Common bed bugs are unlikely to escape from interceptor traps. One bed bug, the tropical bed bug, climbs better and can escape easier. But only a few tropical bed bugs have ever been found in Florida in the US – they prefer living in South America, Asia, and Africa.
If you’re using interceptors for detection and monitoring, you want to be sure the traps are catching bed bugs if they’re crawling around. Keep reading to find out how bed bugs escape from interceptors and what to put in interceptors to keep them there (or kill them once trapped).
In this post, you’ll find out:
- The basics of how a bed bug interceptor trap works
- How bed bugs escape from interceptors
- What to put in an interceptor to kill bed bugs or keep them there
- What to do with bed bugs caught in interceptors
- The interceptor trap I recommend
How interceptor traps work
An interceptor has a deep reservoir along its rim. Bed bugs crawl up the rough outer sides of the reservoir and fall in. The walls inside the reservoir are smooth, so the bed bugs can’t crawl back out. They are now trapped.
I have a lot more detail about what a bed bug interceptor trap is and why it’s a great idea to use one (with video) in THIS blog post, so check it out if you want to know more.
Bed bugs that escape from interceptors
There are two types of bed bugs you need to know about:
- Common bed bugs
Common bed bugs are found across the US, the UK, the northern and central parts of Australia, and in most countries with moderate climates.
They’re called “common” bed bugs because they’re so common and found pretty much everywhere.
If you have bed bugs and you live in the US, UK, or the top half of Australia, they’re most likely common bed bugs.
- Tropical bed bugs
Tropical bed bugs love the hotter climates in Asia, Africa, and South America. Entomologists have found a few houses infested with tropical bed bugs in Florida, but these bed bugs haven’t been found anywhere else in the US or UK at this time. (source)
Tropical bed bugs do infest homes in Australia, with these bed bugs estimated to be quite prevalent in the southernmost parts of Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, and all of Victoria.
The light gray area in the map of Australia below shows where tropical bed bugs are found. The darker area higher up shows where common bed bugs live.
So why does all of this matter?
Because all bed bugs can climb and interceptor traps are open at the top, it’s possible for bed bugs to crawl out and escape.
But common bed bugs aren’t great climbers and are unlikely to make it out. Some might do, but they’re the exception rather than the rule.
Tropical bed bugs, on the other hand, release a sticky substance and have hairier feet to help them climb up things. This makes tropical bed bugs better climbers, so it’s easier for them to escape from an interceptor trap.
Remember that interceptors aren’t 100% reliable, though they are estimated to be 96% accurate at helping you determine if you have bed bugs and how bad the infestation is (again, you can read more about this in my article on how these traps work).
If you use interceptors and live in an area where tropical bed bugs are active, and you don’t catch any bed bugs in your interceptor traps, there’s a chance you have tropical bed bugs and they’re escaping before you find them in the morning.
It’s best to use interceptors and look for any of these signs of bed bugs for proof of an infestation.
What to put in a bed bug interceptor
You don’t have to put anything in a bed bug interceptor. The trap works without any chemicals, poisons, powders, or liquids.
If you’re sleeping in the bed or sitting on the furniture with interceptors, your body attracts bed bugs to you. The bed bugs come out when they’re hungry and try to get to you, then fall into the traps along the way.
Interceptors are a great way to find bed bugs and to lessen the number of bites if you’re still sleeping in your bed.
If no one is sleeping in the bed or using the furniture with interceptors, and you want to attract bed bugs as quickly as possible, put a small piece of dry ice in the interceptors’ central wells at night.
Dry ice gives off gas that tricks bed bugs into thinking there’s a human nearby to feed on, so they climb into the trap to get to the person (please read up and take safety precautions when handling dry ice as it can be dangerous).
There are some things you can put in the reservoir to make it difficult for captured bed bugs to climb out or to kill them when they’re in there.
Here’s a list of what to add to interceptors (with Amazon links):
- Sprinkle baby talcum powder or talc-free dusting powder in the interceptor reservoir to make it difficult for bed bugs to crawl out. In fact, any flour or powder used for baking will also do the trick. *
- Dust cimexa, diatomaceous earth (DE), or boric acid in the reservoirs to kill bed bugs. FYI: cimexa has been shown to be the most effective of the three. *
- Cover the bottom of the interceptor reservoirs with a little water with dish soap mixed in, to drown bed bugs.
- Pour some cooking oil, such as olive oil or vegetable oil, along the bottom of the reservoir to make it difficult for bed bugs to climb out and drown them.
- Line the inner walls of the interceptor reservoirs with car polish, shoe polish, or petroleum jelly, to make the walls slippery so bed bugs can’t climb out.
* If you use powder in the trap, apply a very fine dusting. Using too much powder makes it difficult to see bed bugs as fully grown bed bugs are only the size of apple seeds and young ones are much smaller than that. A lot of powder also gives bed bugs something to “stand” on, so they’re more likely to climb out.
What to do with bed bugs in an interceptor
If you’ve caught bed bugs in interceptor traps well done! Now you have proof they’re active and you can take steps to get rid of them.
But what should you do with the bugs you catch?
Pick them up them with some clear sticky tape and seal them in the tape, so there’s tape on either side of them. This way you can see the bed bugs but they can’t escape. Keep the bed bugs in the tape to show to a pest professional if needed.
You can also send the taped bed bugs to an expert for identification. It’s not always easy to tell if you have bed bugs, especially if this is the first time you’ve ever seen them. Bed bugs are often mistaken for fleas, spider beetles, and other insects.
You might even be able to get the bed bug identified by your local university for a small fee. For example, the Michigan State University accepts bed bugs in the mail or at a drop-off point for identification.
If you don’t want to keep the bed bugs or get them identified, drown them in soapy water or cooking oil for at least 24 hours, or seal them in a ziplock bag and throw them in a bin outside, or try some of these methods to kill the bed bugs.
The bed bug interceptor I recommend
Bed bug interceptors are widely available to purchase online from sites like Amazon and eBay, and in many home improvement stores.
Remember that you can use interceptor traps under the legs of furniture too, like tables and chairs, if the legs fit into the central well of the traps.
Before buying any interceptor, measure the length and width of the bedposts or legs. If the posts or legs are wider than usual, get an extra-large interceptor trap like this one. These XL traps can fit bedposts or furniture legs up to 7 x 5 inches (17.8 x 12.7 cm).
And my final tip is to always choose a black interceptor. According to my supplier, research shows that bed bugs stay away from white traps.