not work as well when sharing a room with a sleeping person, as some or all of the bed bugs might choose to go to the person instead.
It won’t stop bed bugs from biting you.
Arguably the most common reason people want to buy anything to address bed bugs is because they’re waking up to bed bug bites. That’s often the first warning sign that there are bed bugs in the area. Naturally, if you are suffering from bed bug bites, you probably want to stop the biting as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, this trap will likely do nothing to stop bed bugs from finding and feeding on you. It can’t fit under the legs of your bed, and it isn’t strong enough to guarantee that bed bugs will ignore you in favor of its lure (though, in this trap’s defense, no trap in existence is strong enough to guarantee that). If you want to stop bed bugs from reaching you in your bed, you’ll need to take steps to treat your bed, and then you’ll need to place ClimbUp Interceptors under each leg of your bed frame.
It only works for about 8 hours.
Even if the trap did work as well as claimed, and even if it could stop the biting, or even take steps to eliminate an infestation, we still wouldn’t recommend it. Why? Because once the trap is set up, it will only lure bed bugs for up to about 8 hours. The following night, you’ll either need to refill the trap or dispose of it.
Meanwhile, there are many active and passive monitors that work for much longer: the subtle Verifi detector supports dual lures, one that works for 24 hours, and another that can attract bugs for up to 90 days, and the Nightwatch can typically run for 3-5 days on a single bottle of CO2 (while emitting substantially more CO2). If you’re trying to trap and monitor bed bugs in a room that someone is sleeping in, ClimbUp Interceptors work indefinitely.
What to do instead:
I’d hate to be a downer for 800 words without offering a better solution. I just hate to see people try such an ineffective approach when there are far better options available. If you are considering a bed bug trap, you’re looking to do one of two things: determine if a room has bed bugs active in it, or trap bed bugs that are known to be active in a room. If you want to monitor bed bug activity in an unoccupied room, there are more effective active monitors available, such as the previously mentioned Verifi and Nightwatch active monitors. These traps were specifically designed for bed bugs and studied by entomologist’s to ensure they actually work.
Your best alternative in an occupied room would be a dual-purpose trap, the ClimbUp Interceptor. By placing these interceptors under the legs of your bed, you’ll be using yourself as a very powerful (and obviously proven) lure. A human lure is the preferred choice of bed bugs and is exponentially more enticing than any yeast and sugar trap. This is why we suggest such method for rooms that are occupied. Best of all, with the interceptors installed, you won’t have to worry about being bitten, as bed bugs will be collected in the perimeter pitfall of the trap before they can ever reach you. This way, not only are you monitoring bed bug activity, but you’re stopping the biting and stopping their breeding cycle.
A recurring theme in this blog is that there are no shortcuts when dealing with bed bugs. There is no single product that will cure the problem for good. Bed bug infestations are tough to deal with, involve a combination of products and treatment methods, and cost more to treat than some sugar and yeast in a dog bowl. It’s a bummer of a truth, but a truth nonetheless. No one ever said that bed bugs were pleasant.