A bed bug interceptor is placed under a bedpost or furniture leg to catch bed bugs. When bed bugs crawl to the top of the trap trying to get up the bed, or they crawl down the bedpost to the floor, they fall into the trap’s deep reservoir and can’t get out.
Interceptor traps play a critical role in the fight against bed bugs: Without them bed bugs are often missed, the infestation has time to get worse before steps are taken, and people mistakenly believe the bed bugs are gone when they aren’t.
Let’s find out how interceptors work, and how these traps can help you monitor and get rid of bed bugs once and for all.
Keep reading to find out:
- How a bed bug interceptor trap works (pictures and video)
- Why we use interceptors (even if they don’t kill bed bugs)
- The pros and cons of using an interceptor, before spending money on one
- My best advice when buying a bed bug interceptor
How a bed bug interceptor trap works
When bed bugs first arrive, they usually hide in a bed.
Over time, as they reproduce and there are more and more bed bugs, some have to move away from the bed to spread out in the room, and later other rooms in the house.
But no matter where bed bugs spend their days sleeping, they all love to eat one thing: human blood.
To find this blood, they have excellent senses that can smell our skin and sweat, sense our body heat, and pick up the carbon dioxide we breathe out. And when they’re hungry and they pick up signs that there’s a body nearby, bed bugs come out of hiding to feed.
Bed bugs usually do this every few days at 4 a.m. when a person’s asleep in the bed, which means that bed bugs must often crawl up bedposts to reach their sleeping target or down bedposts to go back to their hiding place after.
And this is when an interceptor has a chance to trap them.
A bed bug interceptor looks like two shallow dishes, one placed inside the other, with a gap between them. The gap between the bowls creates a deep double-walled gutter or reservoir around the edge.
The traps are placed under all bedposts or furniture legs and left there for at least a week, if not months or more. The traps can be left there permanently as a monitoring device without any problem.
Here’s where things get interesting…
An interceptor trap is rough on the outermost and innermost walls, so bed bugs can climb up the wall whether they want to crawl from the ground up the bed or down from the bed to the ground.
The walls inside the reservoir are totally smooth.
Once bed bugs climb up a rough wall they find themselves on a smooth wall, and they fall into the reservoir. The bed bugs can’t climb out because they can’t climb up steep, smooth surfaces like interceptor traps and plastic bags.
Some people put things like powders or poisons in the reservoir, to make it harder for bed bugs to crawl out or even kill those that do fall in. Click here to find out which bed bugs find it easier to escape from interceptors, what you can put in the traps, and how to do this.
In the morning, when the person awakes and checks the traps, they find bed bugs in the reservoir.
Interceptor traps don’t kill bed bugs, so why use them?
Interceptor traps don’t kill bed bugs, they catch bed bugs.
A bed bug interceptor trap is a monitoring device: it checks if you have bed bugs in the room and how bad the infestation is. The trap simply provides information to make better pest control decisions.
Interceptors aren’t there to kill bed bugs or get rid of them.
In fact, captured bed bugs are very unlikely to die in an interceptor because they can survive a range of temperatures and a very long time without food. You’d need to leave bed bugs in the traps for well over a year to starve them to death if they’re healthy adults (younger ones die after about 20 days).
Putting interceptor traps under bedposts or furniture legs for a week or more can help you understand the extent of the bed bug problem:
- If you find one or several bed bugs in the traps, you can be sure bed bugs are active in the room and there are more of them around. So there’s an active infestation and you can take these steps to kill bed bugs.
- If you catch many bed bugs in the traps, especially on more than one night, you know there are a lot of bed bugs. So the infestation is severe and needs immediate attention, preferably by a professional pest controller.
- Use the traps again after taking steps to get rid of bed bugs yourself or paying a professional pest controller to do this for you to see if the bed bugs are gone. If you don’t catch any bed bugs in these traps after leaving them out for 6 weeks and you see none of these signs of bed bugs, the bed bugs are probably gone and you can rest easy. If you catch another bed bug or bed bugs, you need another round of pest control (it often takes multiple rounds over a long period of time – sometimes years – to get rid of all bed bugs).
Studies show that interceptors have a 96% success rate of finding early bed bug infestations, and they’re the most effective option available at this stage.Source: Healthy Housing Solutions
The pros and cons of bed bug interceptors
The table below gives a list of the pros and cons of using bed bug interceptors, to help you decide if you really need these traps and why.
|Pros of bed bug interceptors||Cons of bed bug interceptors|
|Affordable and accurate||Take a few days to several weeks to catch bed bugs|
|Tell you if you have bed bugs and how bad the infestation is||Don’t catch bed bugs that are already hiding in the bed|
|No need for chemicals or poisons||Don’t kill bed bugs|
|Child- and pet-friendly, if nothing is added to the traps|
|Can be used over and over again|
|Can prevent or minimize bites as bed bugs fall into the trap on their way to you|
|Easy to use|
Buying the right bed bug interceptor
Bed bug interceptors are available to purchase online from sites like Amazon and eBay, and in many home improvement centers.
Remember that you can use interceptor traps under bedposts but also under the legs of furniture too, like tables and chairs.
Before buying an interceptor, measure the length and width of the posts or legs, to make sure they’ll fit in the central well of the trap. If the posts or legs are wider than most, get an extra-large interceptor trap like this one. These XL traps can fit posts or legs up to 7 x 5 inches (17.8 x 12.7 cm).
Choose a dark-colored trap. According to my supplier, research shows that bed bugs are repelled by light colors, so white traps aren’t as effective as black traps.
If the floor is carpeted, put plywood or tile under traps for support so they don’t crack under the weight of the bed or furniture.
And be sure to move the bed or furniture at least 1 foot (0.5 m) away from walls and other items or surfaces before putting traps underneath. This stops bed bugs from using the walls and other items to climb over to the bed or furniture rather than using the bedposts or furniture’s legs.