Bedbug trap: University team develops non-toxic solution

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Bedbug Solution(NaturalHealth365) Bedbugs! For many, the word is associated only with the cheerful-sounding, rhyming advice: “good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite….”

But there’s nothing cheerful or charming about Cimex lectularius. Once established in a household, these noxious parasites can infest the cleanest of homes and resist the effects of the most powerful of pesticides – all while nightly snacking on human blood, leaving behind a welter of itchy, painful, and unsightly sores and scratches.

Bedbugs can take a toll on physical and emotional health

Bedbugs – staging a comeback after being virtually wiped out in the mid-twentieth century – can hitch a ride into your home in luggage, handbags, or bedding. Once they are established, they are notoriously difficult – and costly – to eradicate.

While bedbugs don’t transmit diseases, and don’t take enough blood to be harmful, they can cause mental and physical consequences. The bites may itch intensely; if they are open sores, they can become seriously infected.

Emotional consequences include stress, shame, anxiety, social withdrawal and insomnia. Cornell University reports that some people are so affected that they develop delusory parasitosis – the feeling that bugs are crawling on them, even when they’re not – which may persist long after the bedbugs have been eradicated.

A simple way to put the brakes on the spread of bedbugs

An inexpensive new trap, invented by professors and students at the University of Florida, is bringing hope to the tens of thousands of people affected by these parasites – many of whom can ill afford the services of a pest management professional.

The traps can be assembled for about a dollar apiece, using common household items

The interceptor-type trap capitalizes on two bedbug vulnerabilities: the wingless insects can’t climb smooth surfaces, and they must travel back and forth nightly between their human hosts and their hiding places. The simple design features rough surfaces, to allow bedbugs to crawl into the trap, and a smooth, slippery “moat” that makes it difficult for them to crawl out again.

The team behind the idea, all from the entomology department at University of Florida, was made up of an urban entomology professor, a doctoral student, an assistant professor and an associate research scientist.

Bedbug interceptor traps are simple to assemble

You will need two plastic food storage containers, such as margarine tubs, in two different sizes. Glue the smaller tub inside the larger one, with at least a ¼-inch space between the walls of the two containers. Apply four pieces of masking tape to the inside of the smaller container; strips should be long enough to extend from the bottom to the top edge.

Bedbugs traveling down chair and bed legs will enter the smaller container, climb up the tape to escape it, and become trapped in the larger container.

Covering the outside of the larger container with tape from its base to its upper edge helps to catch bugs traveling from the other direction. The tape should be wrapped as tightly and seamlessly as possible; cracks can serve as hiding spaces. Bedbugs are capable of fitting into crevices as narrow as the edge of a credit card – one reason that they are so elusive.

To make the “moat” even more slippery, the team recommends using a brush to dust talcum powder over the “trapping” area between the small and large containers. To avoid the traps cracking under the weight of furniture, position them over squares of tile or plywood.

How do I use homemade bedbug traps?

According to the traps’ inventors, it takes about 50 of them to treat a three-bedroom home – at a dollar apiece, a fairly modest investment. A trap must be placed under each leg of every piece of furniture.

The furniture should not be touching any other piece of furniture – because bedbugs can easily climb up fabric, it’s important that bedding or pillows not touch the floor, the walls or other objects. The goal is to position items so that furniture legs serve as the only route the bedbugs can take to crawl into or out of beds or chairs.

If you have a bedbug infestation, you should start seeing the captured bugs in the traps in the morning. They can be disposed of by drowning in soapy water. The team advises spraying them thoroughly with a solution of dishwashing detergent mixed with water in a 1 to 10 ratio.

If these are the first bedbugs you’ve captured, use a tweezers to place several in a leak-proof container filled with 70 percent rubbing alcohol, and take them to a local county extension office for an official identification.

The invention of a non-toxic, inexpensive DIY bedbug trap is very good news

Bedbugs breed prolifically; in fact, Cornell University notes that a female bedbug can lay more than 500 eggs over a lifetime. With new bedbugs emerging all the time, trying to rid your home of them by yourself can be time-consuming, frustrating and expensive.

Using commercial bedbug sprays and flea bombs can cause the insects to scatter to other parts of the house, worsening the problem – one of the reasons that experts strongly recommend hiring a pest management professional if you have bedbugs.

But even professionals can have a hard time eradicating bedbugs; treatments may involve the repeating spraying of toxic chemicals, increased application rates and numerous return visits.

The last thing the environment needs is more harsh chemicals, particularly used against insects that are becoming ever more resistant to them.

With its non-toxic qualities and recyclable components, the bedbug interceptor trap could very well prove to be a game changer, affording relief for people who have been living with these pests for far too long.

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  • Daan

    Cool, but almost 100 years ago a Dutch woman also had a non-toxic solution.
    I hope this new idea doesn’t die the same way…

    • pranah

      What was her solution?

  • molly

    Diatamaceous earth will kill them too and it’s non-toxic!

  • Astute Observer

    I see Molly already posted that diatomaceous earth will kill them. As I was reading the article, I was thinking that one should add either diatomaceous earth or soapy water into the outer container. The article does refer to the outer area as a “moat”, but then the how-to-build doesn’t mention putting anything in the “moat”.

    The article also says that bedbugs don’t spread diseases, but I’ve read somewhere that they are currently thought to have been the vector through which smallpox infected the Native American population. The source I read said that it was formerly thought that the pox spread through the blankets, but that the virus has been shown not to survive for long on cloth. Since bedbugs often travel on blankets, the current theory is that smallpox infection spread via bedbugs. I mention this because of people’s current emphasis on vaccinations to shield us from diseases which are best avoided through hygiene.

    I am grateful to the U of Fla for inventing these traps, and to naturalhealth365 for publishing this article.

    • cookie

      Even though the inventors call it a “moat,” there apparently doesn’t need to be soapy water in it– although that probably couldn’t hurt. The smoothness of the plastic surface, and the talcum powder, is supposed to be sufficient to trap them. As for diatomaceous earth, I think it works, but needs to actually contact each and every bug…usually impossible with bedbugs as so many are in hiding.

  • maria

    I read that chalk powder kills them too.

  • miriam

    Could you please show a picture so its clear re the tape

  • Karen Scribner

    This article should have mentioned that bedbugs don’t live in the mattress but in the furniture that holds it. They live in the cracks of beds, behind the baseboards, in picture frames. They live in house sparrow nests.
    This trap sounds like the best solution yet as somehow these critters can sense sleeping people and get to them. It also should have mentioned that bedbugs are coming in on clothing manufactured in other countries. I had to return Jockey underwear sprayed so heavily with insecticide that the odor could not be washed out. Spraying clothing shipped to the US is not the solution.

  • Jennifer Symonds

    I have a very heavy wood frame bed which I can barely move to tidy the bedding, I certainly could not possibly lift each leg in order to to place the traps underneath, & there’s no-one I can ask for help. Any more bright ideas?

    • Karen Scribner

      Just keep the diatomaceous earth sprinkled around the bed legs. Do not let covers touch the wall or floor.