Build a bedbug detector / trap for $20

Yeah, bedbugs. I don’t have them, don’t want them, do things to avoid getting them when traveling (and returning home) but still think about them. From all that we read, they ARE around and they are really difficult to get rid of if you do allow them access.

And an adult bedbug can live for about a year between feedings, so it is not like you can starve them out if you do allow them in. Get a couple in your suitcase and they can start doing their breeding in the attic or garage or wherever you store stuff like that.

When I return from a trip, I don’t bring my suitcase in and I carefully inspect things. Clothes go immediately into the washing machine and I leave the suitcase in the garage for a couple of days. I have a soft back-pack style computer case (love it!) and I empty that and shake it out pretty good.

And bedbugs have made a Big Comeback in the US since we banned chemicals like DDT. They are nocturnal and hide in little dark places like joints in beds and in cracks along moldings in your bedroom. They are tiny and hard to see – you know you got them when you see the bites on your body and, from what I hear, they really make you paranoid about sleeping. And you can get them from sitting in an airplane seat! (Wikipedia article on bed bugs) – They ARE little blood suckers!

But I read that researchers at Rutgers University created a cheap homemade bedbug detector / trap using a plastic cat-food dish, an insulated bottle and some dry-ice. This dry-ice and-thermos, cat dish combo captured the bloodsucking critters in an infested apartment just as effectively as stuff used by professional exterminators, according to Wan-Tien Tsai, the scientist designer. And the device seems pretty darn simple — so one is going into the garage for that next trip.

You build this thing with an insulated one-third gallon jug like this $7 Coleman container that you fill with 2 pounds of dry ice that you can get for a couple of bucks in most grocery stores for keeping things cold.

As the dry-ice (frozen carbon dioxide — use gloves!) evaporates, the open spout lets out the C02, mimicking a breathing, blood-filled human meal is near. If bedbugs are around, they are attracted — in your garage with your suitcase or in your bedroom as a check of any infestation. Overnight is enough time to bait these little buggers into the other key part of the trap: an overturned small animal food / water dish on which the thermos sits. CO2 is heavier than air, and it seems out the top and down the sides and over the dish. You can see this work if you toss a couple small pieces into a bowl of water (grin).

Scuff up the outsides of the bowl to give the little bugs traction, but leave the interior surface smooth, even using talcum powder to make things slick. You can kill them by dumping them down the drain, but you want to catch them to see if you have them — they are little things…

The bugs climb the outer surface of the dish and get stuck in its moat. You can see if you have them. The idea is to draw them to and into the bowl, letting them think that food is nearby. They climb up and in and then get trapped. And the small quantities of CO2 used will not be harmful to anything.

Rutgers designed this trap to give people a cheap way to see if they have (or still have) a bedbug problem. Bedbugs have made a serious comeback in North America over the past few years, especially in big cities like New York, Dallas, LA and Boston. And they are unbelievably hard and expensive to get rid of once they get established. Using this device might help you prevent an infestation if you let this work overnight near your traveling gear when coming home.

So, there you go. Hope that you find this helpful. Not my normal kind of writing, but I thought to simply share this.

—————-  UPDATE ——————-

This is an interesting article and an update to the materials above:

Artificial plants could beat bed bugs

from: http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/bulletin/artificial-plants-could-beat-bed-bugs/17121

Bean plant leaves won’t bite bed bugs back, but they do impale the pests though their feet. The same mechanism could one day be used to make more effective traps.

A team of scientists from the University of California, Irvine and the University of Kentucky made the discovery when they examined an old folk remedy of scattering bean leaves to stop the pests, Popular Science’s Brooke Borel wrote today. The scientists observed that tiny hooks on the leaves effectively immobilize the bugs.

You might be wondering why bed bugs – the subject the famous childhood idiom “sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite” – are being taken so seriously by science. The pests have become a silent scourge in homes, hotels, and even movie theaters throughout major cities worldwide. Social constructs don’t matter to bed bugs: domiciles of the rich and poor are equally afflicted with infestations that can be costly and difficult to treat.

New York has a major bed bug problem. As a New Yorker, I’ve been witness to friends being forced to vacate their apartments, TV spots starring “Roscoe the bed bug sniffing dog”, mattress encasement ads on the subway, commercials with people freezing bugs, and steaming the bugs. Bug sprays won’t work. The pests, which have been a nettlesome problem throughout antiquity, have now mutated to be resistant to insecticides, and their bite is just as bad as ever.

It turns out that the bean leaf solution is as good as the best of those methods. Borel traced the approach as far back as 1678, when English philosopher John Locke traveled across Europe with a supply of kidney bean leaves as defense against bed bug bites. The Royal Austro-Hungarian Army used bean leaves to cleanse encampments and U.S. researchers observed the effect in the 1940s, Borel noted.

It’s possible to replicate the effect with synthetics that can be placed within the bugs’ path around beds, doors, suitcases, and other places where they reside. There’s a market if the researchers scratch their entrepreneurship itch.

For the FUN of It!
(They cannot get me on the water!)

Scott in DancerDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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