Bed Bug Detection


Masini P, Zampetti S, Moretta I, Bianchi L, Miñón Llera G, Biancolini F, and Stingeni L. 2017. Bed bug dermatitis: detection dog as a useful survey tool for environmental research of Cimex lectularius. International Journal of Dermatology. 44(9): 1078-80. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2016.02.013

Letter to the Editor. “…[C]anine olfactory inspection allows accurate detection of bed bug infestation suggesting appropriate disinfestation measures and thus providing the dermatologic community with a reliable method to solve the skin lesions.”

Vail, K. M., and J. G. Chandler. 2017. Bed bug (Hemiptera: Cimicidae) detection in low-income, high-rise apartments using four or fewer passive monitors. Journal of Economic Entomology. 110: 1187–1194. doi: 10.1093/jee/tox053

“Bed bug, Cimex lectularius L., management in low-income, high-rise housing for the elderly and disabled can be difficult. Early detection is key to slowing their spread, and reducing management cost and time needed for control. To determine the minimum number of passive monitors needed to detect low-level bed bug infestations in this environment, we evaluated three monitors placed one, two, or four per apartment in a 3 by 3 experimental design. One sticky monitor, The Bedbug Detection System, and the two pitfall monitors, ClimbUp Insect Interceptors BG and BlackOut BedBug Detectors, were evaluated. Bed bugs were trapped by the ClimbUp Insect Interceptors BG and the BlackOut BedBug Detector in 88% and 79% of apartments, respectively, but only in 39% of the apartments monitored with The Bedbug Detection System. The Bedbug Detection System required significantly longer time to detect bed bugs than either the ClimbUp Insect Interceptor BG or the BlackOut BedBug Detector. With the less effective Bedbug Detection System data removed from analyses, detection rates ranged from 80 to 90%, with no significant differences among one, two, or four monitors per apartment. Results indicate it is especially important to include a bed placement when only placing a few monitors. Future work should compare the combination of cursory visual inspections with various monitor numbers and placements per apartment to determine the most efficient, cost-effective system that will be accepted and implemented in low-income housing.”


Gordon, N., L. O’Shaughnessy,D. Fitzpatrick, S. Doyle, and B. Mitchell. 2016. A two pronged approach to the detection of Cimex lectularius (common bed bug) using novel bed bug proteins. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 137(2). doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2015.12.105

“The exponential increase of Cimex lectularius (common bed bug) infestations in households, schools and businesses has resulted in major problems for home owners and the hospitality industry. The development of immunoassays to identify the presence and extent of the infestation has been made possible by the production of monoclonal antibodies to two major proteins.”

Sheele, J. M., N. Mallipeddi, K. Coppolino, M. Chetverikova, S. Mothkur, and C. Caiola. 2016. FMC Verifi traps are not effective for quantifying the burden of bed bugs in an emergency department. American Journal of Infection Control. 44: 1078–1080. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2016.02.013.

Letter to the Editor. “Bed bugs are a growing problem in EDs, and there is currently no way to identify patients with bed bugs before entering an ED treatment room. FMC Verifi traps placed outside patient rooms do not appear to be an effective strategy to monitor the number of bed bugs in the ED.”


Singh, N., C. Wang, and R. Cooper. 2015. Effectiveness of a sugar-yeast monitor and a chemical lure for detecting bed bugs. Journal of Economic Entomology. 108(3):1298-1303. doi: 10.1093/jee/tov061.

“Effective bed bug (Cimex lectularius L.)monitors have been actively sought in the past few years to help detect bed bugs and measure the effectiveness of treatments. Most of the available active monitors are either expensive or ineffective. We designed a simple and affordable active bed bug monitor that uses sugar-yeast fermentation and an experimental chemical lure to detect bed bugs. The sugar-yeast mixture released carbon dioxide at a similar rate (average 405.1 ml/min) as dry ice (average 397.0 ml/min) during the first 8 h after activation. In naturally infested apartments, the sugar-yeast monitor containing an experimental chemical lure (nonanal, L-lactic acid, 1-octen-3-ol, and spearmint oil) was equally effective as the dry ice monitor containing the same lure in trapping bed bugs. Placing one sugar-yeast monitor per apartment for 1-d was equally effective as 11-d placement of 6-18 Climbup insect interceptors (a commonly used bed bug monitor) under furniture legs for trapping bed bugs. When carbon dioxide was present, pair-wise comparisons showed the experimental lure increased trap catch by 7.2 times. This sugar-yeast monitor with a chemical lure is an affordable and effective tool for monitoring bed bugs. This monitor is especially useful for monitoring bed bugs where a human host is not present.”


Gries, R., R. Britton, M. Holmes, H. Zhai, J. Draper, and G. Gries. 2014. Bed bug aggregation pheromone finally identified. Angewandte Chemie International Edition. 54(4): 1151-1154. doi:10.1002/anie.201409890

“Bed bugs have become a global epidemic and current detection tools are poorly suited for routine surveillance. Despite intense research on bed bug aggregation behavior and the aggregation pheromone, which could be used as a chemical lure, the complete composition of this pheromone has thus far proven elusive. Here, we report that the bed bug aggregation pheromone comprises five volatile components (dimethyl disulfide, dimethyl trisulfide, (E)-2-hexenal, (E)-2-octenal, 2-hexanone), which attract bed bugs to safe shelters, and one less-volatile component (histamine), which causes their arrestment upon contact. In infested premises, a blend of all six components is highly effective at luring bed bugs into traps. The trapping of juvenile and adult bed bugs, with or without recent blood meals, provides strong evidence that this unique pheromone bait could become an effective and inexpensive tool for bed bug detection and potentially their control.”


Singh, N., C. Wang, and R. Cooper. 2013. Effect of trap design, chemical lure, carbon dioxide release rate, and source of carbon dioxide on efficacy of bed bug monitors. Journal of Economic Entomology. 106(4):1802-1811.

“Bed bugs, (Cimex lectularius L.), are difficult to find because of their nocturnal and secretive behavior. In recent years, a number of monitors containing carbon dioxide (CO2), chemical lures, heat, or both, to attract bed bugs have been developed for detecting bed bugs. Ineffective trap design, lack of attraction of chemical lures, high cost of the CO2 delivery system, or insufficient CO release rates are some factors that limited the wide adoption of these monitors. To develop an affordable and effective monitor, we conducted a series of laboratory and field tests. Specifically, we tested a new pitfall trap design, a chemical lure mixture, different CO2 release rates, and a sugar and yeast mixture as CO2 source. Results show the new pitfall trap design was significantly more effective than Climbup insect interceptor, the most effective passive monitor available in the market for bed bugs. The experimental chemical lure mixture increased Climbup insect interceptor catch by 2.2 times. Results exhibit a distinct positive relationship between the CO2 release rates and bed bug trap catches. There were no significant differences between CO2 derived from cylinders and CO2 generated from sugar and yeast mixture in their attractiveness to bed bugs. The findings suggest an effective and affordable monitor can be made incorporating the new pitfall trap design, a sugar and yeast mixture, and a chemical lure.”

Vaidyanathan, R., M. F.  Feldlaufer. 2013. Bed bug detection: current technologies and future directions. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 88(4):619-625. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.12-0493.

“Technologies to detect bed bugs have not kept pace with their global resurgence. Early detection is critical to prevent infestations from spreading. Detection based exclusively on bites is inadequate, because reactions to insect bites are non-specific and often misdiagnosed. Visual inspections are commonly used and depend on identifying live bugs, exuviae (shed skins), or fecal droplets. Visual inspections are inexpensive, but they are time-consuming and unreliable when only a few bugs are present. Use of a dog to detect bed bugs is gaining in popularity, but it can be expensive, may unintentionally advertise a bed bug problem, and is not foolproof. Passive monitors mimic natural harborages; they are discreet and typically use an adhesive to trap bugs. Active monitors generate carbon dioxide, heat, a pheromone, or a combination to attract bed bugs to a trap. New technologies using DNA analysis, mass spectrometry, and electronic noses are innovative but impractical and expensive for widespread use.”


Dean, I., and M. T. Siva-Jothy. 2012. Human fine body hair enhances ectoparasite detection. Biology Letters. 8: 358–361. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2011.0987.

“Human fine body hair may have a defensive function against bed bugs and other external parasites.  It takes the insect longer to find a good feeding site and thereby provides additional time for humans to locate the bed bug.”


Wang, C., W.T. Tsai, R. Cooper, and J. White. 2011. Effectiveness of bed bug monitors for detecting and trapping bed bugs in apartments. Journal of Economic Entomology. 104: 274–278. doi: 10.1603/EC10141

“Bed bugs, Cimex lectularius L., are now considered a serious urban pest in the United States. Because they are small and difficult to find, there has been strong interest in developing and using monitoring tools to detect bed bugs and evaluate the results of bed bug control efforts. Several bed bug monitoring devices were developed recently, but their effectiveness is unknown. We comparatively evaluated three active monitors that contain attractants: CDC3000, NightWatch, and a home-made dry ice trap. The Climbup Insect Interceptor, a passive monitor (without attractants), was used for estimating the bed bug numbers before and after placing active monitors. The results of the Interceptors also were compared with the results of the active monitors. In occupied apartments, the relative effectiveness of the active monitors was: dry ice trap>CDC3000>NightWatch. In lightly infested apartments, the Interceptor (operated for 7 d) trapped similar number of bed bugs as the dry ice trap (operated for 1 d) and trapped more bed bugs than CDC3000 and NightWatch (operated for 1 d).The Interceptor was also more effective than visual inspections in detecting the presence of small numbers of bed bugs. CDC3000 and the dry ice trap operated for 1 d were equally as effective as the visual inspections for detecting very low level of infestations, whereas 1-d deployment of NightWatch detected significantly lower number of infestations compared with visual inspections. NightWatch was designed to be able to operate for several consecutive nights. When operated for four nights, NightWatch trapped similar number of bed bugs as the Interceptors operated for10 d after deployment of NightWatch. We conclude these monitors are effective tools in detecting early bed bug infestations and evaluating the results of bed bug control programs.”


Wang, C., K. Saltzmann, E. Chin, G. W. Bennett, and T. Gibb. 2010. Characteristics of Cimex lectularius (Hemiptera: Cimicidae), infestation and dispersal in a high-rise apartment building. Journal of Economic Entomology. 103: 172–177. doi: 10.1603/EC09230

“Bed bugs, Cimex lectularius L. (Hemiptera: Cimicidae), are a fast-growing urban pest of significant public health importance in the United States and many other countries. Yet, there is very little field research on the ecology of this pest due to its near absence in the United States and most developed nations for several decades. We investigated characteristics of the bed bug infestation and dispersal in a 223-unit high-rise apartment building through visual inspections, intercepting devices, and resident and staff interviews between December 2008 and April 2009. The following results were obtained: 1) 101 apartments (45% of the high-rise building complex) experienced bed bug infestations (within 41 mo of the first confirmed introduction), 2) 78% of the bed bugs trapped were nymphs, 3) an average of six bed bugs were detected dispersing through apartment entry doors every 4wk, 4) adult bed bugs were 9 times more likely to disperse than nymphs, 5) 53%of apartments adjacent to infested apartments also were infested, and 6) 50% of the interviewed residents who had infestations were unaware of the bed bugs in their apartments. In addition to active dispersal, several passive bed bug dispersal mechanisms were observed: bringing bed bug-infested furniture into the building, travel, resident turnover, resident visits, and use of a bed bug-infested wheelchair in building common areas. These findings validate an urgent need for public education, early detection, and adoption of more effective bed bug monitoring and intervention programs to curb the exploding problem of bed bug infestations.”


Wang, C., T. Gibb, G. W. Bennett, and S. McKnight. 2009. Bed bug (Heteroptera: Cimicidae) attraction to pitfall traps baited with carbon dioxide, heat, and chemical lure. Journal of Economic Entomology. 102: 1580–1585. doi: 10.1603/029.102.0423

“Carbon dioxide (CO2), heat, and chemical lure (1-octen-3-ol and L-lactic acid) were tested as attractants for bed bugs, Cimex lectularius L. (Heteroptera: Cimicidae), by using pitfall traps. Both CO2 and heat were attractive to bed bugs. CO2 was significantly more attractive to bed bugs than heat. Traps baited with chemical lure attracted more bed bugs but at a statistically nonsignificant level. In small arena studies (56 by 44 cm), pitfall traps baited with CO2 or heat trapped 79.8 ± 6.7 and 51.6 ± 0.9% (mean ± SEM) of the bed bugs after 6 h, respectively. Traps baited with CO2 + heat, CO2 + chemical lure, or CO2 + heat + chemical lure captured ≥ 86.7% of the bed bugs after 6 h, indicating baited pitfall traps were highly effective in attracting and capturing bed bugs from a short distance. In 3.1- by 1.8-m environmental chambers, a pitfall trap baited with CO2 + heat + chemical lure trapped 57.3 ± 6.4% of the bed bugs overnight. The pitfall trap was further tested in four bed bug-infested apartments to determine its efficacy in detecting light bed bug infestations. Visual inspections found an average of 12.0 ± 5.4 bed bugs per apartment. The bed bugs that were found by visual inspections were hand-removed during inspections. A pitfall trap baited with CO2 and chemical lure was subsequently placed in each apartment with an average of 15.0 ± 6.4 bed bugs collected per trap by the next morning. We conclude that baited pitfall traps are potentially effective tools for evaluating bed bug control programs and detecting early bed bug infestations.”


Pfiester, M., P. G. Koehler, and R. M. Pereira. 2008. Ability of bed bug-detecting canines to locate live bed bugs and viable bed bug eggs. Journal of Economic Entomology. 101(4): 1389-1396.

“The bed bug, Cimex lectularius L., like other bed bug species, is difficult to visually locate because it is cryptic. Detector dogs are useful for locating bed bugs because they use olfaction rather than vision. Dogs were trained to detect the bed bug (as few as one adult male or female) and viable bed bug eggs (five, collected 5–6 d after feeding) by using a modified food and verbal reward system. Their efficacy was tested with bed bugs and viable bed bug eggs placed in vented polyvinyl chloride containers. Dogs were able to discriminate bed bugs from Camponotus floridanus Buckley, Blattella germanica (L.), andReticulitermes flavipes (Kollar), with a 97.5% positive indication rate (correct indication of bed bugs when present) and 0% false positives (incorrect indication of bed bugs when not present). Dogs also were able to discriminate live bed bugs and viable bed bug eggs from dead bed bugs, cast skins, and feces, with a 95% positive indication rate and a 3% false positive rate on bed bug feces. In a controlled experiment in hotel rooms, dogs were 98% accurate in locating live bed bugs. A pseudoscent prepared from pentane extraction of bed bugs was recognized by trained dogs as bed bug scent (100% indication). The pseudoscent could be used to facilitate detector dog training and quality assurance programs. If trained properly, dogs can be used effectively to locate live bed bugs and viable bed bug eggs.”