Testing the Bedbug Beacon Bed Bug Monitor
An easy way to detect bed bugs.
Every few months I travel for business. The upside and downside to running this site is that I've become extra paranoid when it comes to bed bugs. When I check into a hotel, the first thing I do is set up my suitcase on the luggage rack in the bathroom. Then I get out a flashlight and inspect the bed, furniture and drapes. I check again during my stay and then again when I leave. In short, I follow the suggestions I wrote in Bed Bug Protection Tips for Travel. (And yes, my friends and family tease me about it frequently.)
To go a step further I bought a Bedbug Beacon CO2 monitor a while back. I wanted something that would serve as an early warning system in case I brought anything back from these trips. And I recently got a chance to put it to the test.
I just got back from a trip to Arizona. I didn't find any bed bugs on the trip but I set up the Bedbug Beacon after I got back home just to be on the safe side. I figured I'd share my experience with it here.
What You Get
You might be worried that the package the Bedbug Beacon ships in is going to scream "I HAVE BED BUGS!" on all sides. Don't worry -- it's just a plain brown box. The kit itself comes in a smaller white box with no markings. Inside you'll find the various parts of the kit:
- Paper funnel
- Dropper bottle filled with oil
- Large squeeze bottle
- Bed bug well
- Plastic hose
- Several packets of CO2 production mix
How it Works
The Bedbug Beacon is dead simple. The finished monitor consists of a well, a hose and a bottle.
Assembly is easy. You remove the well cover, drop a little oil into the bottom of the well and then snap the cover back on. Then you mix two different packets of powder with some water in the squeeze bottle. Run the hose between the bottle and the well, place it where you want to monitor and you're done.
The solution in the bottle blows a small, steady stream of CO2 through the hose and into the well. The CO2 attracts bed bugs. The outside of the well is rough and the inside is smooth. So bed bugs will climb up the rough side, slip into the smooth side and then get stuck in the oil.
The CO2 mixture lasts about 5 days. When it's exhausted, you just clean the monitor's various parts with soap and water and it's ready to go again.
The instructions tell you to make sure the ambient temperature is at least 70 degrees. I don't remember reading that anywhere before I bought the monitor but it's important. The monitor might not produce enough CO2 if the temperature is too low.
Ease of Use
It took me about 5 minutes to set the Bedbug Beacon up. The instructions are simply laid out on a single sheet of paper. They're well written and easy to follow. You'd have a hard time getting things wrong.
The manufacturer claims the unit is safe around pets. I didn't see anything to suggest otherwise. I have two cats. They sniffed it like they would any other new thing in the home and then they ignored it.
Did I Find any Bed Bugs?
I did not. The temperature was always at least 70 degrees in my apartment. On top of that, I did not stay at home several nights during the course of running the monitor. I left it in the bedroom with the door closed, so there were no nearby competing sources of CO2.
I did have a little scare when I found a bug in there. It was tiny which made it hard to identify. I thought it might be a bed bug nymph. I managed to take a picture of it with a macro lens and identify it though.
A little digging reveals it to be a psocid, also known as booklice. Sometimes booklice are confused with bed bug nymphs even by professionals. The two are distinctly different though.
This is a solid product. My only real beef after using it is with the pricing. Maybe the mixture used to create the CO2 gas is expensive. I don't know. Other than that, there can't be more than $5 worth of materials here. The markup seems a bit steep.
The company suggests using 3 bed bug monitors for a 16 x 16 room. I have a hard time justifying that cost. If I have a high suspicion of bed bugs -- for instance, if I find signs of bed bugs but no live bugs -- I'll have somebody come in with a bed bug detection dog. They're immediate and have a high degree of accuracy. (Obviously if I find signs of bed bugs and live bed bugs I'm going to call an exterminator.)
If my suspicions aren't that high though, the Bedbug Beacon is ideal. It is safe, simple, relatively inexpensive (given the alternatives) and reusable. I'll continue to use it when I get back from trips.
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