As bed bugs spread across the United States like wild fire, we all need to be wary of infestations. These pesky insects are pretty challenging to find and are expensive to control unless you detect them early. It is also difficult to ascertain whether any of them are still present after control and extermination efforts.

The best way of avoiding a full-blown bed bug infestation is regular monitoring of bed bugs. This post provides comprehensive information on how to monitor bed bugs.

Why do you need to use bed bug monitors?

Detecting bed bugs at the early stage of an infestation is essential to prevent them from spreading. You have three ways to detect bedbugs:

  • Perform a visual inspection
  • Wait to be bitten
  • Use bedbugs monitors

By waiting to be bitten, you might detect the infestation too late. Some people are not sensitive to bedbugs bites and will have to get several bites before noticing. Visual inspections are useful to find where bedbugs are hiding. If you want to detect an infestation early over a long period, performing a visual inspection weekly would be time-consuming. Bedbugs monitors are the best way to detect infestations. You install them and wait for bedbugs to be trapped.

Although bed bug monitors deliver excellent results, you should use them as part of the overall treatment process. Monitors do not kill bed bugs, they only trap them. Here are some reasons you should invest in a bed bug monitor;

  • They help minimize the number of bites you would get from bed bugs crawling onto your resting space.
  • Bed bug monitors require little maintenance
  • They can help to uncover low-level infestations that are difficult to find using visual inspection
  • They help minimize expenditure on insecticides because they trap bugs and interfere with their life cycle
  • Bed bug monitors are more effective than visual inspection

Different types of monitors

You have two kind of monitors, the passive and active monitors.

The passive monitors are also called interceptor traps. They are placed on the way of bedbugs and trap them. The most common is the bed leg interceptor where a trap is placed below each of the bed legs. The bedbugs who are trying to find a host to feed will try to climb on the leg but will be trapped by the interceptors. This doesn’t work well for non occupied bedrooms because you are the attractant.

The second kind is active monitors. Those traps attracts bedbugs with some kind of lure; CO2, heat or a chemical lure (pheromones). Tests in laboratory showed that traps with CO2 was the most effective in unoccupied apartments. The tests showed that the numbers of bedbugs trapped reduced drastically overtime when using this kind of traps. The problem with that kind of traps is that they need to be refilled in order to release CO2.

The last thing that differentiate traps is the method to catch the bedbugs. The most common are pitfall and glue. Pitfall trap the insect by gravity. The insects fall inside and are unable to escape. The glue traps are coated with sticky adhesive to keep the bedbugs held up in place as they cross the trap.

Do-it-yourself bed bugs monitors

Do-It-Yourself (DIY) bed bug monitoring generally involves the use of simple, effective devices that you construct by yourself. If you don’t have sufficient resources for a commercially manufactured bed bug trap, homemade traps can come in handy. There are two common DIY bed bug monitoring devices namely;

Dry ice bed bug trap

The dry ice bed bug trap is a simple, yet effective homemade device. To construct it, you need a pet food bowl, masking tape, an insulated container, and dry ice. It is important to note that failure to use the right pet food bowl will impair the effectiveness of the trap. A 32 oz capacity double bowl cat feeder is an ideal option.

Finding dry ice is also not an easy task primarily because most supermarkets do not stock them. Most Ice cream makers use them. You can try to persuade any nearby confectioner to sell you some. Visit to find local dry ice vendors if there are no confectioners nearby. A pound of dry ice usually sells for approximately 1.2 USD.

DIY Bed Bug Dry Ice Trap

Caution When Handling Dry Ice

There are some potential hazards linked to dry ice. Some of the hazards include asphyxiation because dry ice releases carbon dioxide. Dry ice is very cold, around -109.3°F (-78.33°C). This temperature can cause burn when dry ice comes in contact with your skin.

  • Always wear hand protection
  • Store the dry ice out of reach of Children
  • Transport the dry ice in well-ventilated conditions
  • Do not store dry ice in a confined space such as a closet or a walk-in freezer
  • Always install the trap in a well-ventilated space

Sugar-yeast bed bug trap

The sugar and yeast DIY bed bug trap is based on the concept of carbon dioxide bed bug attractants. Bed bugs are generally attracted to sugar and carbon dioxide. This is because they emit a smell similar to the one that draws them to humans. To construct this homemade device, you need several components including;

  • A coffee cup,
  • 10 tablespoons of sugar,
  • 2 tablespoons of yeast,
  • Water
  • A dog bowl

Once you have collected all the components, add the yeast and sugar to the old coffee cup. Fill the cup with warm water and pour the mixture into the dog bowl. The mixture will emit carbon dioxide which attracts bed bugs. You can inspect the bowl regularly over a reasonable number of days to see if there are any bed bugs.

Commercial bed bug monitors

The challenges associated with controlling bed bugs are multifold, but bed bug monitoring is one of the greatest difficulties. These pesky critters often hide in inaccessible areas and need specialized tools to draw them out of their hiding spots. Since 2008, several commercially manufactured bed bug monitoring tools have been introduced.

You can buy these commercially manufactured bed bug monitoring tools in online stores such as Amazon or retail stores near you. Here are different types of commercial monitoring tools, how they work, and their effectiveness;

Active bed bug monitors

Active bed bug monitors use attractants to draw bed bugs out of their hiding spots. These attractants imitate the presence of a host to attract bed bugs into the limelight. The common attractants that you can expect to find in an active bed bug monitoring device include;

  • Carbon dioxide
  • Host odors including pheromones and kairomones
  • Heat

You can notice that is why it’s so easy for bedbugs to find us. We generate Carbon dioxide by breathing, we release pheromones, and our body generates heat.

A general overview of an active bed bug monitor (Nightwatch device)

Example of an active bed bug monitoring device available in the market

The Verifi bed bug detector is currently the most popular active bed bug monitoring device available in the market. This product mainly uses a CO2 attractant but features two additional chemical attractants namely, pheromones and kairomones. It can function effectively for up to 90 days after which you need to replace it.

Passive bed bug monitors

Passive bed bug monitors also known as interception devices, are simple, effective monitoring tools. Once you install them, they intercept and capture bed bugs as they move towards sleeping or resting areas. These monitors trap bed bugs using two distinct actions namely;

  • Glue
  • Pitfall (gravity) design

Passive bed bug monitors generally work by allowing bed bugs to climb the rough exterior of the device. They then fall into the device that features a smooth slippery surface that does not allow them to climb out. It is important to note that these types of devices do not have attractants. Instead, you act as an attractant by placing them under the legs of your bed.

When using passive bed bug monitoring devices, you must keep your bed or furniture away from the wall. Linens, comforters, dust ruffles and any other items on the bed must also not touch the floor. Such precautions will get rid of any alternative paths for the bed bugs, forcing them into the interceptors.

Example of a passive bed bug monitor available in the market

BB Alert Passive Bed Bug Monitor is a device that offers an effective, maintenance-free way of monitoring bed bugs. This product comes with several incredible features including;

  • Pesticide-free monitor
  • 100% safe for people and pets
  • Easy to set up

Factors to consider when choosing bed bug monitoring devices

There are several options when it comes to bed bug monitoring devices. You ought to consider certain factors when choosing the most appropriate option for you. Here are the main factors you must consider include;

Cost of the monitor

All bed bug monitoring devices can work at short range and capture bed bugs randomly. One active bed bug monitor costs about $50 to $600 whereas passive monitors cost around $10 to $60 each. For residential spaces, you can either choose an active monitor or a passive monitor depending on your budget.

The period you intend to monitor the bed bugs

Do you need to monitor your space for an extended time or for just 24 hours? Most passive monitors are equipped to monitor bed bugs for extended periods ranging from days, weeks and even months. If you are looking for immediate results, active bed bug monitors are the ideal option.

Availability of electricity in the area you intend to monitor

Most active bed bug monitors run on electricity. If you intend to invest in such monitoring tools you need to ensure that electricity is readily available. Logically, access to electricity is not a problem in the USA and other developed nations such as the United Kingdom. That said, you may need to invest in extension running cords to facilitate proper placement of monitoring devices.

Is the area you intend to monitor occupied or empty?

Passive devices are not reliable in vacant dwellings where there are no hosts It is best to use passive bed bug monitors in occupied areas because humans act as attractants. Active monitors, on the other hand, are ideal for empty spaces because they have attractants that mimic hosts.

How critical are your monitoring efforts to overall bed bug prevention activities

The reliability of different bed bug monitoring tools has not been quantified at present time. Different devices work best at different settings and circumstances. No one monitor is 100% reliable, thus you might want to use multiple methods to ensure maximum reliability of the results.

Guidelines on how to use bed bug monitors (traps)

There are several types of bed bug monitoring devices available in the market. The best bed bug traps come with specific handling and usage guidelines. That said, there are some general usage guidelines for different types of bed bug monitors. Here is a general outline of guidelines for handling and using different types of monitors;

Guidelines for DIY monitors

When dealing with any Do-It-Yourself (DIY) bed bug monitors;

  • You must familiarize yourself with safe handling activities for various components including dry ice.
  • You must familiarize yourself with the proper handling guidelines when dealing with specific DIY devices.
  • Place the traps next to sleeping and resting areas and check it regularly

Guidelines for passive bed bug monitors

When dealing with any passive bed bug monitor;

  • In a domestic setting, you need to check the trap at least once a month but it advisable to inspect it regularly
  • Most passive monitors come with a protective covering that shields glue on the inside surface of the device. You must remove the protective covering before you install the device at an ideal spot
  • Install the device on the foot of the bed and remove all other alternatives that bed bugs might use to crawl onto your bed
  • Remove any chemicals within a 6 to 12 inches range of the monitor

Guidelines for Active bed bug monitors

When dealing with any active bed bug monitor;

  • Limit installation to areas where they are not easily interfered with by children or pets
  • Familiarize yourself with your device’s specific handling and installation guidelines
  • Inspect the device at regular intervals

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cheapest kind of bed bug monitor?

Do-It-Yourself (DIY) bed bug monitors are the cheapest options because you can construct them by yourself. For commercial bed bug monitoring devices, prices vary depending on the manufacturer. Passive monitors, however, are cheaper than active monitors with a price range of $10 to $60 and $50 to $600 respectively.

What is the most efficient bed bug monitor?

According to a report published on the Pest Control Technology Magazine, ClimbUp Insect Interceptors, dry ice traps, and the Nightwatch device are the most effective monitors. That said, there is no clear study that points to the most efficient bed bug monitor.

How long can a bed bug monitor work without maintenance?

The duration in which a bed bug monitor can work without maintenance depends on specific products. Even passive bed bug monitors require regular maintenance (cleaning and re-lubrication).

Do I need to refill my bed bug trap?

Yes, you may need to refill some bed bug traps especially active devices that use carbon dioxide and chemical lures. The best thing to do is check a product’s specifications before you buy it.

Are traps enough to get rid of bed bug infestations?

No, traps are not enough to get rid of bed bug infestations. The primary purpose of traps is bed bug detection, but low level infestations can escape your monitoring efforts. It is best to seek knowledge on the causes of bed bug infestations and take the necessary preventive measures.

Final Thoughts

Monitoring bed bugs is a crucial step in bed bug management because it makes treatment easy by allowing you to discover infestations early. As bed bugs continue to spread across the United States, you need to step up your monitoring efforts. That said, no single monitoring tool offers complete accuracy. Reading our blogs regularly will help you to learn other ways of dealing with these pesky insects.