Do It Yourself Bed Bug Trap

Bed bugs caught in DIY trap and lure

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Bedbugs are notoriously difficult to get rid of. One of the reasons is because the insects are hard to find until the infestation is high. Bed bugs hide and only emerge at night to feed.

New research has shown an effective method for locating bedbugs. The design is called pitfall trap, and study findings showed that it worked much better than other designs sold at stores.

This new study found that the pitfall trap, combined with a sugar and yeast mixture, worked best. Best of all, the pitfall trap can be made at home with a plastic dog bowl, surgical tape, and a sugar and yeast mixture.

"Call professional pest control if you discover a bedbug infestation."

Narinderpal Sing and colleagues from the Department of Entomology at Rutgers University conducted this study to find an effective method for detecting bedbugs.

Bedbugs are insects that feed on blood from humans. They hide in crevices during the day, and come out at night to feed, causing itchy welts on the humans they bite.

In recent years, bedbugs have become a bigger problem, partly due to the fact that they are hard to locate. By the time most people realize they have bedbugs, thousands have infested their home.

Having an inexpensive way to detect bedbugs could help people discover the problem early in the infestation, making removing the insects much easier.

The researchers prepared their pitfall design trap with a plastic dog bowl they purchased at Ikea. They turned the bowl upside down and covered the outside of the dog bowl with surgical tape, which they dyed black with leather dye. Before the experiment started, they noted in observations that bedbugs seemed to prefer the color black more than white.

First, the researchers tried their trap in a lab. The researchers created a plastic tray arena to hold the bedbugs for their study.

Inside the arena, the researchers placed two of their homemade pitfall traps and two store bought interceptor traps ($40-50). Since the interceptor trap has been shown to work well, they hoped their trap would work equally well.

The second set of trials occurred in two small apartments in New Jersey that were occupied by single tenants.

The researchers placed the homemade pitfall traps and store bought interceptor traps together in bedrooms, living rooms and bathrooms of the apartments. They placed a total of 13 pairs in the apartments.

In both the lab experiments and apartment tests, the researchers found that the homemade traps caught over twice as many bedbugs as the store bought interceptor traps.

The researchers then compared the results of the store bought interceptor traps with chemical lure added, using the same apartments as the last trial. The chemical lure was made of spearmint oil and coriander Egyptian oil. 

The researchers found that traps with chemical lure caught about twice as many bedbugs than the unbaited traps.

The researchers then compared traps with different levels of carbon dioxide being released. The researchers tested the trap with a carbon dioxide cylinder, and a second trap with a sugar and yeast mixture that gives off carbon dioxide. Seventy bedbugs were released in the center of the plastic arena and were collected and counted from the traps after four hours.

In both the lab and the apartments, the sugar and yeast mixture worked just as well as the carbon dioxide cylinders.

"This is the first report of an effective chemical lure, an affordable and effective bed bug trap, and a do-it-yourself formula for generating sufficient carbon dioxide to attract bed bugs," Changlu Wang, PhD, one of the authors of the study, told dailyRx News.

"Using sugar yeast and a modified dog bowl, one can detect very low level bug infestations and provide peace of mind," said Dr. Wang.

The researchers said that this do-it-yourself pitfall trap for bedbugs can be used easily and cheaply to test for bed bugs, locate their hiding spots and to see if treatment worked. They also indicated that the traps can be used with insecticides to attract and kill bugs.

To make the trap at home, you can mix ten tablespoons of sugar with two tablespoons of yeast in an old coffee cup. Add one and a half quarts of water, and place in the center of an upside down plastic dog bowl. The bugs will be attracted to the carbon dioxide produced by the sugar and yeast mixture, but are not able to climb the walls of the bowl to get back out.

The study was published in the August issue of Journal of Economic Entomology.

The research was funded by a grant from the US Department of Urban and Housing Development Healthy Homes Technical Studies grant program. The authors reported no conflict of interest.

Review Date: 
August 7, 2013
Last Updated:
August 13, 2013