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Friday, October 26, 2012

The "Missouri Method" of Bedbug Control

The “Missouri Method”
December 16, 2012
Joel Z. Williams

Bedbugs will soon develop a total resistance to the primary pesticide currently being used by modern pest control operators (PCOs) all over the world. These families of toxins are called Pyrethroids and PCOs spray them everyday all over the world as their primary frontline chemical to eradicate bedbugs. Ironically, Pyrethroids are extracted from the petals of the common garden flower known as chrysanthemums. How weird is it that mums can kills bedbugs? The problem is that bedbugs have gradually begun building a tolerance to Pyrethroids. I call this dilemma the “Williams Peak” P=Bd-R/T(E) Q². That is the day that I predict all bedbugs will no longer be vulnerable to any Pyrethroid-based pesticide. According the Entomological Society of America (ESA), some bedbugs in Virginia are already showing signs of complete resistance. However, according to my calculations the “Williams Peak” is still 3 years, 9 months and 28 days from today.

What in the world are we going to do once we hit the “Williams Peak”?

The “Missouri Method” of bedbug control is a safe, non-toxic way to use ordinary household items to create a long-lasting bedbug lure and trap combination. By using these instructions, in conjunction with watching the associated YouTube videos, an average person can build an inexpensive trap which utilizes carbon dioxide (CO2) to lure bedbugs into a pitfall from which they cannot escape. Here is a list of the components and tools required to build a trap which conforms with the “Missouri Method”.
   Packets of Dry, Active Yeast
  Granulated Sugar
  Empty 2-liter soda bottle
 Small measuring cup
  Plastic trash bag
  Pair of scissors
Talcum powder, or Diatomaceous Earth
 Piece of cloth fabric, or paper towel
 Porcelain bowl, or suitable substitute
 Rubber band or string.

How the “Missouri Method” works.

Bedbugs have two weaknesses which are easy to exploit. They are a blood obligate insect, which means they require a blood meal in order to progress to their next molt (one of six stages of growth wherein they shed their exoskeleton and grow a new, larger one.) Unlike cockroaches, or other similar insects, bedbugs can’t “make due” and feed on other substances when their primary food sources are unavailable.  That means that they are always on the prowl for a host to provide them with a blood meal.

Another critical chink in the bedbug’s armor is that they are essentially blind. Bedbugs compensate for that lack of vision by relying heavily on their exceptional ability to sense even the smallest presence of a variety of chemicals diffused in the air near them. One such chemical smell that bedbugs are particularly sensitive to is carbon-dioxide (CO2). Bedbug sensitivity to CO2 actually makes sense from a survival point of view, because every warm-blooded mammal produces CO2 as a waste by-product of respiration (breathing).

Using the knowledge that bedbugs are blind and dependant on blood, I have developed a method that takes advantage of those weaknesses and exploits those traits to lure them to their deaths. The “Missouri Method” CO2 Trap actually consists of two major components: a lure which constantly emits high concentrations of CO2, and a trap, or pitfall, which imprisons the bedbugs and prevents their escape as they are overwhelmed by CO2 gas in such high concentrations that they essentially asphyxiate.  The CO2 flooding out of the lure into the trap dissipates the oxygen around the trapped bedbug, thus preventing the bedbugs from normal respiration via their exoskeletons. The trapped bedbugs die a slow, agonizing death as they futility scramble about the smooth surface of the trap attempting to escape toxic levels of CO2.

The Lure:

Begin by “proofing” approximately two teaspoons, of dry- activated yeast by pouring it into a small measuring cup containing a 50/50 mix of granulated sugar and lukewarm water. Set this aside and allow the mixture a period of at least ten minutes to proof.  You will know that this is ready when you begin to see a lot of bubbles forming at the top of the mixture. This smaller “proof shot” will kick start the fermentation process when you introduce it later to the much larger lure container.  Now, get to work on your lure by preparing an empty two-liter bottle with a screw-type plastic cap. Remove the plastic bottle cap and cut a small hole into the center of the cap by using a sharp, pointed-tipped knife. Pour approximately two cups of granulated sugar into the two-liter bottle, using a funnel. Add lukewarm water until the sugar and water fill about 2/3rds of the bottle. Replace the cap, place your finger over the hole in the cap and shake the bottle vigorously for several seconds, until all of the sugar has dissolved into the water. Set that aside and take out your scissors and trash bag. Find a corner of the trash bag and use the scissors to cut out a “hood” about one foot in length. Place this circular piece of plastic to the side.

The Trap:

Select a porcelain bowl with nearly vertical sides. Place a piece of cloth or a paper towel around the bowl and then secure it to where the fabric, or paper, meets flush with the top lip of the bowl. Make certain that this seam is tight. There should be no gap between the fabric, or paper towel, and the lip of the bowl. Take care to trim any loose strings which may be dangling down into the bowl and thus providing the bedbugs an escape ladder. Coat the interior of the bowl with a dusting of either talcum powder or diatomaceous earth.

Bringing it all together:

Place the assembled lure into the trap (put the two-liter bottle, right-side up, into the center of the bowl). Remove the cap from the bottle. Place your funnel into the neck of the bottle and pour in the measuring cup containing your “proofed” yeast, sugar, water mixture. Remove the funnel from the bottle and set it aside. Replace the cap onto the bottle then hang your cut sheet of plastic down over the cap of the two-liter bottle. Remember, the purpose of the plastic “shroud” is to redirect the CO2 emitted from the top of the bottle downward into the bowl. With that in mind, allow the plastic shroud to drape loosely over the sides of the bottle, and then secure it in place with either a loose fitting rubber band or loosely tied piece of string. It is important not to fit the plastic shroud too closely to the bottle. Too snug a fit will prevent the CO2 gas from getting down into the lure where it is most lethal to the bedbugs.

End of Part 1 of the "Missouri Method":

Place your assembled bedbug lure/trap on the ground near your bed. This device should emit CO2 gas for approximately 3-4 weeks if mixed properly. The perfect harmony of yeast, water and sugar will take some time for you to perfect. When done properly, it is possible to get 5-6 weeks of continuous fermentation action. Examine the bubbles in the lure. The continued production of bubbles is a good indicator that the yeast is still fermenting the sugar, and the trap is still emitting CO2.

“The Missouri Method” Step 2- Mattress Encasement Using Dry Ice (frozen carbon-dioxide).


Contrary to popular belief, bedbugs don’t normally live in your sheets. Instead, they prefer to live in a hive-like gathering known as bedbug harborages  These are usually located within 3 meters of their host. No one is really certain why bedbugs prefer to live communally within those harborages. It is my hypothesis that bedbugs congregate within the harborages because of their extremely poor vision. I think the bedbug has adopted the hive mentality as a defensive survival strategy against predators such as birds, lizards, and other insects. Nonetheless, they like to group together, often squeezed into tight spaces with their bodies touching each other.

Although bedbugs are virtually blind, they have excellent scent receptors that enable them to “smell” CO2 from over 20 meters away. Bedbugs also use those scent receptors to locate other bedbugs by sensing pheromones excreted in feces. This is why a mattress within a bedbug infested dwelling will have the telltale dark-brown vertical stains on it, running from the box spring to the person sleeping on top of the mattress. Bedbugs create those lines as they follow each other to and from their hosts in a single-file line, marking their trail as they ascend to their host, then retreating back down to the harborage using the same route.

Weaknesses in the bedbug’s strategy:
If you were to examine a bedbug under a microscope you would see that they have sharp barbed hairs on their limbs, but especially on their forearms. Bedbugs use these stiff bristles to hook into the sides of mattresses and pull themselves up, and along your sheets. Imagine the sharp pick-axes mountain climbers use while ascending icy peaks. Mountain climbers first drive those pick-axes into the slippery ice, and then they use the leverage of the handles to haul themselves upwards. This method is very similar to how bedbugs ascend to you along your mattress and sheets while you’re sleeping. Now that we know how bedbugs climb, we can use that knowledge to deny them an ascension platform.

The idea behind the mattress encasement component of the “Missouri Method” is simple: You are going to trap the bedbugs currently living within your mattresses under a sheet of thick plastic, then you are going to introduce a pound of dry ice into that sealed mattress which will overtoxify and kill any bedbug caught within the sheeting as the dry ice melts and returns to its normal gaseous state.  

Required Materials:
One roll of Painter’s Plastic Sheeting.
One roll of Duct Tape.
One pair of safety goggles, or other suitable eye protection.
One pair of thick gloves.
Three pounds of Dry Ice (frozen CO2).
One sewing needle (the smaller the better).

First, stand your mattresses on end, and lean them against the wall. Begin wrapping each mattress in the plastic sheeting until both are completely covered. If you have only enough plastic to encase only one mattress, choose the box spring. Use duct tape to seal any seams. With both the mattress and the box spring of your bed completely encased in plastic sheeting, now examine them both closely to ensure that all of the seams are completely sealed with duct tape. You should spend at least 5 minutes during this inspection. Look carefully over every seam to ensure a thoroughly encased mattress set.
Once you are completely certain that both your mattress and box spring are properly sealed then take a razor knife and cut a small slit into the sealed plastic on both mattresses. These slits do not need to be big, just wide enough to allow you to insert the dry ice through the plastic and on top of the mattress.

SAFETY WARNING: dry ice is extremely cold, usually below -109 degrees Fahrenheit. It can harm you if not handled properly.  Prior to handling the dry ice, put on a pair of safety goggles, or other eye-protection, and wear a pair of thick gloves to cover your hands. Now, insert your dry ice through the slit, then reseal the hole using a few strips of duct tape. Take your sewing needle and poke 3-5 holes in the plastic sheeting to allow the excess CO2 to escape. There, you have it. You have just completed the second component of the “Missouri Method” of mattress encasement using CO2.

 Tips and Tricks:
I prefer to use clear plastic sheeting that is at least 4mm in thickness. The 4mm stuff is tough and thick, so it’s not easy to tear if you’re a rough sleeper. Although you can use several heavy duty lawn and leaf trash bags in a pinch, I don’t recommend it. I also prefer the clear plastic rather than the black or gray versions because I think it’s easier to spot seam gaps in the clear sheeting, not to mention the perverse thrill you will get from watching the bedbugs slowly asphyxiate from the CO2 as they try to escape. (worth every penny).
The encasement portion of the “Missouri Method” will also work for any other piece of furniture. One pound of dry ice will become about 8cu. fl. of CO2 once it sublimates (melts). The requirements specified in this method call for 3 pounds of dry ice, which costs about $5.00, and is intended for an average queen-sized mattress 54x75x8. Your experiences may vary depending on the size of your particular piece of furniture.

I hope my “Missouri Method” helps combat your bedbug problem, and if you have any questions or comments please post them to this site. Also, be sure to watch my YouTube videos to gain more tips and tricks on how to construct this device and learn other useful bedbug information.  Simply use any search engine and type in: “How poor people can fight bedbugs” and you should find my videos.

Thank you for your time. My name is Joel Z. Williams; the Poor People’s Advocate. You will recognize me by my white hat, but you will know me by my virtuous ways.