Bed sized bug trap – an evaluation

Last week I had an enquiry on my web site about a product called “bed sized bug trap”. I didn’t know anything about it so I looked it up. Apparently it is a large bed sheet that drapes over the bed with a sticky barrier around the perimeter. The theory is to prevent bugs from feeding at night which results in the bugs starving to death. I thought it was the worst idea ever for the following reasons:

The research appears to be lacking as one of the tips is to put sticky tape around the headboard legs so bugs can not access the head board. My own experiments with sticky tape was the bugs just walked across it without difficulty. Indeed I have found that approximately 2% of bed bugs can walk across a trapper max mouse glue board which is many times stickier than any sticky tape. It appears basic science is lacking here.

Secondly the presenter stated that “99% of bugs feed on the bed” so starving the bugs on the bed would be effective. Even if one took this dubious statement as true I fail to see how one can get rid of bugs by eliminating 99%.

My own observations with proactive use of climb up interceptors (which have a considerable amount of repellency built into the design) was that the starving repelled bugs simply chase the tenants in the living room leading to infested couches and arm chairs. Deliberately preventing night feeding simply encourages more day feeding which causes great harm with bugs in the clothing during the day. Any effort to repel bugs at night causes great harm.

A third claim the presenter made is that one need only starve the bugs for a few months because modern pyrethroid resistant bugs do not live more than a few months. My own experiments confirm that there is an element of truth here but not completely correct. Bed bugs placed in an open pan often do not live much more than 45 days – this is true. But I also found that bed bugs in a large sealed jar opened periodically for fresh air let the bugs live much longer. As such I hypothesize that bed bugs can conserve moisture and live longer when allowed to aggregate in harbourages. I have also noted in the field that bugs can live several months without feeding which again calls into question the 45 day lab observation I noted.

This device could be tested in a lab. I think the product would fail miserably.

But I suppose if one insisted in following through on this approach one could simply drape a sheet of thin plastic over the bed and dust vertical sides regularly with baby powder. The bugs would find walking up/down smooth dusted plastic very difficult. So there you go – $5 gets you an equivalent (most likely more effective) product. You could even wrap the headboard legs with plastic packing tape which bugs would have difficulty climbing – works better than sticky tape for repelling bugs and its is also cheaper. But don’t expect it go get rid of bed bugs.

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