The bedbug cure THEY don’t want you to know about

BedbugIt’s hard to convey the paranoia we flea-marketing, curb-side-spotting, Craigslisting folk feel about bedbugs—with good reason. Now is prime paranoia time: we’re having too many guests over (at various stages of cleanliness), cranking up our heaters and (if we’re lucky) signing January 1st leases. Not only are the bugs a major itch in the butt, but they can end up costing a butt-load too. Most exterminators will try to charge between $50 and $200 to inspect your place (or they’ll do it free and work their up-sell). So, whether you’re looking at new places to live or suspicious of your unwashed neighbors, it’s definitely worth $15 to try out the latest DIY detection system (courtesy of Wired Magazine), before calling in the pricey pros.

The low-budget detection device is the brainchild of Rutgers University’s Wan-Tien Tsai, and the highly scientific instrument requires a 1/3 gallon insulated jug (check camping and sporting stores), a plastic cat food dish, some paper and talcum powder and 2.5 pounds of dry ice. Put the ice in the jug, the jug in the dish, and make a paper entry ramp up into the talcum-coated dish. The bugs will flock.

The little blood suckers are attracted to higher temperatures, which usually moves them toward a 98.6 degree feast (heat sources are a great place to check for the first sign of infestation, as are sofas, beds, and electrical outlets). But with brains the size of a speck, bedbugs are also instinctively drawn to another indication of animals: carbon dioxide.

Hence, the dry ice. The stuff is just solid carbon dioxide, which “melts” into its gaseous form (all right, Dr. Science, the process is called ‘sublimation’). The parasites are drawn toward the gas, and get caught in the cat food dish (thanks, talcum powder). This patent-not-pending design, which usually lasts about 11 hours (at room temperature), has proven to be as or more effective than professional kits, the Wired article says.

The trickiest part of the whole thing might be getting your hands on the dry ice, as not all supermarkets carry it. Ice cream makers use it, so try persuading your nearby confectioner to let you in on their stock. You also can order from online suppliers like this. Or, you can schlep down McDonald Avenue and buy some from New York Ice Cream Co. (1241 McDonald Ave., at Ave. J) for $10.

And if the test is positive? Life isn’t over—the best thing you could have done was find out ASAP.

11 Comment

  • How clever. Yes, it sounds like that might work. Thanks for the tip.

    http://carynsolly.com/bedbugs

  • Wouldn’t it be dangerous to allow your apartment to fill up with CO2 for 11 hours?

  • Casey and Faye, I think it’s CO (carbon monoxide) that’s poisonous, not CO2 (carbon dioxide).

  • they use dry ice for children’s haunted houses.

    while i’m not saying you should inhale it straight for hours, you’ll notice the sublimation from the dry ice (that cool fog stuff) is heavier than the air you’re breathing, and will dissipate to a harmless level, provided you don’t live in an airtight closet.

    and Caryn- you’re right. those detectors are for CO with one O (monoxide). CO2 ain’t fantastic for you, but it’s safe enough (if you’re breathing, there’s some in front of your face right now).

  • This is not a cure, just a method of detection.

  • did not work at all. We made the trap the way it was described in the article. No one bedbug get to the container:(. Unfortunately I know that we have bedbugs. Article said that bedbugs like warm temperature. Why will they come to the cold ice?

  • This title of article is very misleading. Nowhere in this article did I find a CURE for bedbugs. It was a waste of my time to read it. Very disappointing. It should be titled “Do You Have Bedbugs” or “How To Check For Bedbugs”

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  • This article’s suggestion is a great way to detect if you have the bugs, but might not catch them all. The only SAFE way to get rid on an infestation is to rent a freezer truck (the kind they use to transport frozen foods in) and put literally everything you own into it for 2 days. While that’s going on, drain all your plumbing pipes and then rent freezers to freeze the entire apartment to get all the ones hiding in the cracks & behind walls. Otherwise they’ll just keep coming back. And every apartment in the building has to do this at the same time or else they’ll just move back in. There’s no way to 100% seal your apartment from them sneaking in. Note: SPRAYING toxic chemicals DOES NOT WORK – and you & your animals will suffer; pesticides are Neurotoxic.