Bed bugs are one of the hardest pests to live with. They tend to only come out at night when you’re dead asleep, feed on you, and disappear back to their nest. You wake up with new, itchy bites and maybe a trail of their feces and blood!
While severe bed bug infestations may require a professional, following a well-designed bed bug removal protocol can do the trick for most situations. A seemingly small step in this system is the use of bed bug traps.
Bed bug traps can have a massive impact in getting rid of your infection, though. One study found that bed bug traps caught an average of 219 bed bugs in each apartment over a course of 10 weeks!
I’ll tell you everything you need to know about traps for bed bugs, including how they work, what kinds there are, and what the best ones are.
What Are Bed Bug Traps?
Bed bug traps come in many different varieties which we’ll cover. They are what they sound like though, devices that bed bugs wander into and get trapped on. This helps reduce the bed bug population and lets you keep monitoring for bed bug activity.
Some bed bug traps use a sticky adhesive which the bug’s legs get stuck to. Others use a slippery pitfall that bugs can’t crawl out of.
Some traps will be placed along the edge of your wall or furniture, whereas others will go under the legs of your bed.
When to Use Bed Bug Traps
Bed bug traps are a key part of every bed bug strategy. While the traps alone will not get rid of your entire infestation quickly, it will be extremely helpful in both monitoring for bed bug activity and killing bed bugs that are out to feed.
Anyone who’s dealing with bed bugs should be using bed bug traps under the legs of their bed, if possible. They’re extremely affordable relative to the protection they provide and don’t involve any kind of chemicals or potential toxins.
It’s a no brainer – you need bed bug traps if you’re seeing bed bugs!
How Well Do Bed Bug Traps Work?
As we’ve said already, bed bug traps can’t handle big infestations all on their own. That said, they very effective when used in combination with other methods.
One study found that when used in combination with diatomaceous earth, a substance that shreds the exoskeletons of insects, that traps could reduce populations of bed bugs by as much as 97.8%. They also found that interceptor bed bug traps (physical barriers) attracted an average of 219 bed bugs over a 10-week period, but as high as 354 in one case.
Clearly, bed bugs are extremely effective at what they do!
Types of Bed Bug Trap
Bed bug traps can generally be grouped into two types based on their mechanism.
Passive traps rely on bed bugs naturally walking into them and starving when they can’t get out. They don’t have any baits built into the traps such as foods or pheromones. Instead, they rely more upon understand bed bug behavior and knowing where bed bugs will be traveling in order to capture them.
That being said, there usually is a bait that’s used even with passive traps – your body! Bed bugs are attracted to the carbon dioxide we exhale so we know they’ll be trying to climb your bed in order to get to you to feed. Placing passive traps to intercept the bed bugs as they make this journey is key.
This is a bit grim, but it works well because the best possible bed bug bait is the very thing they like to eat the most – you!
Interceptor traps are extremely effective. They have to be placed underneath a leg of the bed so that a bed bug must move through the trap in order to get onto the bed. These traps will not work if the bed is up against a wall or has linens touching the floor.
Bed bugs are not very good at climbing slippery surfaces. The wall of the interceptor is too slippery for the bugs to escape once they have fallen in.
Glue traps are essentially flypaper for bed bugs. They trap the bugs on a sticky surface and when the insects can’t escape, they die. They are unsightly, but they do the job.
Glue traps are a good passive trap option when the furniture doesn’t allow the use of interceptors. They can also be placed in a greater variety of places – like in any cracks or crevices you suspect bed bugs may be living during the day. However, they don’t always work well. This is because the bugs can survive on the sticky surface long enough to send alarm pheromones out to keep other bugs away.
Active traps work similarly to their passive counterparts but have a lure component that attracts the bed bugs. These chemical lures don’t tend to attract insects as well as human bodies, though.
For this reason, these traps are not as useful in places that are habituated. You are a better lure than any trap could possibly be, so the traps are unlikely to keep you from getting bitten. But active traps are a great option for homeowners and landlords maintaining an unoccupied property.
Best Bed Bug Trap
- ✅ SLEEP EASY! 24/7 BEDBUG DETECTION AND PROTECTION — In addition to creating health risks and hazards, bed bug...
- ✅ EFFECTIVE, HEAVY DUTY, VERSATILE DESIGN — Eliminate your infestation once and for all! The Bed Bug Blocker (Pro)...
- ✅ ECO-FRIENDLY | NO CHEMICALS OR PESTICIDES — The Bed Bug Blocker (Pro) offers a pesticide-free solution to your...
Our best overall bed bug traps are the ECOPEST Bed Bug Interceptors. Used with a good mattress encasement (to keep bed bugs from invading your mattress and kill those who may have already), they force the bed bugs to crawl up the legs of the bed and fall in. This should massively reduce or eliminate bites.
Just keep in mind that you need to make sure the bugs can’t get onto your bed any other way. Even the smallest path, like a bit of dust ruffle touching the floor, and the bugs will find a way into your bed.
Best Glue Trap
- Great non-toxic way of catching rodents and insects.
- The glue covered surface measures 4.5"X 6.5" (The whole trap is 5.25"X 7.75")
- Can be used as flat or folded and placed where rodent or other target pests activities have been observed.
If you can’t use an interceptor trap for whatever reason, a glue trap may be your best option. Our recommendation is the Trapper Max Glue Traps. These have the option to be folded for smaller, tunnel-like spaces, or you can lay them out flat. Unlike interceptors, you can place them anywhere you think you might find bed bugs.
Another interesting component is that these are useful for monitoring other infestations like cockroaches or ants. The manufacturer even claims mice will get stuck to it. So these are a versatile option for overall pest prevention.
Best Active Lure Trap
- EFFECTIVE - More accurate than visual inspections, less obtrusive in detecting bed bugs versus traditional inspection...
- EASY TO USE - Easy to install and inspect, maintenance free. Place the monitor by the legs of your beds, in corners,...
- VERSATILE - Able to use in any setting or environment, proactive or reactive applications
As we said before, these shouldn’t be necessary unless you are treating an unoccupied space. They are also useful for a space that is only partially occupied like a hotel room or AirBnB.
Our choice of active lure trap is the SenSci ActivVolcano Bed Bug Monitor and Lure. This trap uses a chemical lure to attract bed bugs and otherwise works like an interceptor trap.
The downside to this and other lure traps is that if there are humans or animals around, bed bugs are more likely to choose them than the trap. This is because heat and carbon dioxide are the best way to attract bed bugs, not chemicals.
Researchers in 2007 found that bed bugs attempt to feed on aluminum when it is heated to the correct temperature.
Other studies have found that carbon dioxide is the strongest attractant for bed bugs. So either way, it isn’t pheromones. This is why passive traps are always better in habituated homes.
Bed Bug Traps FAQ
The good news about passive traps is that they don’t depend on any sort of chemical, so they last as long as bed bugs keep falling into them. Interceptors should be regularly emptied but otherwise will last, and sticky traps should be changed out whenever they become less sticky or get covered in bugs. This time can vary, but every few months should be a safe bet.
Traps that use lures will need regular replacement as the chemicals disperse. Chemical lures usually last a few months (2-3 for the product we recommend above).
Bagging and freezing is your safest bet. Another option is throwing them away, making sure to double bag and seal both very carefully. You can also throw some pesticide in the bag as an extra measure.
If you want to be on the safe side, put them in the freezer that goes down to 0°F. The bugs are hardy, so they need to be frozen for four days to ensure they are dead. After that, just throw away the bags.
Bed bug traps only work if they are in between you and the bugs. Some common reasons bed bug traps fail is if the bugs are hiding in the mattress or on the headboard, or if the bed bugs have another route up to the bed via the walls or the linens.
Do not count on bed bug traps to totally eliminate bed bugs and keep them from biting you. It should reduce their numbers, but you may still get some bites. Remember, traps are best as part of a broader strategy.
You can use sticky traps and place them in and in front of cracks and crevices in your home, as well as all around the perimeter of wherever your mattress is on the floor. It may take some trial and error to figure out precisely the best spots.
There are also glue traps that slide underneath a mattress. These may be worth a shot, but if the reviews are any indicator, their performance is not consistent so you may want to try it with other traps.
Theoretically, carbonated substances might attract bed bugs. The bugs are attracted to the carbon dioxide. However, they are often proposed as magical DIY solutions, and they just aren’t. If given the choice, a bed bug is far more likely to choose a sleeping human over the trap. So you’re better off just getting some very good passive traps.
This works because dry ice is just frozen carbon dioxide. It has been shown to attract and control bed bugs in laboratory studies. However, it’s not a great solution for the average user.
Dry ice can be very dangerous to handle and it can displace the oxygen in a space, making it more difficult to breathe and leading to poisoning.