2013 Highlights: UC IPM Annual Report

Monitoring for bed bugs made easier

Bed leg with a simple bed bug trap, showing captured bugs.

Bed bug monitors trap bed bugs going to or coming from a sleeping host. (Photo by D. Choe.)

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  • Monitoring devices help find bed bug infestations.
  • Devices use heat or a host to attract bugs, or are used where bugs walk or hide.

Bed bugs spend 90% of their life hiding in cracks and crevices, making them difficult to find. Although bed bugs feed on human blood, you may not notice them, since many people don’t get red, itchy bumps from their bites. Unfortunately, people sometimes assume they have bed bugs and apply pesticides without confirming that bed bugs are actually present.

IPM Advisor Andrew Sutherland is working with UCCE specialists Vernard Lewis and Dong-Hwan Choe, UC Berkeley Professor Neil Tsutsui, and others from private and public agencies to find an easy, effective way to monitor for bed bugs, possibly reducing unnecessary pesticide applications.

To find the best monitoring device, the researchers released hungry bed bugs into arenas that held a monitoring device and several pieces of bedroom furniture. The good news: both active and passive monitoring devices caught bed bugs.

Active monitors attract bed bugs using heat, carbon dioxide, host odors, pheromones, or a combination of these. Passive monitors lure bed bugs into their favorite kind of hiding place or rely on chance—bed bugs walk and fall into pitfalls or sticky traps.

Results of the project have been incorporated into videos, blogs, the Bed Bug Pest Note, the UC IPM Green Bulletin newsletter (PDF), and published in the journal California Agriculture.

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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