The Best Bed Bug Detectors Review: How to the Find Insects Before They Find You

As you know, it’s better to prevent a serious problem rather than to rack your brains over solving it. This is especially true for the issue of bed bugs. Unfortunately, most of us are familiar with these pests. Perhaps you have already had to throw out your favorite and comfy mattress infested by the bed bugs… They can reappear though in any house, apartment or office, so that’s why you’d better find and neutralize them than let them spoil your life and sound sleep.

Where Do Bed Bugs Come From?

It may seem that bed bugs come out of nowhere, but it’s not true. They can get to your house via different paths.

You attract them just like you attract any other blood-sucking insects. Bed bugs feed on warm blood and they specifically prefer human blood as it is the warmest of all and is abundant. In order to get to the source of blood, they settle in furniture and other objects, and crawl out of them at night to have a feast.

Potential places of bed bugs provenance include such public places as city transit or even cinemas where the chairs’ upholstery is soft, i.e. anywhere where there is furniture. This applies to places inhabited by people: hospitals, shelters and hostels. Don’t forget that they also can inhabit laundries or even schools. Bed bugs are small and flat and they can crawl into any crack in the furniture and get into your clothes or bag when you visit one of the above mentioned places, that is why they are often called hitchhikers. Once you bring them home, you’ll set off a time bomb and they will fill your entire house. They are so dangerous, that some schools cancelled classes because of a single bed bug case.

where do bed bugs come from

Here is an important fact: bed bugs were a big problem in the USA until 1940-50s, but the issue cased to be crucial in the last couple of decades with the life quality and hygiene habits improvement. Michael F. Potter, Extension Entomologist of University of Kentucky College of Agriculture expresses his opinion on why the bed bug threat has re-occurred in the USA: “Immigration and international travel have contributed to the resurgence of bed bugs in the U.S”.

The likelihood of bed bug infestation at home increases indeed if you just got back from a trip or if you’ve been hitchhiking (in this case you can easily get infested by fleas as well). In such a situation it is your suitcase that acts as a carrier of the pests into your house. As bed bugs love heat, you’re most likely to bring them from tropic countries especially from those where cleaning of the territories and accommodation leaves much to be desired.

Now, let’s get back to furniture, which is a favorite place to crawl in of these little crawling creatures.  Statistics of the Department of Entomology of University of Kentucky’s experts show that: “the most common areas for finding bed bugs were beds (mentioned by 85% of respondents), bedding (mentioned by 52%), furniture such as nightstands and dressers (26%), couches and chairs (25%)”. Over 37% of respondents have encountered these pests in baseboards and under the carpet sides, few of them have come across bed bugs in the walls, on the ceiling and in the clothes.

As you can see, the bed bugs are more attracted by a sofa or a bed with a mattress and especially the kind of furniture that is often neglected when cleaning: the mattress cases are barely washed, the upholstery isn’t cleaned properly either. However, the problem is not always in the brand-new furniture which you have once bought at IKEA or straight from the manufacturing works. Sometimes it is the vintage furniture bought from someone or rented that becomes a source of bed bugs. The risk is especially high if you don’t know how and by whom it was previously used. The same goes for secondary housing which may already be infested with the bed bugs.

how to detect bed bugs

In addition, bed bugs can crawl to you from your neighbors’ place, should their apartment be infested. Although these insects can neither fly nor jump, they can go without food for quite some time and they crawl rather fast. That is why they can easily over overcome the distance between your neighbors’ front door and yours one, as a hungry bed bug can crawl up to 20 (!) meters in search of the food.

As you can see, there are many places of bed bug provenance. That’s why you can’t be idle and wait to be bitten. You should have a clear understanding of bed bug signs so that you don’t miss the beginning of their hostile attack on your place.

How to Find Bed Bugs: the Clearest Bed Bug Signs

It’s time to talk about signs of life bed bugs show. Most of them, of course, are connected with bed bugs bites:

  • Bed bugs’ bites are red spots on any part of human body.
  • There are always trails of 2-3 bites in a row, a bed bug doesn’t suck all of the blood at once, it feeds on it gradually and bites several times.
  • Itching and redness almost always accompany these insects’ bites.

What is interesting is that almost every third person bitten doesn’t feel any uncomfortable sensations! We have also encountered an opinion that it is the newborns who attract the bed bugs most as their blood tastes specifically well for them. We don’t know whether the newborns are really bitten more often, but the bed bugs’ bites can be the actual cause of their constant crying because their skin is really sensitive.

If you are not sure, whether you or your child were bitten by a bed bug, a mosquito or someone else, we have drawn up a chart for you listing different insects’ bite signs so that you could identify the pest bothering you. 

Symptom/Insect

Bed Bug

Mosquito

Flea

The bite spot

Medium-sized stiff red swollen spots

Small red swollen spots

Small deep bites with a hole in its center, and a red areola around it. Some blisters are also found.

Where do they bite?

3-5 bites form a trail on any body part.

The bites are separate, spots can be found all over the body.

As a rule, 2-3 bites form a trail. Most often fleas bite feet and shins, less often they attack the upper body.

Timeline

Bed bugs are night insects so you’ll find the bites the morning after once you wake up.

Bites can appear at any time

Bites can appear at any time

Itching

Does not necessarily happen, but in any case doesn’t last long.

Intense, goes away relatively quickly.

Intense, goes away relatively quickly.

Other typical symptoms

Brownish stains on the bed sheets and under the mattresses which are the remains of the bed bugs you’ve accidentally crushed.

Mosquitoes squeak, bites are visible when skin starts to itch

Strong pain at the moment of the bite, the insect is not observed though.

Insect activity peak

The insects are active all year around

Activity peaks at the end of spring and during summer

Activity peaks at the end of summer

Apart from the bed bug bites, other signs of infestation include blood spots on the bed sheets and mattress as well as some black dots which are these insects’ feces.

Mind that these pests prefer wood and paper to metal and plastic, which is proven by the New York State IPM Program of Cornell University (Michael F. Potter, whom we have already quoted, adds fabric to this list as well). That is why you have to meticulously go through the wooden furniture frames, check the cracks, seams and hidden spots. But how do you find bed bugs in the mattress or soft upholstery?

Bed Bugs Detectors

Most often people understand that their house has been infected once they have already noticed the bites. So how do you find the bed bugs in this case? You can hire the exterminators who would bring a bed bug sniffing dog, but this is an expensive procedure. So you can try and solve the problem by yourself. We have tried our utmost to find the best bed bug detectors for you, but unfortunately there are few decent items out there.

Climbup Insect Interceptor Bed Bug Trap, 4c

Climbup Insect Interceptor Bed Bug Trap

Climbup stands for ~$12.88 are one of today’s best selling bed bug traps and detectors with the 4 stars out of 5 rating on Amazon.com. These are plastic round stands for your bed’s legs which contain two circles: an internal and an external one. Some talc powder can be found inside so that the pests cannot migrate between the circles or get outside.

With these things you’ll be able to understand the direction of pests’ moving, whether they come from the floor and furniture or vice versa, from your bed. If the infestation is external (mind that the bed bugs inhabit both the closets and floor cracks), they will get trapped in the external circle. In case they inhabit the bed and try to move along the bed legs, they will be trapped in the internal circle. This is why this product is not a mere detector, but also a full-scale bed bug trap.

Over 67% of customers are satisfied with Climbup Insect Interceptor and combine it with continuous bed bug elimination. They are also popular as a preventive measure used alongside with wearing the bed bug mattress encasement (by the way, we have covered the best ones in our 5 Best Bed Bug Mattress Protectors review). There are still some drawbacks as some say that the plastic stands can crack, so you should take care of them. Else, using these detectors will be pointless and the insects will crawl away even if the cracks are tiny. The stands are supposed to stand steadily and it is preferable to locate them right on the floor. People share from their experience that they rip when on the carpet.

By the way, some experienced users recommend you not to be in despair if you catch none of the bugs and to use the stands for at least a month. They also recommend others to “Purchase some diatomaceous earth to put in the spaces meant to trap the bugs rather than talc powder. This will ensure they not only are trapped, but die quickly (hopefully painfully)”. Read other helpful customers’ tips on Amazon.com.

Price: ~$12.88 Check the current price

By the way, there is another useful device for bed which can be used along with the interceptors by Climbup. We’re talking about Bed Bug Night Stick which contains 4 sticky corner traps for a bed for only from ~$19.95. We find it strange that they are not that popular yet. According to one of the consumer’s photos, this thing really works.

bed bug night stick

Rite Lite UGHBUG Bedbug Detector (Colors May Vary)

All in all, this is a questionable device. Its Amazon.com rating is only 2.6 stars out of 5 and only about 40% of the users are satisfied with it. However, this ~$12.97 has still made it to our list of the best bed bug detectors as the choice is actually too narrow.

Some users claim that Rite Lite Detector is a useful household device for examining the furniture, floors, kids’ toys and identifying the presence of bed bugs and lice on your children’s heads. It is small and portable so it’s comfortable to use anywhere, especially in the hotels. Others mention that they’ve been able to detect the fleas passed to them by their dogs with the help of this gadget. They recommend using it in dim light or even in the darkness and they advise us to be as attentive as possible: “This helped me find the baby bed bugs which are very hard to see in the naked eye because of their transparent color - but you must have patience to look around!”

bedbug detector

Negative reviews also exist, and people complain that the device was completely useless as they weren’t able to detect any bed bugs or other insects. Perhaps, there have been none of them? Opinions differ greatly, so it’s up to you to decide whether this detector deserves a chance.

Price: ~$12.97 Check the current price

Do Ultra Violet Bed Bug Detectors Work?

As you can see, there are few more or less useful bed bug detectors. If we check out the bed bug detector category in online stores, we’ll find lots of UV flashlights with long and promising names (they are supposed to do everything at once, including detecting the bed bugs), such as LingsFire® LED UV Ultra Violet Blacklight Pocket Flashlight for Spotting Scorpions and Bed Bugs, Counterfeits, A/C Leaks, Pet Stains, Counterfeit Money Detector and Detect Fluorescent Substance for ~$9.12.

how to detect bed bugs?

However, the scientists don’t attest successful UV bed bug detection. They only confirm effective use of specially trained dogs or regular flashlights. University of Minnesota scientists advise combining the flashlight, your credit card and sticky tape: “Use the flashlight and credit card to search out bed bugs by moving the card along cracks and crevices to push out the bugs. Use the sticky tape to trap the bugs”.

5 Helpful Tips for Preventing the Bed Bug Infestation

how to prevent bed bug infestation?

We have told you how to detect best bugs. Last but not least will be several important tips aimed at helping you save your house from infestation:

  1. When you purchase furniture make sure you examine it carefully (this is especially true for the mattresses which you’ll bring at home). Nowadays you have to check even brand new furniture and mattresses. Examine all of the cracks, seams and joints to see whether there are any beetles, larvae or fecal traces.
  2. When you, being a traveler, spend the night at a hotel, check the bed with a detector. The NY Health Department also recommends placing the suitcase on a luggage stand rather than on the floor or on the bed in your room. Keep the stand away from the walls and furniture in order to avoid the infestation. Upon your return home, wash all of the clothes and dry them well.
  3. As for your bedroom, don’t hang anything over the bed so that the bed bugs could not use it as a bridge. In this case they will surely bite you at night.
  4. Make sure you turn over the mattress once a quarter. This measure will help you prolong its life, as it will prevent its clogging and will help you identify bed bug life traces should there be any. Use the bed bugs mattress covers in order to prevent the pest infestation. Keep the encasement on for at least 12 months when treating an infested mattress.
  5. Our last extra tip is that if the bed bugs have still infested your place; don’t waste your time looking for effective products. We have already published a guide to eliminating these pests with the best measures and artificial chemicals. Also read our guide to picking the best bed bug killer.