How to Detect Bed Bugs for About $11

Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.

This post is sponsored by Ortho Home Defense, but all opinions and bug-a-phobias are my own.

I don’t write very frequently about my various travel related fears largely because I don’t usually let those fears stop me from just using common sense and pressing forward, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have them. Not only do I get nervous on planes from time to time, but I occasionally worry about inadvertently bringing home bed bugs from hotels we visit along the way. I am extremely sensitive to bug bites of all shapes and sizes, so the last thing I would want is to bring home the beginnings of a bed bug infestation to our home.

Thanks to using hotel points and jumping on travel deals, we typically stay at nicer hotels that have the resources to hopefully have a solid bed bug mitigation plan in place, but no hotel is totally immune from dealing with a bed bug problem. In fact, if you go to some of the online bed bug registries such as and the Bedbug Registry, you can find complaints even on hotels that I have personally stayed at and written about here more than once. An online bed bug complaint doesn’t have to mean that the hotel actually had bed bugs, or still has bed bugs, but sometimes where there is smoke there is fire…or in this case, blood sucking bugs.

Again, I don’t obsess over this, but it is sometimes in the back of my head when I stay somewhere, especially if I am staying a big, busy city with high density hotels such as Las Vegas or New York City. Those are the sort of high density, high turnover, big hotel populations that are more prone to bed bug problems than others.

We recently had a family trip to a very big city, New York City, and so it was perfect timing that Ortho reached out to me about their new product, the Ortho Home Defense Bed Bug Trap a couple weeks before our trip. At first I was a bit taken aback at the idea of writing about anything related to bed bugs since it is a little outside my normal scope. However, once I thought about it, I realized a relatively inexpensive product that can detect bed bugs is actually something that those who travel a ton really may want to know about. I know I hadn’t heard of it before they reached out to me.

We received the Ortho Bed Bug Trap just before our NYC trip, and I was happy that it was small enough to stash anywhere in our bag, as the two-pack had two traps that were each about the size of a deck of playing cards.

To put the trap into use to see if your hotel room or home has bed bugs, you peel the glue card and place it on the back of the trap. Next, you press the top circular button until it clicks to release the pheromone that lures the bed bugs.

You can then place the trap under your bed and in less than an hour it will detect bed bugs, if present. You can also leave it under your bed for two weeks, occasionally taking a peek through the viewing window as shown below and cross your fingers that you don’t see any bed bugs hanging out. Bed bugs are flat, oval, reddish-brown, and about a ¼ inch long. If you do unfortunately spot a bed bug, you can shut the trap to show it to the hotel or just safely throw it away.

We were in two different hotels on our trip to New York, so we used one trap from the pack at each hotel. I didn’t expect to run into bed bugs either time, and thankfully we didn’t. That said, my husband did get a random bite or two on the second day of the trip. When he started working himself up thinking he might have encountered bed bugs, I reminded him the trap didn’t detect anything. Knowing it didn’t lure any bed bugs helped us feel more at ease about a random bite or two that was likely just a run of the mill bug from Central Park, rather than proof of a full blown bed bug problem.

Obviously a great complement to the Ortho Home Defense Bed Bug Trap is simply using your own eyes and pulling back the sheets to examine the hotel’s mattress and box springs for bed bugs, but I’ll be honest and say that while that is a good suggestion, I just don’t always want to do that. In fact, I pretty much never do that.

If you are potentially interested in having a bed bug trap at the ready to help put your mind at ease or provide proof that there is indeed a problem, the pack of two traps costs $11.99 from major retailers or it is currently available for a bit more on Amazon.

In the unfortunate event you ever do have a bed bug problem, Ortho also has a line of bed bug treatment products… which I very much hope I never have to use myself. If you ever need it, you can learn more about their products and other bed bug treatment tips such as how to property wash, vacuum, and clean impacted areas on their website.

If you are even remotely like me, bed bugs are the sort of thing you probably don’t want to think about, much less ever have to deal with. However, just in case you ever do find yourself in need of such things, now you know one place to find them.

At the risk of getting a serious case of the creeps, have bed bugs ever been an issue on your travels? If so, how did you handle it?

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.



  1. My husband thinks I’m crazy because I pack a small flashlight and use it to check every mattress, every time.
    It is routine for my family to wheel their luggage into the bathroom (tile floor) and wait until I finish checking under the sheets, under the mattress and in the mattress seams for bugs.
    They hate it, but I’ve had to deal with two girls with lice once and almost had to be committed (two of the worst weeks of my life). Bed bugs would be so much worse.
    And I too, feel that because we change hotel rooms so frequently, there is s good statistical probability we might encounter it sooner or later. This may be a good back up to my personal check.

    • Yes to the lice. I battled that with my oldest daughter a couple years ago and it was so bad. We are terrified of a repeat. Very good on you for being so proactive!

    • I do the same thing. When the kids were younger, my husband would keep them in the lobby or car until I gave the all clear. I’ve had three friends who have battled bed bugs- and they are all just casual travelers (family vacations). Two left them at the hotel and didn’t bring them home, thankfully (Orlando & Pigeon Forge). The hotels responded well with sending out all their clothing for cleaning and disposing of suitcases. The other didn’t realize she had them until weeks later after they were home from a trip to Nashville. It was a real pain and very expensive to treat! Two hotels were popular midlevel properties and one was a high end hotel.

  2. This is a really cool gadget! I don’t trust how nice the hotels are as I was staying at an upper scale Marriott in Dallas where the rate was upward of $250 a night. And low and behold there was a bedbug just hanging out walking around the pillow area! I trapped it for the staff to see. They didn’t seem overly apologetic, but they did take some money off the room rate. They also moved us to another room.

    • For sure – nice does not protect you from bed bugs…it just makes it more likely they have resources in place to deal with them…hopefully. That would freak me out for sure!

  3. On our recent trip to Italy we woke up early to a few of them in our bed (even though I checked upon check-in). My wife had some bites that showed up a few days later. It was the last hotel before an early flight back to the states so we had to think about it the whole 20 hour trip home. We got home late, stripped off clothes, separated and bagged the clothing so that we could use high heat dryers at the laundromat and dry clean the rest. We threw out quite a bit as well. A few weeks of worrying and checking our house but we haven’t found any signs of the pests. Complaints to the hotel were dismissed as bugs escaping the heat of Naples in the summer. This trap will definitely be in our bag for the next trip. Thanks for sharing.

  4. We had a four-year battle with getting bedbugs rid from our home about 20 years ago…before everyone knew about and talked about them. It was a nightmare. I can’t even begin to estimate how much bedding and furniture we had to throw out before our ordeal was over. Now bedbug removal has turned into big business. Avoid at all costs. They are persistent, sneaky and hell to get rid of.

      • We tried to use over the counter Ortho products after we brought them home from a trip. We were unsuccessful after spending hours and days and hundreds of dollars. We finally called an expert and paid $800.00 and lots of time bagging all the clothes. But after 3 visits they were gone. I still have scars from all the bites I got

    • You right about the BEDBUGS we had them but this lady told use to us Eucalyptus oil and 90% alcohol that will kills them spray your house every month to keep them always

  5. Thanks for writing about these bedbug detection traps. I just purchased some. I ran into bedbugs at a motel about 3 years ago. Fortunately I did not bring them home. I had over 50 bites and as one of the 1 in 3 people who is sensitive to them, I developed red welts around the bites. Now I consider myself to be the “Canary in the Mine” – if on a multi night stay, I don’t get any welts, I know that room is bedbug free.

  6. Unfortunately I jad to experience these little critters. I recently move and hired a moving company. The only bed that was taken with us was my sons because we had just had it for a week. Everything thing else was being bought and delivered to the new house.. Long story short, a few weeks later he started getting bumps(bug bites) on him so first thing i thought was bed beds since he was thr only one getting them. Sure enough he had them all in the lining of his bed.. I freaked out….. But non the less i did research and got rid of them for about $10. (Yes i said $10). Simply by using wintergreen alcohol and tee tree oil.I took EVERY THING apart and sprayed it with the alcohol. (Since bed begs are made of mostly liquid it dries them out and kills them. I tried the bed beg sprays from home depot and walmart, but the smell it unbearable. It works as well but i dont want that chemical smell considering my son has asthma.. Anywho……. As I was saying. I took eveything apart sprayed it with alcohol, took all his clothes out thr drawes and closet and washed them nirmally but added the tee tree oil.(I did the spray twicw a week for 5 weeks in case there were any eggs left to hatch). Now we are 3 months post begs and i havent seen any yet. I know that was a long story, but I hope it helps someone reading this.

  7. Thank you for the home remedy…wintergreen alcohol & tea tree oil.
    I have no bed bugs, but the next time I change the linens, I will spray my mattress with the alcohol, since I have a bottle of it.

  8. Thank you for your post. I keep a bottle of wintergreen alcohol for minor first aid issues.
    I don’t have bed bugs, but plan on spraying my mattress & box’s print with it very soon, as family member is visiting for a week.

  9. Sounds like a great product. I’ve used Hotshot bedbug and flea spray (the purple can) and Arm and Hammer carpet powder (they don’t like baking powder) two times a week and shut off the room overnight. So far it’s been ok and I’ve not seen any more bugs…

  10. We live in a apartment dwelling where several units have already been treated for bed bugs. We are currently waiting for our unit to be inspected. l haven’t seen any of tbe critters around. And no one has any bite marks on them. lt is just the three of us that live in our unit. We do have a lot of stuff in bags and boxes. Will we have to get rid of everything including our photos on the walls? Our furniture? our bed? l am at my wits end. Can a person be evicted for this? Also does a person has to inform there employers and employees that you have bed bugs?

  11. The only thing I find unsettling about the article is that they did not find any. To be sure the product actually works and not just another marketing scheme. Especially when it comes to the pheromone game. That is proven inconsistent throughout the years using it for other insects.
    Not that I would want any hotel to have bed bugs. Maybe use this product in an atmosphere of known bed bug activity to get a true product analysis.
    Bed bugs are a serious concer. And I have witness spending hundreds of dollars on their own than having to call a professional.

  12. Just bought a new house six months ago and the previous owners left us with a terrible bed bug infestation. We found out the first night we moved in, had over 50 bites between me, my wife and my daughter. It was a complete nightmare that cost around 3k to fix. The only way to make sure they’re gone is heat treatment, and they had to come back three times. I bought many houses and never considered having this inspected. Lessoned learned. I would highly recommended having this be part of your inspection. The emotional/physiological part of the experience was even worse than the physical part. Thanks for sharing this product, I’ll be buying it.

  13. I nice free method of finding bed bug is to take a bowl of water and float a tealight in there and hope the bugs are atracted to the candle and get stuck in the water

    I tried this it attracted a lot of bugs (fleas I think) not any bed bugs though.

    National Geographic says a yeast mixture is the best way to detect them though.

    I would be very wary of thinking any trap could prove that there are no bedbugs in the room in a single night it seems that these traps take time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *