How to Properly Use Glue Traps for Insects (and Risks)

Dark-winged fungus gnats and white flies are stuck on a yellow sticky trap. Whiteflies trapped and Sciaridae fly sticky in a trap.Professional pest control is the best way to keep your property free of pests. Pest control companies, like ExtermPRO, have access to industry-grade, eco-friendly pesticides and training to help them deliver extensive protection that benefits your entire property. But many people do like to try to get rid of pests on their own with DIY pest control methods.

When it comes to DIY extermination methods for pests on your property, you have a number of options available to you. One of those options is sticky traps. This is a type of glue trap composed of a cardboard backing covered with a layer of glue. The glue is sticky enough that when an insect touches it, the glue will hold them in place permanently and prevent them from entering your property.

There are several benefits to using sticky traps to get rid of bugs:

  • They are non toxic.
  • They are relatively easy to use with a largely set it and forget it approach.
  • They can capture a lot of bugs when properly placed in the home.

But in order to have the best results with glue traps, it is important to know when and how to use them. There are also a number of risks that you should be aware of so you can avoid any negative consequences if you set up glue traps around your home and yard.

Which Pests Can Sticky Traps Catch

One of the features that makes sticky traps so successful against bugs is that they are largely indiscriminate in the types of bugs that they catch. If you have a sticky trap set up, any big that flies or crawls onto it will get caught against the glue and be exterminated. This can be helpful since it provides a single solution even when you are dealing with many types of bugs.

This does mean the traps also will potentially catch other beneficial bugs as well, which can be a problem for your overall pest management strategy and make sticky traps a less environmentally friendly solution. That is why sticky traps are solely for indoor use (where even beneficial bugs become problems). We’ll talk about that more later in the guide.

Placed properly, glue traps for bugs will capture a variety of different insects, including:

  • Cockroaches
  • Ants
  • Beetles
  • Centipedes
  • Spiders
  • Earwigs
  • Mites
  • Flies
  • Hornets
  • Wasps
  • Gnats

There are some glue traps, that are made for generic pests. Those typically go on the floor. There are also glue traps made for flying pests that are typically designed to target a specific insect, like flies.

Although the names sticky trap and glue trap can be used interchangeably to refer to this type of bug trap, there is a slight difference between them. Sticky traps generally have a thinner piece of cardboard and a lighter weight glue that makes them suitable for insects, which tend to be smaller and need less force to hold them on the glueboard.

Glue traps will often be more robust. These traps are primarily designed to work against larger pests like mice and rats because the glue is more powerful. A rodent glue trap will work to capture insects as well, but should be used with greater caution. It is not ideal to catch rodents in glue traps. Some rodents will survive by biting off their legs, resulting in a “gross” mess of blood. Rats and mice that die in the traps will also smell. It is also a crueler approach, as the pests typically starve to death, and also more dangerous, because the rodent may be alive when you try to handle the trap.

But for insects and spiders, glue traps are not considered inhumane and will not leave any unwanted mess. They are a useful way to eliminate pests.

Types of Insect Glue Board Traps Available

There are a few different types of sticky traps on the market and choosing the right one is essential to being able to catch the type of pest you are specifically dealing with. The main options include:

  • Tent Sticky Traps – These sticky traps are for crawling insects. The cardboard folds into a tent-like structure that covers the bottom glueboard. Openings at either end, allow crawling pests to get onto the glue board while the tent pieces help keep dust and other animals off the trap.
  • Hanging Sticky Traps – Hanging glue traps are for catching flying insects. They have a single flat glue board that you hang with a string so it dangles freely in the air. These traps are most often used in garden and agricultural settings and will work best against flying garden pests.
  • Sticky Traps on Stakes – You can insert sticky traps on stakes directly into the soil of potted plants or gardens where they can help catch flying pests. They are available in different shapes such as rectangles, cutouts, and loops.
  • Rat and Mouse Glue Board Traps – These heavier duty glue traps can be either a flat piece of cardboard or a tent shaped trap. The size depends on whether it is designed for mice or rats with rats needing larger boards due to their size.

Among the different trap types, there may be other options available depending on the product you choose. Some traps that have pesticide mixed in with the glue to help kill insects faster or have a scent that will attract bugs to the glue trap.

Colors can also vary depending on the product. The majority of outdoor glue traps for insects are yellow since that is the most attractive color for many bugs, but many indoor traps will be white. Outdoor traps will also often have gridlines since they are predominantly used to monitor pests numbers and the grid makes for easier counting.

Glue traps with and without all of these features can work equally well. What is important is to buy either a trap that will go on the floor or a hanging one depending on whether you have crawling or flying pests.

How to Place Insect Sticky Traps to Get Rid of Bugs Indoors

When you are trying to exterminate insects in your home with a glue trap, the number of traps you have and the placement is key. This increases the chances that bugs will come into contact with the glue traps, allowing them to be caught.

Before you purchase your sticky traps, observe your bug problem. Notice what types of pests you are dealing with and what areas in your home their activity is concentrated in. These areas will be where you set out the majority of your traps.

The recommended spacing is one glue trap every 5 to 10 feet. Set your sticky traps according to the manufacturer directions on the trap, while also taking into account the following guidelines on placement:

  • Place Traps on Pest Pathways – Most pests travel by the corners of a property, or in areas that are hidden from view. This means that good places for sticky traps include along baseboards, corners of rooms, behind appliances, inside cabinets, under furniture, and near trash cans. Use your own observations to further guide your placement.
  • Keep Areas Free of Dust – Dust particles will stick to the glue trap and make it ineffective against insects. Before you place a trap, give the area a thorough cleaning and keep things clean as long as the trap is in place. If you have an area that is generally always dusty, you may need a different insect control solution.
  • Choose Enclosed Areas – In outdoor spaces, sticky traps can catch garden pests and outdoor insect. But you should limit their use to enclosed areas, such as greenhouses, garages, sheds, and enclosed porches. In exposed outdoor areas, there are generally too many bugs and too little control over them to make glue traps a viable option. You are also more likely to capture beneficial bugs.
  • Watch for Children and Pets – Although sticky traps are usually non-toxic, it is still best to keep children and pets away from them. This prevents them from being disturbed and having your pest control efforts interrupted. The scent of glue or any substances to attract bugs can tempt a dog to eat a trap, which can make them sick.

After you place your glue traps, you will want to check them regularly. If traps have amassed a significant number of bugs or are starting to look dusty, trade them out for a new clean track. This will keep your traps working as effectively as possible as you eliminate bugs.

Managing Expectations with Insect Sticky Traps

Sticky traps are one of the easiest options to use for getting rid of bugs, but it is important to also understand their limitations. The first is that sticky traps are often not effective for getting rid of an insect infestation entirely on their own. The chances that a glue trap will catch every insect is slim and many pests that sticky traps are aimed at, like flies, roaches, and others, can breed faster than a sticky trap will catch them. Some pests, like spiders, also travel up walls and through cracks and may not come into contact with the traps.

This is the reason that glue traps are typically not the only pest control method that a household should use. Sticky traps are best used in combination with professional pest control. Professional pest control creates a barrier that will kill pests that come into contact with the solution. But:

  • Some pests may still find their way in. Glue traps can trap them so there is even less likely of a pest coming indoors.
  • Pesticides do not kill pests immediately. Glue traps can catch insects as they’re dying to prevent them from expiring inside of your home.

On their own, glue traps are not a replacement for ongoing pest control. Not every insect will crawl over them, and you are unlikely to have enough in your home to prevent them all. Despite these limitations, glue traps can still be a valuable component of your pest control strategy in the following ways:

  • Working Alongside Chemical-Based Pest Control – If you are using active pest control solutions such as applying pest control treatments to affected areas, glue traps can provide a passive method that works alongside pest treatments to help eliminate an infestation more quickly.
  • Insect Tracking – Sticky traps can help you determine where insects are and what kinds of insects are present by giving you a sample of the pests in your space. You can put sticky traps in different areas around your home. If certain traps catch more pests than others, this is a good indicator that these are the areas in which you should focus your pest treatment, or possibly consider hiring a pest exclusion contractor to seal up nearby entrance points.
  • Monitoring Pests – If you do not currently have a pest infestation, a sticky trap can be a good way to monitor for future infestations by hanging or laying sticky traps where they can be relatively permanently placed and switched out when necessary. When you notice an increase in the insect caught in your trap, you can contact an exterminator.

Sticky traps are such a powerful monitoring tool that they are frequently used in agriculture and gardening. Growers set them up in greenhouses and grow tents to check insect activity. Instead of getting rid of bugs, the sticky traps are more often used to provide guidance on what additional pest control may be needed.

Risks When Using Sticky Traps to Manage Insects

Sticky traps are advertised as a safe and often pesticide-free solution for exterminating insects. This is true for the most part, but like any pest control strategy, sticky traps have some risk involved in their use:

  • Risks to People and Pets – Because sticky traps are designed to sit out in the open, there is an increased chance that pets and other animals will come into contact with them. Insect sticky traps are often too weak to capture an animal or person, but glue traps designed for rodents are powerful enough to stick to a person or pet, which can be a painful and alarming experience. If you or your pet is stuck to a glue trap, mineral oil or WD-40 can help release the glue.
  • Sticky Traps will Catch All Insects – While some pest control methods can be focused on a specific pest, sticky traps will catch everything, including beneficial insects like honeybees, spiders, ladybugs, and others. For this reason you should be particularly careful about where you use them and turn to means if beneficial insects are in the area. This is one of the reasons that outdoor use is not recommended.
  • Danger to Wildlife – When using them outside, sticky traps can capture wildlife like lizards, snakes, squirrels, and other rodents, particularly when using strong glue traps. This causes a slow and painful death. Inside, sticky traps can capture lizards, snakes, and rodents that may find their way indoors.

Because of risks to wildlife and the means of death for rodents caught in glue traps, these traps are not considered a humane method of mouse and rat control. If you are going to use sticky traps and want to prevent any deaths, be certain to use sticky traps in areas where mammals and reptiles cannot get to them.

Planning Your Pest Control Strategy with Sticky Traps

As you lay out your pest control pest control strategy, sticky traps can be a valid means of managing pests, but you need to be honest about what your current situation is and what you are trying to accomplish with sticky traps.
Too often, homeowners will invest an extensive amount of money in purchasing sticky traps and a lot of time in placing them around their homes, all for them to have little effect against a larger infestation. Yet at other times, monitoring sticky traps can provide valuable information about pest activity in your home, but only if you know what to do with that information.

In each of these cases, it is helpful to work with a pest control company to be sure that you are implementing the most effective methods for your pest control problem. They can advise you on whether or not insect sticky traps are useful in your situation and how best to use them. Professional pest control can also provide other effective solutions where necessary.

For homeowners in Northern Virginia, including those in Gainesville, Haymarket, Bristow, and the surrounding cities, ExtermPRO can provide optimal solutions for any insect or rodent problem you have at your home. Whether you are looking for ways to deal with a current infestation or prevent bug problems in the future, we offer dependable and affordable solutions to get rid of pests while taking advantage of all of the available options.