Bed Bug NightWatch for Library Trucks

An active bed bug trap and monitoring device, the NightWatch, will be deployed this month and placed for overnight monitoring in InterLINK delivery trucks for the lower mainland’s 18 member library systems.

Possible Spread Of Bed Bugs

Public Library InterLINK circulates five million items annually throughout the lower mainland’s libraries, ranging between Lillooet, Chilliwack, Hope and Sechelt. These delivery trucks could unintentional transport hitch-hiking bed bugs between branches and contribute to the spread of bed bug infestations.  Earlier this fall, there were four bed bug related incidents involving Burnaby, New Westminster and Vancouver library branches. The Vancouver Public Library has confirmed 13 bed bug incidents over two and a half years involving six libraries.

Attract, Trap and Kill Bed Bugs

The NightWatch was released in the US in 2008.  In 2009, a malfunctioning CO2 sensor produced a product recall involving 1,500 units. Since the correction of the malfunctioning piece, the product has proven itself as a useful tool to confirm and monitor a bed bug infestation and as a trap to kill bed bugs [Wang, Tsai, Cooper and White 2011].

According to the manufacturer, the product was designed upon:

two key bed bug physiologies - their great sense of smell and their sensitive thermal sensors…The Monitor emits CO2 every 5 seconds mimicking the breathing rate of a sleeping person…The NightWatch lure, when heated, produce an infrared image of blood simulating the mottled heat signature of a living being. Natural host-odour attractants are activated by the heat of the thermal lure and evaporate into the CO2 plume. Bed bugs follow the CO2 and odour plume until they detect the thermal lure. In trying to reach the lure, they climb up the felt covered ramp of the pit fall traps. Once inside the traps the gentle warmth slowly dries them out.

Enticing Bed Bug Cocktail

Michael Burris, Executive Director of InerLINK, plans to purchase the $345 NightWatch units for placement in the trucks each night.  It is planned the three part attractant system of carbon dioxide, pheromones and heat, will provide a enticing cocktail to lure bed bugs from their hiding spots among the truck’s contents – such as books, DVDs, magazines, etc.  Come morning if the NightWatch has attracted and trapped bed bugs, bed bug dogs will be utilized to pinpoint the source within the truck’s contents.  The affected items would then be heat treated to kill any remaining bed bugs and bed bug eggs.

The Tool Must Match The Conditions

The NightWatch, like any tool, performs best under certain conditions.  Modify the conditions and results are impacted. 

  • The NightWatch was designed for installation in a 4.9 m X 4.9 m (16 ft X 16 ft) room - the overall size of the truck box relative to the number of monitors utilized is vital
  • It was planned for placement under or beside a bed – a truck box at full or even half-full capacity may be detrimental, plus the placement of the monitor is important to allow the bed bugs access
  • For optimal results the makers of NightWatch (BioSensory) recommend monitoring for bed bugs for a minimum of seven nights and preferably for fourteen days.  A study of the “Effectiveness of Bed Bug Monitors for Detecting and Trapping Bed Bugs in Apartments” [Wang, Tsai, Cooper, and White 2011] found a  one-day deployment of the NightWatch identified a significant lower number of infestations compared with visual inspections
  • The NightWatch is based on an active hunger drive of the bed bug – a single night most likely will not stimulate recently fed bed bugs to seek out additional nutrition [Usinger 1966, Reinhardt 2010]
  • It was intended for indoor use - the internal temperature of the truck boxes on  cold winter nights may be a factor as bed bug activity is slowed by colder temperatures
  • The NightWatch is 100% ineffective to detect bed bug eggs, and lastly
  • The NightWatch was outperformed by three other monitors when deployed in a low infestation situation [Wang et al. 2011] and it is reasonable to assume library materials are not heavily infested.

Do these factors negate the use of the NightWatch to monitor these distribution channels? No they do not, as long as these variables are considered in the overall evaluation. At a cost of $345 per monitor, it is a worthwhile venture to conduct a controlled study and determine their overall potential as an early bed bug detection system for the libraries trucks.

Integrated Bed Bug Management Plan

Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to find and kill and every tool is important providing it is deployed with the best possible chance for success and as part of an overall integrated bed bug managment plan. Burnaby library staff have received a two-hour training session on bed bug detection and reporting procedures as well as how to avoid hitch-hikers. Their heightened awareness in combination with deployment of bed bug monitors can be effective tools as part of a pro-active bed bug management plan.

The most effective and efficient tool in an integrated bed bug management plan is a bed bug inspection by properly trained and maintained bed bug dogs to detect bed bug infestations – whether in a library, store, taxi, hotel room or apartment. For an independent Vancouver bed bug dog, call Bed Bug Mutts (604) 460-0124.