Insecticide bombs ineffective against bedbugs

A new study finds that bug bombs or “foggers,” which have been sold for decades as a way to fight common household insects, may be ineffective against bedbugs.

This latest research, published in the Journal of Economic Entomology, is the first to recommend against using foggers for bedbug infestations based on scientific evidence.

"There has always been this perception and feedback from the pest-management industry that over-the-counter foggers are not effective against bed bugs and might make matters worse," Susan Jones, an urban entomologist at Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), said in a statement. "But up until now there has been no published data regarding the efficacy of foggers against bedbugs."

Jones and colleagues tested three different fogger brands on five different bedbug populations.  After three foggers, there were little – if any – adverse effects on the bedbugs.

The researchers speculated this is likely because bedbugs spend most of their time hiding under sheets and mattresses, or in cracks or crevices, so it is unlikely they’d be exposed to the insecticide mist from foggers.  In addition, many populations of bedbugs have some resistance to insecticides.

"These foggers don't penetrate in cracks and crevices where most bed bugs are hiding, so most of them will survive," Jones said. "If you use these products, you will not get the infestation under control, you will waste your money, and you will delay effective treatment of your infestation. Bed bugs are among the most difficult and expensive urban pests to control. It typically takes a professional to do it right. Also, the ineffective use of these products can lead to further resistance in insects."