Do glue traps work for bed bugs? [Hint: it depends]

Brown bed bug on pale green fabric background

Bug bugs. Don’t get me started. I had quite the experience with what I thought was most definitely bed bugs during my early days of Pest Pointers.

Glue traps will work to catch bed bugs. While glue traps will catch some bed bugs, they won’t cure the entire infestation. Unless you have one single bed bug that you brought home, glue traps will not capture all of the bed bugs in your home; they will only capture some.

So, should you still use glue traps? And just what the heck should you do if you actually do have bed bugs? Don’t worry; we’ve got your back (or bed, in this case.)

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Why glue traps will catch some bed bugs

Ok, so glue traps and bed bugs. My assumption here is that you may have seen a bed bug or two or suspect that you have bed bugs and have come to this article to see if glue traps are a solution.

If you aren’t absolutely sure if you have bed bugs, you may have something like carpet beetles (I had these and thought they were bed bugs initially)

Granted, let’s continue with the knowledge that you’re in the early process of detection here.

Glue traps, in essence, release a pheromone that attracts bed bugs. The glue is designed to keep the bugs held up in their place as they cross the trap. Once they’re stuck in the adhesive, there’s a slim chance they get out.

Glue traps are relatively small in size, about the size of a standard pencil box. It varies, of course, but this is for visualization.

The traps will catch bed bugs, but not all of them. This is because the bed bugs have a much more desired target living on top of their home, you.

Even if you get many different glue traps, the bugs won’t aimlessly smell the pheromone and all pile up one by one, not while they still have their primary feeding source available to them.

If you do have bed bugs, please solve the infestation ASAP. As the infestation goes on, bed bugs become significantly more challenging to get rid of. Call our nationwide network of exterminators, and we’ll connect you to a local pest control service in your area for free.

Why glue traps won’t catch all bed bugs

While glue traps will catch some bed bugs, they won’t catch all bed bugs. This is because the traps are primarily designed for early detection purposes (like the Harris Bed Bug Traps)

If anyone is attempting to tell you to use a glue trap over a professional pesticide treatment, they’re big-time wrong.

Picture this scenario:

You just got back from the airport and got your luggage from the terminal. A long trip (maybe from Maui?) and you’re tired and exhausted.

You finally get back to your home, and you set your suitcase down in your living room and decide you’re going to take a shower and get to bed, and revisit this whole “unpacking my luggage” thing later.

You leave your luggage sitting there on your living room floor and get to it in the next day or two.

About a month or two later, you notice that you have a few red bites on your body. You aren’t sure where they’re coming from, but do some online research and figure out that you might have bed bugs.

You see, bed bugs actually can crawl into luggage, especially if you stayed at a resort that could have had a secret infestation from a past tenant.

Nevertheless, you’re worried that you’ve got bed bugs from your last hotel. You’ve got the bites to prove it, but you’re struggling to identify the other warning signs.

So, your next course of action is to use an early detection glue trap and see if you actually have bed bugs, or maybe it’s something else.

Here’s how you can still use glue traps on bed bugs effectively

Surprisingly, it’s actually super common for people to have bed bugs tag along on their luggage from their last trip.

The good news is, even if you’re struggling to identify just what the heck is biting you, or if you even have bed bugs, glue traps can go a long way in helping you to solve that problem.

You can get a glue trap as the Harris Trap mentioned above, or you can use a glue-free alternative like EcoPest Labs Bed Bug Blocker Pro.

I actually own a pair of the EcoPest Labs blocker, and while I never caught any bed bugs (which I ended up not having), I was confident that if I did have the issue that these would stop and detect them.

Essentially though, you’re going to want to follow the package-specific directions for each product you get, but glue traps work but placing them at the feet of your mattress where bed bugs and most likely to come into contact with them.

Remember, bed bugs live in your mattress and feed off of you.

So by placing the glue traps at the feet of your mattress, you’ll be more than likely able to catch a few of them and be able to detect them before your infestation gets too wild.

The EcoPest Labs Bed Bug Blocker Pro works in a similar fashion. The blockers get placed underneath the feet of your bed and make it virtually impossible for bed bugs, or other crawlers, for that matter, to make it up to your mattress.

Cleaning Mattress With Long Nosed Vaccum

How to determine if you need to use glue traps for bed bugs

If you have a bad infestation, do not use glue traps.

If you know that you have bed bugs, you need to immediately contact a qualified professional. You can use our nationwide partner network of exterminators, and we’ll connect you to a local professional in your area for free in seconds.

If you’re still in the early stage of “do I have bed bugs?” and you don’t see any other warning signs (spots on the mattress, bites at night, and others), then yes, you should use glue traps to see if you have bed bugs before calling an exterminator.

If you do see warning signs of bed bugs, such as splotches on your mattress under your top sheet, then you should contact a professional for treatment.

Be wary of the extra fees they charge. In my early days, I made the mistake of calling a national pest control chain to do an inspection for a fee, only for them to find nothing. It turns out I had Carpet Beetles, but they wouldn’t do an examination for that as well.

To sum that up: If you think you have bed bugs but don’t see warning signs, use a glue trap. If you see warning signs of bed bugs, call an exterminator immediately.

Going a little bit deeper on this, some of the early signs of bed bugs include those infamous dark red stains on your mattress from the bed bugs being crushed while on the mattress and “shells” (usually a light yellowish color) that are shed once a bed bug grows older and more significant.

More than likely, you’ll notice these signs the next time you wash your sheets if you actually have bed bugs and if you haven’t gotten bitten yet.

What you should do if you have a bed bug infestation

I can’t say this enough; bed bugs are indeed no joke. Once bed bugs multiply, they can take over your home and be that much more challenging to get rid of.

They have the ability to move from mattress to mattress and can take up residence throughout your entire home if not dealt with properly.

That’s why early detection is absolutely crucial in preventing bed bugs and getting rid of them.

Once you detect that you actually HAVE bed bugs, then you should very much so let a professional handle the rest of the infestation afterward.

The longer the infestation is allowed to persist, the more bed bugs you’ll have and the more difficult (and expensive) they’ll be to get rid of, no matter how many glue traps you use.


Vaidyanathan, R., & Feldlaufer, M. F. (2013). Bed bug detection: current technologies and future directions. The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene, 88(4), 619-625.

Hottel, B. A., Pereira, R. M., Gezan, S. A., & Koehler, P. G. (2019). Sticky trap design considerations for entrapping bed bugs. Insects, 10(6), 177.

Myles, T. G. (2003). Bed bugs in Toronto. Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto.

Liu, B., Pennington-Gray, L., & Klemmer, L. (2015). Using social media in hotel crisis management: the case of bed bugs. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology.

Pfiester, M., Koehler, P. G., & Pereira, R. M. (2008). Ability of bed bug-detecting canines to locate live bed bugs and viable bed bug eggs. Journal of economic entomology, 101(4), 1389-1396.

Potter, M. F. (2011). The history of bed bug management. Am. Entomol, 57, 14-25.

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