We have a ton of visitors asking how they can verify a bed bug infestation; they wake up with bites, but no matter how hard they look,they can’t find any bed bugs. Well, we have two solutions for you, both are do it yourself bed bug traps!
Bed Bug Trap using Dry Ice
We are going to place a thermos with dry ice on top of a glass bowl sitting inside a litter box. Bed bugs zero in on the CO2 you give off when sleeping which is exactly what dry ice gives off as it warms. Being heaver than air, the CO2 drops down into the box and overfills into the room – it’s like a loud dinner bell!
The bugs climb up the box, fall inside and can’t get out. The outside cloth helps them climb up and drop into the box but once in, the powder and plastic sides prove too slippery to escape and they become trapped.
It takes less than an hour to make and you can do it with products from your local dollar store. You’ll need a plastic cat litter box, glue, white paint, baby powder (avoid powder made with cornstarch), scissors, cloth, foam brush, dry ice, insulated thermos with spout on top and small round glass bowl.
Note, I already had some products, but when I went to the dollar store, I found they had everything I needed ($1 each) except for the dry ice which I purchased from Meijer’s grocer for $2.00.
Let’s get started building your bed bug trap
Paint the bottom of the litter box white (I used white gloss) so that the trapped bugs are easy to identify. I used fast drying paint and a hair dryer to speed up the process.
Once the paint has dried, cut the top of the box off so that edges are straight. My top had a lip that would have made it difficult for the bed bugs to climb inside.
With my $1 towel, I cut sections that would fit on the outside of the box and glued them in place taking care to not leave any gaps between the cloth and side where the bugs could hide. Make sure the cloth goes the entire length of the side so that as you lay the trap on the floor, it touches the carpet (or wood, etc). This makes it easy for the bed bugs to climb up the side.
Once you have glued the cloth on, apply a light dusting of baby powder to the bottom and insides of the trap. Also apply a light coating to your glass bowl. The small bowl will sit on the inside of the trap acting as a base for your thermos and prevents the bed bugs from climbing up the thermos.
This next part can be Dangerous as dry ice can severely burn your skin; use thick insulated gloves, grill thongs or pliers to handle the ice. Placing dry ice in a sealed container without ventilation will cause pressure to build until the top blows. Dry ice releases carbon dioxide which could cause asphyxia so only use one of these traps per average sized room. A 1/3 gallon bug trap is said to be the equivalent of two adults sleeping. Keep away from children.
To test your trap, place some dry ice in the thermos, add a quarter cup water, close the lid and learn the spout angle to determine levels (closed, part way and completely open).
The final step is to place the dry ice in the empty thermos, screw on the cap, open the spot half way and place it on the glass base inside the litter box around 10:00pm. Place the bed bug trap next to the bed. Note: if the spout directs the CO2 away from your trap, you can hang a piece of paper over the spout to redirect the flow downward and into the trap (without blocking the spout).
In the morning you’ll see any bed bugs that were in the area. You should set the trap multiple times over a two week period. NOTE: If you move this trap to another room, make sure to seal it in a plastic bag and freeze it to make sure you don’t accidentally transport the bugs to another room!
Bed Bug Trap w Alka-Seltzer®
Did you know that Alka-Seltzer when placed in water creates Carbon Dioxide (CO2), yup, those bubbles are filled with it and it’s the same stuff that tells bed bugs food is on the table (that being you!).
You’ll need a plastic litter box and materials used to finish the box (shown in the image used for the Dry Ice trap), wet sponge, disposable hand warmers, a plate and 4 Alka-Seltzer tablets and DE. Make the box as shown in the image above. Activate the hand warmer and place it in the center of the plate. Place the wet sponge on the hand warmer and then the tablets spaced evenly on the sponge. Now take the plate and everything that’s on it and place it inside the box.
The moisture in the sponge will keep the Alka-Seltzer reaction active and continually release CO2; this should be enough to attract any bed bugs in hiding close to the trap. Once they are in the trap, they will be unable to leave and you’ll have the proof you’re looking for :)
Note: Placing the tablets in room water will cause the CO2 to release much faster but won’t last nearly as long (you need to give them time).
I’ve Trapped Bed Bugs, Now What?
When you have captured the bugs, please, take a picture and share it with others! Simply upload your pictures here (just click and select your images, fast and easy) I’ll edit it before placing it on the site (I’ll clean it up, remove any identifying information and size it for the site).
Know that you know you have an infestation, you need to get rid of them, it’s war, but war doesn’t have to be expensive :) See my page on using bed bug dust to eliminate an infestation, it’s inexpensive, easy to do and works great!
Thanks to Dr. Changlu Wang, an entomologist from Rutgers University who came up with the idea of using dry ice to trap bed bugs and Richard Fagerlund, a board- certified entomologist at the University of New Mexico for covering the use of Alka-Seltzer in traps.
Trap or kill other pests:
A peanut butter covered Alka-Seltzer tablet will put an end to mice, rats and other rodents. Combine the tablets with soap and water to catch fleas from pets and mosquitoes looking for food.
Duct Tape Bug Trap
I receive the comment below from Richard in Dallas (Thanks Richard!) and had to add it to the page, it’s an excellent example of how you can trap bed bugs with duct tape:
Duct tape worked for me.
I had bed bugs for over a year. The guy came in and sprayed the apartment every week. The poison sort of worked but no poison ever killed them all.
The bed bug guy suggested petroleum jelly because the bugs have very small legs and would get stuck in it. I rejected that solution because I knew from previous non-bed bug experience with petroleum jelly that it was very messy.
After waking up several times the previous two nights with those critters all over my pillow, I decided to set a duct tape trap for them. One of those times when they woke me up I determined from what direction they were coming from.
The next night I positioned duct tape so that they would have to crawl over the duct tape to get to me. The next morning thirty some odd bed bugs were caught in the tape. None got to me.
The next night I put new duct tape out. Again, the next morning there were thirty odd bed bugs caught in the duct tape.
I kept doing this every night. By the forth morning no adult bid bugs were caught in the duct tape. But I kept putting new duct tape out every night to catch the baby bed bugs.
After about a month I stopped putting out the duct tape.
In the past year I have seen only one bed bug. He ended up not only Cloroxed but entombed in duct tape inside a dumpster.