Do Bed Bug Detector Lights Work?

Prevention is better than a cure when it comes to any pest. It is far better to find and eliminate the bed bugs in your home on your own. Otherwise, the problem will fester to the point where you need to call in an extermination squad.

One of the options advertised is a good bed bug detector light. But do these lights actually work? And, more importantly, how well do they work? Those are the questions we are going to examine in this post. Read on to find out more.

Bed Bugs: An Overview

Many of us are not overly familiar with the little creatures known as bed bugs. Others are all too familiar with them, having had to dispose of their beloved, comfortable mattresses and pillows as a result of these critters.

Bed bugs can manifest themselves in pretty much any house, office, or apartment and wreak serious damage in all of them. They can even appear in public places like trains, cinemas, schools, hospitals, shelters, and laundromats. Pretty much any location that contains a live mammal (like a human) or bird is a potential target for bed bugs.

The critters are small and flat. This allows them to maneuver into any crack in a piece of furniture. It is also easy for them to get inside your bag or clothes when you enter any location where they can be found. Once in your house, they will rapidly start breeding, eventually reaching the point where your entire house will be infested.

Bed bugs are not as serious of a threat as they were 50 to 60 years ago, thanks to improvements in hygiene and lifestyle. They do seem to be experiencing a bit of a resurgence lately. This is mostly due to the increase in international travel and overseas immigration, though. Keep in mind that your luggage and the other items that you travel with are excellent potential bed bug carriers as well!

Bed bugs prefer to live near their food source. That is why the most common places to find them are beds, bedding (including pillows and quilts), and any surrounding furniture like dressers, nightstands, chairs, and sofas. You can also find them behind wallpaper and baseboards as well as in your clothing. Poorly washed or old furniture and bedding are more likely to serve as homes to bed bugs.

Detecting Bed Bugs: Reading the Signs

Now that you know the main places frequented by bed bugs, you need to know the signs that they are present in those areas. Often, the clearest signs can be found on you!

Bed bugs bite and their bites often result in red spots any exposed part of the body. They usually come in sets of multiple bites in a row or in a zigzag pattern.

Redness and itching generally accompany these bites. However, some people will not show any reaction to bed bug bites.

Some other signs of a bed bug infestation include spots of blood on your mattress or sheets, little black dots (which are actually the feces of the insect), eggs, and shed skin.

Bed Bug Detectors

That is all very well and good to know. But how do you find out where the bed bugs actually are hiding in your home? Knowing their whereabouts is essential to being able to eliminate them!

Again, rather than call in a pest control expert, which is expensive and time-consuming, you will probably want to solve this problem on your own.

The first problem is that bed bugs can be difficult to see with the naked eye. One option to help you could be a good bed bug detector light. These are small, portable devices that enable you to examine your furniture and upholstery for individual bed bugs. Even when using these lights, you still have to be very thorough and attentive to catch any bed bugs.

Bed Bug Detector Lights: Do They Work?

The first thing to note here is that bed bug detector lights are not actually anything special. They are typically just UV flashlights that have been rebranded and renamed to make them sound like something more specialized than they are. Of course, that alone does not mean that they will not work.

So, can black lights help you detect bed bugs?

Sure, they can. But do not take that as a recommendation. The basic principle that UV lights follow is that they emit ultraviolet light. The ultraviolet spectrum is invisible to the human eye, so even though it looks purple, the light itself is actually invisible. If you have a UV flashlight at home for pet urine or for any other purpose, feel free to use it to detect bed bugs as well.

Substances that contain phosphors can be fluorescent, which means that they absorb energy and re-emit it as visible light. When we shine a UV light on phosphors, they absorb that UV light and emit visible light back at us. That is why you can use UV light to detect bed bugs.

While there are not many studies on fluorescence in insects to look at, there are some like this one from Victoria L Welch.

In short, bed bugs, like many other insects, contain phosphors in their exoskeleton. This allows them to technically be fluorescent under black light.

One Trusted Bed Bug Removal Method

One tried and true method of removing bed bugs on your own is using a flashlight, a credit card, and some sticky tape.

Use the light and the credit card to dislodge bed bugs by sliding the edge of the card along the cracks and crevices in your furniture and mattresses to push the bugs out. Then use the sticky tape to catch any bugs that you flush out.


Bed bugs are a menace to your comfort and wellbeing. If not controlled from the outset, they will only get worse. Rather than having to call pest control to come out and remove them, most of us would prefer to deal with this problem in its earliest stages.

One means of doing so is with a bed bug detector light. The jury is still out on these lights since most of the products currently available have received very mixed reviews. Do not let that stop you from giving them a go, though, and reporting the results back to us!



I just got a black light so I can check for bed bugs. I see little specks of white in seems and even on clothes that have just been washed and dried. Is that bed bugs or what?


    Did they move? Those could be bed bugs, but it might as well be a dried up laundry detergent that didn’t wash out properly, due to some of them containing fluorescers to make the fabric brighter. It’s hard to tell from the info I have available on your comment.


I hauled my bed outside, vacuumed, then sprayed my bedroom and bedroom furniture with Crossfire four days ago, I have found at least three bugs a day for the last few days now, they crawl out from somewhere to the middle of the floor and die, have not found a live one since I sprayed. Crossfire works well. I made a c02 trap to test tonight, hopefully that’ll catch more. My UV light really lights up the eggs on the bed frame.


    Glad to hear that CrossFire worked for you! And I’d love to know how your test of the CO2 bed bug trap went!

Bill and Hunter

I would like to add my 2 cents worth regarding this article. It is very well written and the details are very accurate. I have been handling a bed bug scent detection K9 for 6 years and these are some things that I have learned along the way. First of all there are 3 types of bed bugs my K9 is able to detect and treatment can differ for each type. There’s the common bed bug (cimex lectularius) the bat bug (cimex adjunctus) and a tropical bed bug (cimex hemipterus).
All look very similar and takes a magnifier to see the differences. Apart from the common bed bug the bat bug can be continually brought back until the bat issue has been resolved. The tropical bed bug (found in Florida) can scale smooth surfaces which makes them able to overcome the typical bed bug volcano traps. So identification is important when treating. And I agree you need to nick it in the bud before you have an infestation. And please…if using an over the counter product such as DE for bed bugs this can be hazardous to pets if inhaled so be careful. Thank you.

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