Bag the bug

Slippery dog bowl better than bait chemicals at killing bed bugs

By Indu Mathi S
Published: Sunday 15 September 2013

bugsBED BUGS have pestered mankind since humans started dwelling in caves thousands of years ago. Since then, no part of the world has been spared by these tiny vampires that feed on blood. The pest was thought to have been eradicated in the 1940s but made a strong come back in the 1980s. Since then, bed bugs have given sleepless nights to many. Pest control companies have used several ways, from insecticides and traps to detection by dogs, for combating this blood-sucking menace. However the search for a simple, cheap and effective bed bug monitor continues. A new pit-fall trap developed by scientists from Rutgers University in the US, however, appears to be a viable bed bug solution.

“It is basically a plastic dish. Insects climb up the dish and fall inside and get trapped, therefore the dish serves as a pitfall trap,” says one of the authors, Changlu Wang, who is an entomologist at the department of entomology at Rutgers University. “In this study we used an inverted dog bowl as pitfall trap.

We placed fabric tape on exterior surfaces and a thin talc layer on inner surfaces to allow bed bugs to climb the wall. Once they fall inside, they cannot escape because of the slippery interior surface,” says Wang. He says the bugs trapped inside can be killed by dumping in the toilet or crushing.

The trap, described in a study published in Journal of Economic Entomology on August 6, can catch two to eight times more bedbugs than even the best insect interceptor trap available in the market, say the resear chers. They have also prepared a chemical lure, consisting of nonanal, 1-octen-3-ol, spearmint oil, and coriander Egyptian oil, which when used along with the trap can catch 2.2 times as many bed bugs as traps without a lure. To increase the effectiveness of the trap, the scientists used a sugar and yeast mixture. This produces carbon dioxide, which attracts bed bugs. Combined, the three elements make an effective and affordable bed bug monitor.

“The dog bowl will not pose danger to children or pets under normal use. The chemical lure is non-toxic to human and very little amount is used,” says Wang.

“The amount of CO2 generated from sugar-yeast mixture is equal to that released by one or two humans as they breathe. It will not reach a dangerously high level in a room.” He says the trap can be useful for trapping brown dog ticks, spiders, grain beetles, German cockroaches, and silverfish, too.

B K Tyagi, scientist and director incharge of the Centre for Research in Medical Entomology, Madurai says, “The method or tool developed by the authors is rather simple and is certainly carrying an edge over other methods in vogue. It is worth its price in trapping/controlling bedbugs that are a serious pest and concern to human health.”

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