Bed Bug Bombs: Trick or Treat? Bed bugs are by far and away, the most difficult pest that we have to deal with today

Termite Inspection Orange County Termite Terry Pest Control

Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, South Orange County, Long Beach Area

Bed Bug Bombs: Trick or Treat?

    Over the past decade, bed bugs have become a horrible problem in the United States. Bed bugs are temporary ectoparisites that feed exclusively on blood from humans and other warm blooded animals. They are nocturnal and like to live in cracks and crevices. If you have a problem with bed bugs in a home, you’ll usually find them located in mattresses and headboards. That is because they like living near their hosts so they don’t have to go very far for a “blood meal” (Eew!).

    “Bug Bombs” (total-release foggers) are being marketed for the control of many types of crawling and flying insects. These are commonly available to the public in many different stores. In 2010, the EPA estimated that 50 million of these foggers are used in the U.S., annually. Consumers often use these bug bombs as a low-cost alternative to professional pest control services.

    Read the product labels and you’ll find that most bug bombs contain pyrethrins, pyrethroids, or both as active ingredients. Bug bombs have an aerosol propellant and act by broadcasting an insecticide mist throughout a room.

    To use one of these bug bombs, the directions will tell you to shake the can and position it on a table or stand in the center of a room. You activate it by depressing or removing a tab, located on top of the can. Everyone and their pets need to vacate the area during the treatment, which usually takes 2 hours. The aerosol insecticide droplets are rapidly released upwards into the airspace and will gradually settle onto exposed surfaces.

    Bug bombs are not generally recommended for control of house hold pests for these reasons:

  1. They do not penetrate well into pest harborage sites where insects hide.
  2. The broadcast/fogging application leaves pesticide residue on exposed surfaces and objects (Yucky!).
  3. They contain aerosol propellants that may be flammable, such as butane or propane (Every year, a lot of homes catch fire or are blown up by these devices!)

    There is no published data regarding the efficacy of bug bombs against bed bugs. The only studies that were available pertained to the German roach and the cat flea. That is why the researchers at the University of Ohio decided to evaluate these bug bombs against recently collected bed bugs as well as a long term laboratory strain (these were originally collected from Ft. Dix, New Jersey in 1973) to gain insights into the efficacy of these over the counter products.

    The study was conducted in three rooms in a vacant office building, located on the Ohio State University campus. Three brands of over the counter bug bombs were used in the study and all purchased from a nationwide retailer.

    Five populations of bed bugs were collected from residences in Columbus, Ohio. They used these because they wanted to study the effects of bed bug bombs on the real types of bed bugs that we all have to deal with on a daily basis.

    It is a pretty well known fact that many of our “current” insect populations have become immune to pyrethrins and pyrethroids over the past couple of decades (Pyrethrins are derived from chrysanthemum flowers. Pyrethroids are man made/synthesized versions of pyrethrins). And, since these products are no longer as effective as they used to be, the researcher tested these products on a “pyrethroid-susceptible” population which was collected back in 1973. These were named the “Harlan” strain.

    During the tests, bed bugs were either placed in open petri dishes, or in petri dishes provisioned with a paper disc so that the bed bugs could hide under it for protection.

The Results:

    Field collected bed bugs showed little, if any, adverse effects after 2 hours of direct exposure to these 3 products. The only exception was one of the field collected populations which had significant mortality (after 5-7 days) when they were left out in the open and were exposed to one certain brand of product. However, this particular product was not effective on this same population if the bed bugs were able to hide under a paper disc.

    Even the “Harlan” strain, which is susceptible to pyrethroids, was unaffected if the bed bugs were covered with a thin layer of cloth.

    Ohio State’s study provides the first scientific data supporting the position that bed bug bombs should not be recommended for control of bed bugs. The study also provides strong evidence that these 3 major brands of bug bombs are ineffective as bed bug control agents.

    Termite Terry says, “Bed bugs are by far and away, the most difficult pest that we have to deal with today. If you have a problem with these pests, this is no time to fool around with “do-it- yourself” products. If you needed surgery, you wouldn’t go online and try doing that yourself, would you? Well, bed bugs should be taken just as seriously. That is because if you let these pests become established, you are going to inherit yourself a gory nightmare.”

    Do you have a problem with bed bugs? Call our office at (949) 631-7348 or use our online order form and we’ll schedule a thorough inspection for you. Please note that we do charge for these inspections because they are so labor intensive. However, if you do need service, we will be happy to apply the inspection fee toward the costs of your treatment.

    We also wanted to remind everyone that Termite Terry has written a special report titled “Everything You Need To Know About Bed Bugs”. This normally sells for $29.95, but all friends and customers of Termite Terry Pest Control can log on at www.termiteterry.com and download their own copy, FREE!

    The next time you’re at a store and one of the clerks suggests that you use one of these bug bombs, please say, “Trick or Treat!” 🙂