There are more than 300 products to kill bed bugs and their eggs. Most of them are pesticides that work for bed bugs and other insects. They can be classified into seven groups, and in this article, you will have a complete guide of the chemicals you need if you want to get rid of bed bugs. As you read, remember that some of these chemicals are not safe for regular use, and bug control professionals are recommended if you want a more drastic solution.
What pesticides work better against bed bugs?
We can break down pesticides for bed bugs into seven groups. These chemicals can be from the pyrethrin, pyrethroid, desiccant, biochemical, pyrrole, neonicotinoid, or insect growth regulator group. Another group that works against bed bugs is an organophosphate known as dichlorvos or DDVP. This one is only meant to be used in small spaces.
Let us review the most common chemicals for bed bug control, one by one:
- Pyrethrin and Pyrethroid: These groups comprise the most common chemicals and pesticides against indoor pests. Pyrethrins are chemicals derived from a type of flower called chrysanthemum and work against bed bugs and other insects. Pyrethroid chemicals are synthetic substances created in the lab to mimic the mechanism of pyrethrins. They are both lethal for bed bugs and indoor pests and kill them and their eggs. The downside of these substances is that some types of bed bugs can become resistant, and when this happens, they would only move to a new location instead of dying. This resistance can be solved using a combination of pesticides or multiple pyrethrins and pyrethroids at the same time in the same product.
- Desiccants: This group of pesticides has a physical instead of chemical action against bed bugs. As the name implies, they desiccate or dry up bed bugs. What they do is destroying the outer layer that covers bed bugs and keeps their hydration. Without this outer cover, bed bugs will lose a significant deal of liquid, similar to what would happen to a person who experienced a severe and extensive skin burn. Bed bugs will not automatically die, but they will dehydrate slowly and eventually stop living. This is an invaluable tool against bed bugs because they cannot become resistant, the same as an extensive skin burn will always cause dehydration in men. It is a physical action with a long-lasting effect. Boric acid and diatomaceous earth are examples of desiccants commonly used for bed bug control.
- Biochemicals: This type of pesticide is also used against bed bugs. They also come from natural sources, especially neem oil. This oil comes from the Neem tree, a tropical tree found in Africa and some parts of Asia. This oil protects Neem tree seeds against many environmental damages and has medicinal properties we can use in cosmetics and soaps. Neem oil is thus safe when it comes to contact with the human skin and displays a potent insecticidal property that works against adult bed bugs, their nymphs, and their eggs.
- Pyrroles: There are not many pesticides in this group for bed bugs, only chlorfenapyr-based pesticides. The rest may not work for bed bug control. When it becomes activated, chlorfenapyr has a potent action in bed bugs. It works in their cells and blocks several pathways and functions that trigger their death.
- Neonicotinoids: This group of pesticides are derived from nicotine and produced synthetically to activate nicotinic receptors in the bed bug nervous system. The non-stop activation of the nicotinic receptors in beg bugs exhausts the nerves chemically, and they can no longer fire new impulses. Thus, it ultimately disrupts the nervous system of the bed bugs and kills them. They are often used when bed bugs have become resistant to more common pesticides.
- Insect growth regulators: Unlike humans and other animals, insects have specific growth hormones that stimulate the production of certain substances that create their outer shell. Insect growth regulators mimic these hormones’ actions and trigger a non-stop production of chitin that causes deformations and does not allow insects to function properly. They are not developed as they should and die before reaching into adulthood. Insect growth regulators can work differently from each other, and some of them stop development instead of triggering an exaggerated synthesis of chitin.
Is there another recommendation to get rid of bed bugs?
There are many ways to get rid of bed bugs besides using chemicals. For example, heat application can be handy to treat carpets. And getting your clutter together is essential if you’re using chemicals or any other means of eradication.
Bed bugs are resistant to high and low temperatures, but if you reach 113ºF for one hour or more, that will be enough to kill bed bugs and destroy their eggs. A temperature of 180ºF will be enough to kill them almost instantly. So, if you treat your carpet with steam or put your bedding on a high-temperature dryer for half an hour, that’s usually enough to kill bed bugs.
On the other hand, cleaning your house is also very important to stop the infestation. The more clutter you have, the more hiding spaces bed bugs will have to cover, hide their eggs, and reproduce. Therefore, it is essential to vacuum your room, clean everything to the detail, and get rid of the clutter as much as you can.
You may need professional attention you feel you can’t get rid of bed bugs, believe there’s a severe infestation in your home, or previously failed in eradicating bed bugs at home. Professional pest control is recommended if you’re considering fumigation and other drastic solutions.
Singh, N., Wang, C., & Cooper, R. (2014). Potential of essential oil-based pesticides and detergents for bed bug control. Journal of economic entomology, 107(6), 2163-2170
Doggett, S. L., Dwyer, D. E., Peñas, P. F., & Russell, R. C. (2012). Bed bugs: clinical relevance and control options. Clinical Microbiology Reviews, 25(1), 164-192.
Chrysler, D., Foster, E., Reik, R., Schwartz, A., Signs, K., & Stobierski, M. G. (2010). Michigan manual for the prevention and control of bed bugs. USA: Michigan Department of Community Health.