Does UV light detect and kill bed bugs? Which UV lights are best?

Do UV Lights Detect and Kill Bed Bugs and Their Eggs?

does uv light detect and kill bed bugs
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Searching for bed bugs can be a time-consuming and difficult process. One of the best methods to find the insects and their eggs is the usage of UV light. Although this form of light will not kill bed bugs, it is definitely a handy tool to find them in your quest to track down the invisible bug. Since nymphs can have a light, translucent color, and bed bugs prefer darkness to feed undisturbed, UV light provides a great method for finding the bugs and killing them as you go.

Does UV light detect and kill bed bugs?

While UV light can be beneficial in both detecting and repelling bed bugs, light in and of itself will not kill bed bugs. A bed bug UV light makes detection much easier when you are searching for bed bugs.
UV light is concentrated from the sun and is a powerful tool to illuminate almost any living or non-living organism. This can be particularly useful if the lighting in your dwelling is dim or soft. Bed bugs spend most of their lives hiding in cracks and crevices and any dark area near their host such as the underside of furniture which is also where they lay and nurture their eggs. A bed bug UV detection light is a perfect tool to comb every area in your residence to find bed bugs.
Bed bugs are visible to the naked human eye, however, you can only spot the adults with basic vision as the nymphs have a clear appearance which helps them to go unnoticed. Bed bugs molt to larger sizes after each blood meal until they reach adulthood, so if you see adults, which are brown in color, the bugs have been feeding for weeks. An effective way to speed up the process of elimination would be to find and kill eggs and nymphs, which can be achieved using a bed bug UV detection light.

A UV light should be shined on any surface that bed bugs could infest, such as the mattress, the sides and underneath the box spring, the bed frame, the headboard, and any other free standing furniture. A bed bug UV light will spot any life stage of a bed bug and they will likely run away from the light when you shine it on them–have a strong contact insecticide on hand to spray them on sight. A bed bug UV light can also make checking cracks and voids easier than a regular flashlight.

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Can You Kill Bed Bugs with UV Light?

Although a UV light will make detecting bed bugs assured, you must understand that the light in and of itself will not kill them. Bed bugs prefer the darkness and will go to great lengths to avoid light at all costs–but there is no evidence to suggest that light will kill bed bugs.

A bed bug UV light would have to shine on the bugs for quite a long time to generate enough heat to kill them. Additionally, the light will make the bed bugs run away from it and you would need to collect them in a container to shine the light upon them to reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit in-order to kill them.

UV light detectors should only be used to detect bed bugs and the device will not kill them. A bed bug would have to be trapped and a bed bug UV light shined directly on it for a period of time for the temperature to become hot enough to kill it. Therefore, UV light is a perfect tool for detection and ineffective for killing bed bugs.

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Related Questions

Do Bed Bug Detectors Really Work?

There are multiple types of devices that detect bed bugs and one of the most effective is a bed bug UV light. The device is only as good as the work put into combing over every surface and all of its dimensions when searching for bed bugs.

You can easily see adult bed bugs with the naked eye, yet you will need a UV light to find the translucent nymphs and in some cases, the eggs. When inspecting a surface or a structure, shine the light in slow motion along every part of the structure, if you see nymphs or adults, squash them with a paper towel or spray them with a bed bug killer insecticide for bed bugs.

The best methods for killing bed bugs is to treat all furniture and cracks and crevices with a combination of contact and residual insecticides, bed bug powders, and heat that reaches at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If bed bugs are on the move and if you have started treatment against them, inspection is key to monitor the effectiveness of the treatment and a UV light will spot any live bugs in all their life stages. The lights are very effective for detection and can expose any small or deeply hidden bed bugs.

Do Bed Bugs Stay Away from Light?

It is a fact that bed bugs do not like light and will go to great lengths to avoid it at all costs. Bed bugs do not want to be seen and they also have limited visibility, which makes them very sensitive to bright light. While they do avoid light, it will not kill them nor will a light source prevent them from feeding.

Often times, it is difficult to find bed bugs in their preferred hiding spots and once they have been discovered or disturbed, they will increase their hiding methods even further. When bed bugs feed, it is almost always dark as we all tend to sleep in a pitch-black dark bedroom. They have evolved to like darkness and it decreases their chance of being detected. 

In extreme measures, bed bugs will venture out when it is daylight or when your residence is fully lite as they have to feed to survive and reproduce. For the most part, bed bugs will avoid light, but it must be understood that light will not kill them, only repel them.

Will a Lamp Keep me from Being Bitten?

Bed bugs prefer to dine on you when you are in a state of deep sleep. You may find that having your lamp on will keep the bugs away for a period of time – but this is not what is keeping them away, they are simply waiting for you to fall asleep. It is unfortunate that having a lamp on will likely help you fall asleep better, but it will not stop the bugs from feeding on you.

In Summary

UV light is a great tool in aiding your search for elusive bed bugs. The powerful rays of the light will illuminate bed bugs in all of their life stages and will confirm inspections that are searching for live bugs. When using a UV light to search for bed bugs, be sure and shine the light slowly along each and every surface to find live bugs.

While UV light is a great resource to detect bed bugs, it will not kill the bugs by simply shining upon them. It would require a great deal of work to capture bed bugs to isolate them and shine the light on the bugs to reach the temperatures required to kill them. Insecticides, powders, and heat are the only confirmed ways of killing bed bugs. Therefore, a bed bug UV detection light is a perfect tool for detection but not elimination.

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Mike Henderson
Mike Henderson

Mike is the editor at citypests.com and has a keen interest in providing pest control solutions for residential and commercial purposes. His main objective is to provide useful information that will help you tackle your pests successfully. For severe pest infestations you should always seek the help and advice from professional pest control services.

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