Sometimes discovering whether you have bed bugs (or still have bed bugs) is the hardest part of this ordeal.
Luckily, 2009 is the year of the bed bug monitor. While some are thinking high-tech, it is also important to know that low-tech monitors are being improved.
This month, the CDC 3000 is starting to be used by PCOs and a few of the luckier people with bed bugs. The Nightwatch is also set to ship soon, we’re told. The devices cost in the $500 – $700 range, and so they really are not aimed at the consumer market. These active bed bug monitors use kairomones, CO2 and heat to attract bed bugs into the monitors, and then trap them.
But passive bed bug monitors are also evolving. Traditionally, we have had the glue trap, which really is not very useful at catching bed bugs. Think about it: they’re usually rectangular, and they just sit there. They sit there covered with a thick coating of goopy glue, and people commonly report waiting patiently and nabbing no bed bugs. There’s no easy way to surround the legs of your bed in glue traps.
Enter Susan McKnight, who has designed the Climbup ® Insect Interceptor, a passive bed bug monitoring tool which can be used in homes under the legs of bed frames, chairs, tables, and other furniture.
The ClimbUp Interceptor is a tool for finding out whether you have bed bugs. It is not going to treat an infestation, but can help you determine if you have bed bugs, and when they are gone.
It looks simple, but seems quite clever: first, it has two wells: a center well and an outer pitfall. So you can actually tell from where the bed bug is caught whether it is coming onto the furniture or trying to exit from it. (The idea is they can’t hop over the wall in between. Neat, huh?)
This is a photo of bed bugs caught in the Climbup ®:
(Photo courtesy of Susan McKnight, All Rights Reserved).
Those bed bugs in the middle were trying to get off the bed / chair / etc. and the others were trying to get onto it.
You can imagine how some treatment plans could be improved if PCOs could see whether the bed bugs were coming onto the bed, or leaving from it.
Think also of the woman who reacts to bed bug bites, whereas her children and husband don’t. This monitor may allow a much better determination of who is actually being bitten.
The directions found in this PDF on the ClimbUp website note:
Climbup ® insect interceptor is ready to use with center well and pitfall ring prelubricated with talc to form slick surface to prevent bed bug escape. The talc will not kill bed bugs. With repeated wipeouts and prolonged use, relubrication with talc is advised. OPTIONAL: To avoid handling of live bugs, a dust (e.g. diatomaceous earth) or nonrepellent liquid (e.g. soapy water, mineral oil) may be added to in center well and outer pitfall ring.
(Note: pest pros on the forums recommend using the talc only — so the inside of the interceptor stays nice and slippery — and freshening it up with talc every three weeks or so.)
Some bedbuggers have long placed a bed bug-free mattress and frame on top of risers or inside of margarine tubs and filled these with diatomaceous earth or mineral oil in an attempt to keep bed bugs from getting into the bed. The moat of mineral oil in a cup around the bed legs can backfire if there are any bed bugs living in the bed, because they become trapped on the bed, and will keep biting you there.
The approach suggested on the Insect Interceptor site is not an entirely different idea, but in my opinion is theoretically a much better one: this product is designed to trap live bed bugs and to show which direction they are traveling in, both of which would be very helpful, moreso than simply trying to avoid bed bug bites.
A Pest Control Operator could, as the directions also suggest, “Count bugs by developmental stage from each capture area to determine efficacy of control treatment.” A resident could simply count bed bugs, and know if they needed a follow-up treatment, or not.
Dr. Mike Merchant of Texas A&M wrote on his Insects in the City blog about a presentation by Dr. Changlu Wang at November’s Entomological Society of America conference in Reno. Wang tested the efficacy of various spray-based and dust-based IPM programs for bed bugs (using chlorfenapyr, diatomaceous earth and Climbup™ monitors). Merchant noted that:
The traps caught more bed bugs than were observed by the inspectors in all apartments. Another interesting observation was that 94% of the trapped bed bugs were in the outer bowl, indicating that they were off the bed. This shows the importance of treating off-bed locations when controlling bed bugs. These devices might be especially useful for clients with low budgets and a high motivation to help with the elimination program. Of course the effectiveness of the bowls depends on eliminating contact of the bed and bedding with the floor and walls.
I understand that Changlu Wang’s research will be published soon (and we’ll let you know when it is). In the meantime, you can download a brief but interesting PowerPoint of his presentation at the ESA in Reno, 11/2009 by clicking here.
The PowerPoint stresses the usefulness of the product for low-level infestations and where residents do not respond to bed bug bites. We are told that only “4 of 10 residents noticed bed bug bites,” and that while visual inspection detected an “average of 6.7 bed bugs per apartment,” the Climbup — after being used for 7 days — found an “average of 8.8 bed bugs per apartment.”
For this reason, it would not be a bad idea for everyone to have these under their beds and chairs, sofas, etc. Wang’s finding that only 40% of the residents had bed bug bites reminds us that everyone needs an early warning system that they have a bed bug infestation. Those receiving bed bug treatment need to know when bed bugs are gone.
My only concern is that this product might have to be used creatively to work for some — for example, people who have platform beds with broad bases, or big clunky sofas — I am not sure how the product would work with items of furniture which don’t really have “legs.”
We look forward to reading Wang’s research results and to hearing from people who have used the product.
Update 4/23/2009: This month’s issue of Pest Control Technology has an article by Changlu Wang, Timothy J. Gibb, and Gary W. Bennett detailing the study of the Climbup ® Interceptor. You can see the contents of the April PCT issue with a link to the article here.
Climbup ® Interceptors are now available from US Bed Bugs (enter code BBFREE for free shipping) and other online retailers, as well as from Residex and Oldham Chemical. In New York City, you can get them from Standard Pest.
(Bedbugger has an affiliate relationship with US Bed Bugs, which means that if you purchase through our links, it helps support this website at no additional cost to you. We’re grateful to US Bed Bugs for offering our readers the best deals we know of on Protect-a-Bed AllerZip encasements and Climbup ® Interceptors, as well as free shipping with the BBFREE coupon code.) Please read our disclosure policy here.
“Detecting Bed Bugs Using Bed Bug Monitors,” written by Changlu Wang, outlines options for detecting bed bugs, including tips on using ClimbUp Insect Interceptors and instructions on how to implement the active dry ice monitor Wang’s office developed. You can download it for free from the Rutgers website.
You can view Jeff White’s helpful Bed Bug Central video about this product below.