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Written by A O’Neill, Licensed Pest Management Professional
What is a bed bug interceptor?
A bed bug interceptor (also referred to as a pitfall trap or bed bug trap) is basic in design, but is actually one of the most useful devices for detecting and monitoring bed bug infestations.
These pitfall traps are inexpensive to buy and work 24/7 once they are placed under the furniture legs. Although bed bugs can climb various surfaces and will climb up your bed to feed, they are not good at climbing vertical, slippery surfaces.
So these bed bug traps are designed based on this inability. These plastic devices are dish-shaped, and double-cupped and are available in various sizes to fit under each leg of your bed or other items of furniture.
How do bed bug interceptors work?
Interceptor traps have an inner wall and an outer wall with a “moat” or “pitfall” in between. The outside wall is angled and has a rough surface so the bed bug can easily climb up and over.
The slick surface of the wall is what stops the bed bugs from other areas of your room from being able to reach the leg of your bed and climb up.
And, as bed bugs cannot jump or fly, the only option they have is to climb over the outer wall where they will fall into the pitfall area and won’t be able to get back out.
The trapped bugs also won’t be able to access the inner well where the bed leg is because of the sleek wall.
If you do see any in the inner well, then these are the ones that have climbed down from your bed or other furniture and are now trapped, stopping them from infesting other areas and belongings.
People often think the bed bugs in the inner cup have managed to climb up from the outer well, but this is not the case.
These bed bug trap devices need very little maintenance apart from occasionally removing any trapped bed bugs and cleaning the wells of debris and dust.
Are bed bug interceptors effective?
Yes, they are effective and they are an essential part of getting rid of bed bugs. They help you determine if you have the beginnings of an infestation and they help you monitor the infestation over time.
Although interceptors work well, they should be used as part of the overall treatment process and not just on their own as they do not kill the bed bugs, only trap them.
The other treatments include: washing and heat drying clothes and bedding, clearing clutter from the room, using a steamer to kill the bed bugs with heat should be considered.
Read our step-by-step guide on how to get rid of bed bugs permanently in your home.
How are bed bug interceptors effective?
- they help decrease the number of bites you would get from bed bugs coming from other areas of the room
- they require very little maintenance
- they trap the bugs making it virtually impossible for them to escape
- research shows that bed bug interceptors are more effective at detecting bed bugs than visual inspections alone
- they can also help detect a low-level infestation when there are not that many to find
- Interceptors help reduce the need for insecticides as they trap the bugs and disrupt their lifecycle
How do you use bed bug interceptors?
These bed bug traps are described as passive monitors because they don’t have to rely on carbon dioxide or heat to attract the bugs to the trap.
However, this is not strictly accurate as the interceptors can only work by using you as the attractant, or lure, when you’re asleep as you breathe out CO2 and produce heat.
So, let’s take a general look at how you install them.
Whichever brand of interceptor you buy, always read the instructions before you do anything.
- First, you have to isolate your bed so it becomes an ‘island’ in the room. Pull the bed away from all walls and make sure the curtains, bedside tables, or anything else is not touching the bed.
- Remove any dust ruffle skirts and other items that might touch the floor allowing the bed bugs to climb up
- Remove everything from under the bed. Anything left underneath will provide a bridge for these parasites to get onto your bed.
- If you haven’t already done so, seal the mattress, box spring, and pillows in bed bug proof certified encasements.
- Place each bed leg or caster into the center well of an interceptor. These should also be used wherever people sleep or rest (couch, armchair, etc).
As the inner well of some interceptors is prone to cracking when used on carpet, it is recommended that a flat disk or flat piece of wood be used to support it underneath.
Alternatively, I recommend buying crack-resistant interceptors, such as the ClimbUp Insect Interceptor range. These are the most popular interceptors on the market and have undergone a redesign so they don’t crack and no longer need an application of talcum powder.
Read as many online reviews as you can about the different devices available so you can get a good idea of which ones are sturdy and don’t break.
It’s really important to remember that all sheets and comforters are ALWAYS tucked in. Nothing should be hanging off the bed and touching the floor, which means no clothes, towels, etc. All electrical appliance cords should be unplugged from the wall to prevent creating a bridge to your bed. Hungry bed bugs will be looking for any opportunity to get onto your bed and feed!
How do you clean bed bug interceptors?
Regularly monitor and inspect (weekly is fine) each interceptor for cracks, bed bugs, dust, and debris build-up which could provide the bugs with a way to escape the well.
Visually inspect the traps every couple of days if you are finding other signs of bed bugs.
If you need to remove an interceptor to clean be careful as live bed bugs may be in or on them.
Tips for cleaning:
- Carefully remove from under furniture leg.
- In a container, wash the interceptor in soapy water ensuring all bed bugs are completely immersed in the water. Carefully pour the soapy water with bed bugs into the toilet.
- Flush the toilet when you are sure all of the bugs are removed from the interceptor.
- Wipe both the inside and outer wells dry with a tissue and dispose of the tissue in a plastic bag, seal, and take out for the trash immediately.
- Reapply talc if the interceptor was lined with it, or you can lightly apply some Cimexa or other insecticide dust and replace under the leg of furniture.
Always follow the instructions that are provided with your interceptors, but the above will generally apply.
Remember, these traps will only work in a room where someone sleeps or rests as bed bugs are attracted to body heat and the carbon dioxide you breathe out.
Overall, bed bug interceptors do work and are effective if used together with other treatment processes. They will help with the detection of an infestation and allow you to continually monitor for these unwanted pests, but they can’t eradicate them.
If you think you might have the early stages of a bed bug problem, you can do your own pest control with our guide, or contact a pest control company that deals with bed bugs to take care of it for you.