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Bed Bug Bombs and Foggers: Do They Work? (Research Backed)

Macro shot of a bed bug

Bed bug infestations can be a nightmare for any homeowner. They are notoriously difficult to eliminate, often requiring professional help. Bed bug bombs, also known as foggers, are one solution that many people turn to in the hope of eradicating these pests.

These products are designed to fill rooms with insecticides that kill bed bugs on contact. They are widely available and relatively inexpensive, making them sound like an attractive option for those dealing with an infestation. However, it’s essential to understand how they work and their effectiveness before deciding to use them.

In the past decade, many researches have come out that have questioned the efficacy of bed bug bombs. And so, in this article, I’ll go over everything you need to know about bed bug bombs and whether you should consider them at the first sign of a bed bug infestation.

What are Bed Bug Bombs?

Bed bug bombs, also known as bed bug foggers, are a type of pesticide product designed to control and eliminate bed bug infestations. These devices work by releasing a fog of insecticide into the air, which then settles onto surfaces and kills bed bugs on contact.

Man in protective suit using bed bug bombs

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The concept behind bed bug bombs is similar to that of a traditional bug bomb or fogger used for other types of pests. The device is activated in an enclosed space, and the pesticide is dispersed in a mist or fog. This fog penetrates into cracks, crevices, and other hiding places where bed bugs are likely to be found.

Bed bug bombs often contain pyrethroids, a common type of insecticide that affects the nervous system of bed bugs and other insects. Some may also contain other chemicals designed to increase their effectiveness, such as insect growth regulators which prevent bed bugs from reaching maturity and reproducing.

Do Foggers Kill Bed Bugs?

Yes and no.

While foggers, commonly referred to as bed bug bombs, can kill bed bugs, they are not always the most effective solution.

There are several reasons why foggers may not fully eradicate a bed bug infestation. In recent years, there have been several class action lawsuits filed against manufacturers of bed bug bombs or foggers. These legal actions stem from claims that these products are ineffective in eliminating bed bug infestations, contrary to the promises made on their labels and in their marketing materials.

In fact, a study released by Ohio State University demonstrated that foggers have little effect on bed bugs, even after direct exposure for two or more hours. In certain situations, they made the problem worse by scattering and going to adjacent apartments or bedrooms.

One of the most notable cases was filed against the makers of a popular brand of bed bug fogger. The plaintiffs alleged that despite using the product as directed, their bed bug problems persisted. They contended that the company’s claims of being able to “kill bed bugs on contact” and “provide residual control” were misleading and false.

In another case, a group of consumers sued a different manufacturer, alleging that their fogger not only failed to eradicate bed bugs but also caused property damage due to its flammable ingredients. These lawsuits highlight the growing concern over the efficacy and safety of bed bug bombs.

Professional pest control worker with bed bug bomb

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While these lawsuits are still ongoing, they have already had a significant impact on the pest control industry. Many experts now advise against using foggers for bed bug infestations, citing research that shows these products may not reach the areas where bed bugs hide.

Instead, they recommend integrated pest management strategies that combine various methods, such as heat treatment, pesticide application, and preventative measures.

Why Bed Bug Foggers Fail

Bed bug foggers are often seen as a convenient solution to a bed bug infestation. However, they are not always successful, and there are several reasons why they fail to eradicate these pesky pests.

1. Limited Penetration

One of the primary reasons why bed bug foggers fail is their limited penetration capabilities. Bed bugs are notoriously good at hiding in small, hard-to-reach areas. They can burrow deep into mattress seams, nestle into the cracks in furniture, and even hide behind wallpaper.

Man using flashlight for bed bugs underneath mattress

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Bed bug bombs release a fog of pesticide into the air, which then settles on exposed surfaces. While this may kill any bugs out in the open, it doesn’t effectively penetrate into the hidden crevices where many bed bugs reside.

2. Resistance

Another significant reason why bed bug foggers fail to eradicate these pests completely is the rising resistance among bed bugs to various insecticides used in these products.

Over the years, bed bugs have evolved and developed a strong resistance to many common pesticides, including those used in bed bug bombs.

This resistance is primarily due to the overuse and misuse of these chemicals over a long period. When these foggers are used repeatedly, bed bugs that survive the initial treatment can develop a tolerance to the chemicals.

Macro shot of a bed bug

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These resistant bugs then reproduce, creating a new generation of bed bugs that are even more difficult to kill with the same chemicals.

Plus, many bed bug bombs use a type of pesticide known as pyrethroids. While pyrethroids were once highly effective against bed bugs, many populations have now developed resistance to them.

This resistance makes these foggers significantly less effective than they once were.

3. Eggs And Larvae

Another major reason why bed bug foggers fail is their inability to effectively exterminate bed bug eggs and larvae. These life stages of bed bugs present a significant challenge in pest control.

Bed bug eggs are tiny, about the size of a pinhead, and are often laid in hidden, hard-to-reach areas. They are coated with a sticky substance that allows them to adhere to surfaces, making them even more difficult to dislodge or destroy.

Eggs and larvae of bed bugs

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Moreover, the egg stage is resistant to many forms of pest control, including most chemicals used in foggers. This resistance allows eggs to survive treatment and hatch, leading to a resurgence of the infestation.

Similarly, larvae or bed bug nymphs are also hard to eliminate. They are smaller than adult bed bugs and can hide in even tinier cracks and crevices. Moreover, they can survive without feeding for longer periods, making them less likely to come into contact with the insecticide.

4. Incorrect Application

Another significant reason why bed bug foggers often fail is due to incorrect application. Many people assume that using more foggers or setting them off in close proximity will increase their effectiveness. However, this is a common misconception and can even be dangerous.

Firstly, it’s important to understand that bed bug bombs release a pesticide mist into the air, which then settles onto surfaces. If the fogger is not placed correctly, this mist may not reach the areas where bed bugs are hiding.

For instance, bed bugs often reside in cracks, crevices, and under furniture, areas that may not be effectively reached by the fogger if it’s not properly positioned.

Plus, many people fail to follow the instructions on the fogger’s label. This can lead to misuse and reduced effectiveness.

6. Overreliance On Foggers

Another significant reason why bed bug foggers fail is due to the overreliance on them as the sole method of pest control.

Using a bed bug fogger on bed

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It’s important to understand that foggers are not the magic bullet for bed bug infestations. They are just one tool in the arsenal of pest control methods and should be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

7. Chemical Selection

The effectiveness of bed bug bombs largely depends on the type of chemicals used. Not all foggers use the same active ingredients, and some may be more potent against bed bugs than others.

In many cases, foggers use a class of pesticides known as pyrethroids or pyrethrins, which are synthetic versions of a natural insecticide found in chrysanthemum flowers.

However, a significant problem with these chemicals is that many bed bug populations have developed resistance to them over time.

This resistance means that while the fogger may kill a portion of the bed bug population, it will likely not eliminate the infestation entirely.

8. Safety Concerns

While bed bug bombs may seem like an effective solution to a bed bug infestation, it’s essential to consider the safety concerns associated with their use. One of the major risks is the potential for harmful exposure to pesticides.

These foggers disperse pesticide particles in the air, which can be inhaled by humans and pets, causing health problems such as respiratory distress, nausea, vomiting, and even seizures in severe cases.

Closeup view of a bed bug fogger in a bedroom

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Moreover, the misuse of these foggers can lead to fires or explosions. Since the foggers work by releasing a fog of insecticide into the air, if the fog comes into contact with a heat source like an open flame or a running electrical appliance, it can ignite, causing a fire or explosion.

Plus, there’s the risk of pesticide residue. After the fogger has done its job, it leaves behind a residue of pesticide on surfaces and objects in the home. This residue can be harmful, especially to children and pets who may touch these surfaces and then their mouths or faces.

Also, the improper disposal of used foggers can pose environmental hazards. If not disposed of correctly, the leftover pesticide in the canisters can contaminate the soil and water sources, posing a risk to wildlife and the environment.

The Health Risks of Using a Fogger

While foggers, or bed bug bombs, may seem like an easy solution to a bed bug infestation, it’s important to be aware of the potential health risks associated with their use.

These products release a fine mist of pesticides into the air, which can then be inhaled by anyone in the vicinity.

The chemicals used in foggers are designed to kill pests, but they can also have harmful effects on humans and pets. Exposure to these chemicals can cause a range of health problems, from minor irritations to serious conditions.

A little girl using an asthma machine in her bed

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  • Respiratory Distress: One of the most common health risks associated with foggers is respiratory distress. This can range from mild symptoms like coughing and wheezing, to more severe conditions like asthma attacks. People with pre-existing respiratory conditions are particularly at risk.
  • Skin and Eye Irritation: The chemicals in foggers can cause rashes, itching, and redness on the skin. If they come into contact with the eyes, they can cause burning, redness, and even temporary blindness.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: Ingesting the chemicals from a fogger can lead to nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. This is a particular risk for children and pets, who may not understand the dangers of these products.
  • Neurological Conditions: In rare cases, exposure to the chemicals in foggers can lead to serious neurological conditions. Symptoms can include dizziness, seizures, and even loss of consciousness.

Alternative Bed Bug Treatments

While bed bug bombs or foggers may seem like an easy solution, their efficacy is questionable, and they pose health risks. And so, it’s important to explore alternative bed bug treatments that are safer and more effective.

Professional Pest Control

One of the most reliable methods of dealing with a bed bug infestation is to hire a professional pest control service. These experts have the necessary training, experience, and equipment to handle the infestation.

They use a variety of methods, including heat treatment and insecticide application, to ensure the complete extermination of bed bugs, including eggs and larvae.

Heat Treatment

Bed bugs are highly susceptible to heat. Therefore, heat treatment is one of the most effective methods to eliminate them. This process involves raising the temperature in the infested area to levels that bed bugs cannot survive. H

owever, it’s essential to maintain the temperature at a specific level for a certain period. Therefore, it’s advisable to hire professionals to perform this treatment.

Use of Encasements

Bed bug-proof encasements for mattresses and box springs can help manage an infestation. These encasements are designed to trap bed bugs inside, preventing them from feeding and causing them to eventually die.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

IPM is a comprehensive approach that combines a variety of methods to control bed bugs effectively.

It involves inspection, monitoring, use of physical methods like vacuuming and steam cleaning, application of insecticides, bed bug sprays, and follow-up evaluations.

This approach is highly effective as it addresses all stages of the bed bug life cycle.

Non-Chemical Treatments

Non-chemical treatments like vacuuming, steam cleaning, and hot washing bedding and clothing can also help manage a bed bug infestation. These methods can effectively kill bed bugs without the use of harmful chemicals.

Vacuuming the bed

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So, while bed bug bombs may seem like a quick fix, they’re not the most effective or safe method for dealing with a bed bug infestation. I highly recommend going through my full 7-step guide on how to get rid of bed bugs for more details.



Other Bed Bug Guides from Planet Natural:

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