Make a Bedbug Trap for $1 Using Household Items

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An effective bedbug trap can be made at home using about a dollar’s worth of common household items, according to its clever team of inventors from the University of Florida.

Bedbugs are sinister parasites that often live in mattresses and other bedding, waiting for human victims to come and snooze. Once the person is asleep, the insects pierce the unsuspecting person’s skin with their mouthparts and suck out blood.

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Bedbugs might be in your bed and other furniture without you even knowing it, as the bites could be confused for mosquito bites or a rash.

To see if bedbugs are present, or to catch them if you know you have an infestation, all you need to make a single trap are two disposable plastic containers, masking tape and glue, according to Phil Koehler, UF/IFAS urban entomology professor. Once constructed, the traps catch and collect the bugs when they try to travel between people and the places where bedbugs hide, he said.

“This concept of trapping works for places where people sleep and need to be protected at those locations,” Koehler said in a press release.

Here’s what to do in five easy steps (and the fifth step is optional):

Step 1: Cut four pieces of rough-surfaced tape. Each piece should be at least as long as the wall of smaller container is tall.

Step 2: Evenly space and firmly press the four pieces of tape vertically on the inside surface of the smaller container. The tape allows the bugs to escape the small container easily and fall into the space between the small and the large container wall, where they are trapped, the researchers explain.

Step 3: Wrap tape around the exterior of the larger container from the base to its upper edge so the bedbugs can enter the trap easily.

Step 4: Glue the smaller container onto the center of the bottom of the larger container.

Step 5: The traps work best if you apply talc, including baby powder, to the space between the small and large container walls to make it harder for the bugs to escape.

The following video explains the process:

Many people use incorrect methods to treat bedbugs. Sometimes these methods lead to problems that are worse than the bedbugs themselves. Koehler advises against using flammable liquids, mothballs, treating mattresses with pesticides and using bug bombs.

Koehler’s cheap and pesticide-free version is effective and nearly foolproof.

“It’s really hard to mess this up to the point that you’d hurt anything,” he said.

Bedbugs are a big problem nationwide. An April 2013 survey by the National Pest Management Association showed that nearly every pest management professional, 99.6 percent, had encountered a bedbug infestation during the prior 12 months.

Nearly half, 49 percent, said infestations occur mostly in the summer, so bedbug season is nearly upon us. Because more people tend to travel and relocate during the summer, it’s possible more of them unknowingly bring bugs home or discover them soon after moving, according to the pest management group.

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Bedbugs are becoming more resistant to pesticides, entomologists warn. Treatments can run about $3,000 for a single-family home or $1,200 for a low-income apartment.

This simple and cheap-to-make trap means that nearly anyone can help to get rid of pesky bedbugs. Prepare to spend an afternoon making them, though. Koehler and his team estimate that a typical three-bedroom home would need about 50 traps to go under each leg of furniture — such as beds, sofas and chairs. The traps might not add much to your home’s décor, but at least they get the job done.

Photo: A bedbug prepares to bite its victim. Credit: Jiří Humpolíček, Wikimedia Commons