Cheap and cheerful bed bug monitors!
Where else but Bedbugger.com do you see the phrase “cheap and cheerful” and “bed bug monitors” in the same sentence? Okay, we’re not Apartment Therapy, but we know a good thing when we see it.
Bed bug monitors are a very good thing. They come in two types: active and passive.
Passive bed bug monitors just sit there and wait for bed bugs to happen upon them. They come in different designs, which serve different purposes. The ones which have been utilized by a good number of bedbuggers as of this writing are ClimbUp Interceptors and David Cain’s Packtite Passive Monitors/BBAlert Passive Monitors. Read more about Packtite Passive Monitors/BBAlert Passive Monitors or ClimbUp Insect Interceptors and Blackout Bed Bug Detectors.
Active bed bug monitors actively attract bed bugs. Inexpensive active monitors use heat or CO2 to attract bed bugs. You can read about active bed bug monitors here.
Interceptor/Pitfall Bed Bug Monitors
Climbup™ Interceptors are pitfall/interceptor monitors, developed by Susan McKnight, which you place under your bed’s legs. (You may also be able to use them under a sofa or chair). The idea is that bugs will get stuck either crawling onto or off of the trap, and you will therefore not only be able to know if you have bed bugs, but which direction they’re coming from. (One forum user whose PCO employed these referred to them informally as “coasters.”)
This is the view from above of a Climbup™ Interceptor with bed bugs caught in it. (Your bed or sofa leg would go into the center.)
(Photo All Rights Reserved, Susan McKnight.)
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. This is the same study I discussed in the previous post about the product. To quote from the PCT Online article,
RESULTS. The inspections revealed that all 13 apartments were infested with bed bugs. The average bug count was 6.7 per apartment. Among the residents interviewed, only four of 10 said they noticed bed bug bites. After visual inspection and hand removal of bed bugs, we installed Climbup interceptors under furniture legs. After seven days, an average of 8.8 bed bugs per apartment was captured using the interceptors.
CONCLUSIONS.: Bed bug interceptors are more effective than visual inspections for determining the presence/absence of bed bugs and estimating bed bug numbers. In addition, they can effectively detect low levels of bed bug infestation. Because interceptors remove bed bugs, they also provide immediate relief to residents from bites and reduce the need for insecticide applications as they catch the bugs.
[Note the fact that 4 out of 10 residents reacted to bed bug bites.]
The regular ClimbUps (as we call them around here) are round and fit posts/feet 3.75” diameter or less. In February, 2011, ClimbUp Insect Interceptors were made available in a larger, rectangular XL size, which fits posts/feet up to 6.5” x 4.25”. These would be suitable for many beds with larger feet, and lots of chairs or sofas.
One issue is that the monitors have been known to crack when placed on carpeting. Some have suggested putting something flat under the Interceptor trap if you have carpeting.
Climbup™ Interceptors (regular and XL) are now available from US Bed Bugs (with free shipping if you enter the code BBFREE) and other online retailers, as well as from Residex and Oldham Chemical. In New York City, you can get them from Standard Pest in Astoria.
A newer player in the interceptor market is BlackOut Bed Bug Detectors, an interceptor developed by Jeff White of Bed Bug Central. I’ve had positive feedback on these from at least one expert on the forums. The manufacturer claims they’re sturdy, the dark color is more attractive to bed bugs, and they don’t require powder to be added.
You can purchase BlackOut at Amazon.com:
If you want this kind of interceptor/pitfall barrier, but the BlackOut Bed Bug Detectors, ClimbUp Interceptor, ClimbUp XL does not suit the shape or size of your bed’s feet, Bed Bug Barriers may be another option. It is new to the North American market and we do not have many reports back yet about its use. You can read about and purchase Bed Bug Barriers here.
Packtite Passive Monitors and BBAlert Passive Monitors
David Cain of bed-bugs.co.uk (who is well known to our Bedbugger Forum users) has developed a very different kind of passive bed bug monitor. Again, this is something which is affordable to everyone and could be potentially used in every bed as an ongoing monitoring tool. This was the prototype:
(Photo All Rights Reserved, David Cain, bed-bugs.co.uk.)
This monitor has begun to be marketed by BBAlert in Europe, and looks a bit different now.
Here’s a front view:
Here’s the passive’s side view:
As of 2013, the product began being distributed in North America as the Packtite Passive — again, with a snappy change to its appearance:
If you purchase a passive from US Bed Bugs, you will now receive the Packtite Passive version, but you can be assured it’s the same product people have been talking about for years in the forums under the name “BBAlert Passive” — the brand it’s still sold under in Europe.
The monitor is roughly the size of a packet of cigarettes. Made of moulded plastic it consists of a seven layer sandwich. On top is a label to record the monitoring routine. This is stuck to the top layer of the plastic monitor, within which is the filler consisting of corrugated pulp-based tunnels – ideal hideaways for bedbugs.
The monitors are designed to be anchored to a particular spot on various types of beds.
Here’s a video showing how the Packtite Passive/BBAlert Passive works, how to install it, and what you will see if bed bugs are present:
(Note: video was updated to latest version, 7/2013.)
Interceptor/pitfall and passive monitors have different functions. The Climbup™ Insect Interceptor and Blackout Bed Bug Detectors intercept bed bugs which are climbing onto or off of legs of the furniture placed in the disks. They should remain trapped if they cross the interceptor. Recent research suggests pitfall/interceptor monitors may be useful even if not only placed under furniture:
If conditions preclude installing monitors directly under bed and sofa legs, try placing them adjacent. Also consider placements along baseboards (especially behind sleeping and seating areas), and in corners of rooms. Installation of pitfall devices along hallways and room perimeters (Wang et al. 2010, Wang and Cooper 2012) also may reveal a continued presence of bed bugs in vacant dwellings where removal of furnishings has made visual inspection less reliable.
(From “Mapping Bed Bug Mobility” in the June 2013 issue of PCT, by Michael Potter et. al.)
In contrast, the BBAlert Passive Monitor/Packtite Passive Monitor is a harborage for bed bugs in the bed itself (attached to the bed base or onto a bed slat, depending on the type of bed). Bed bugs are not forced to remain in the monitor, however. Even if they’re “out” when you inspect it, you will see fecal traces if bed bugs are harboring there. (See the Packtite Passive video above for more on that.)
Be sure to use monitors as directed, which includes regular inspections of the monitor(s), cleaning pitfall monitors periodically, and in the case of ClimbUps, re-dusting the inside of the interceptor lightly with talc every three weeks or so to keep it slippery.
When active monitors were first developed, they cost in the $400-1000 price range (the Nightwatch and the CDC 3000). Most bedbuggers did not have access to these unless a pest pro was renting one to them, or otherwise providing it.
Since this post was originally written, more simply designed active bed bug monitors are available and these are more reasonably priced (you can get started with one of the available products for about $50, including some consumable refills, though the cost of running them varies). Coupling an active monitor with your passive monitor(s) is going to give more chance of detecting if bed bugs are present in the space.
“Detecting Bed Bugs Using Bed Bug Monitors” (PDF here), written by Dr. Changlu Wang, gives directions for building the active dry ice monitor Wang’s office developed (and also includes tips on using ClimbUp Interceptors). Note that dry ice requires very careful handling, and can be hard to find and keep. Forum user NewBlood did the research on where to buy dry ice in his area, and found it would cost him a whopping $140 a week for the dry ice alone (since he could only get it in 10 pound blocks and it would sublime in 24 hours and needed to be purchased daily.) Before you start building the dry ice monitor, make sure you research how to safely handle dry ice, and be sure you have access to a ready supply of free or cheap dry ice.
Many users who have looked into the dry ice monitor have chosen to use the Bed Bug Beacon CO2 Monitor instead, since it is effective and easier and cheaper to run unless you have easy, cheap or free, and continual access to dry ice. An active monitor may be especially helpful if you need to monitor a space with no humans present. More on the Bed Bug Beacon in this FAQ.
None of these monitors — not even an active one that costs $1000 — is going to trap all of your bed bugs or remove them from your home; they are just monitoring devices. But monitoring devices are very valuable where bed bugs are concerned, and both of these tools allow pest professionals and clients can work together to monitor whether bed bugs are present (or still present) in a space.
We are most excited to see these tools being developed. Bed bugs are a most elusive enemy, and we need all the help we can get in determining whether they are present.
(Disclosure: Bedbugger has an affiliate relationship with US Bed Bugs, which means that if you purchase through our affiliate links, it helps support this website at no additional cost to you. We’re grateful to US Bed Bugs for offering our readers great prices as well as discreet, fast, and free shipping with the BBFREE coupon code. Please read the Disclosure Policy for more information.)