Archive for November 16th, 2010

Bed Bugs: Traps From Planet Powder

The research paper on bed bug lures (see the references in the first post) described pitfall traps made from small dishes coated with “fluoropolymer resin” (which is, I think, just some Teflon spray lube) and cat feeding dishes with a layer of talcum powder inside. The general notion is that the bugs can crawl in, but then can’t crawl back out.

You can buy ClimbUp Insect Interceptors for roughly $5 each that fit under furniture legs. They have two concentric moats filled with talcum powder, so that you can tell whether the bed bugs were coming or going. That’s helpful if you don’t know whether the infestation is in the bed or in the room.

You can build much the same thing from common household items for basically zero dollars. Your choice.

I made several different types of powder traps from various food containers. The simplest is just a lid from a raisin canister with a layer of powder:

Powder trap

Powder trap

Scuff up the outside edge with sandpaper, although I think the bugs are pretty good about climbing up obstacles on their own.

You can use these under gas lures or furniture legs:

Powder trap as furniture isolator

Powder trap as furniture isolator

Be careful the coaster doesn’t snuggle up to the rim, as shown there, thus allowing the bugs to travel between furniture and floor without visiting Planet Powder. In this case, there’s a tape barrier a foot further out: this is our abandoned-in-place couch.

Here’s what happens when a book louse heaves itself over the outer edge:

Book louse in powder

Book louse in powder

Not only do they lose traction, they get entirely fouled up in the powder.

This, we think, is one of the few bed bugs from our infestation, caught in a powder trap using a carbon dioxide lure:

Bedbug nymph in powder

Bedbug nymph in powder

This is what the critter looked like after rinsing it off in a generous dollop of denatured alcohol:

Bedbug nymph

Bedbug nymph

In my experience, when you find a bug near the perimeter, it just crawled in over the edge: they do not travel very far after landing on Planet Powder. A bug near the center probably came from the furniture, although we didn’t have that happen.

A stereo zoom microscope makes scanning Planet Powder for intruders much easier. Compared to what you didn’t spend on commercial CO2 lures and powder traps, you can buy a really nice microscope and have change left over. You should gimmick up a camera adapter so you can show off your findings.

I also used a headband magnifier. After a while, you don’t even feel like a dork when you walk around the house wearing one. Trust me on that.

A good LED flashlight comes in very, very handy.

If you arrived here by a search engine while looking for something completely different, note that “Planet Powder” has nothing to do with detergents or music.

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