In the News – Foggers Ineffective Against Bed Bugs

By Chris Williams on February 6, 2013.

Bed bugsMany people think that the answer to any kind of pest problem is to “bomb” it. They purchase bug bombs (also known as total release foggers) and fill their home with an insecticide fog. Foggers are seen to be an inexpensive, easy-to-use alternative to professional pest control services. But researchers at Ohio State University have just shown that you can forget about using foggers against bed bugs, and most other household pests for that matter.

The researchers tested three over-the-counter foggers: Hotshot Bedbug and Flea Fogger, Spectracide Bug Stop Indoor Fogger, and Eliminator Indoor Fogger. All three contain pyrethroid insecticides. Pyrethroids are common in consumer pest control products, and consequently, many insects have developed resistance to the insecticide. The researchers tested both field-collected bed bugs from infested residences in Columbus, OH and a lab-reared strain of bed bugs that had never been exposed to pyrethroid insecticides and should not have resistance. In case you’re wondering how bed bug researchers feed their test subjects, some feed them on their own arms (or those of grad students). The OSU researchers fed their bed bugs on warmed chicken blood every 7 to 14 days.

They placed the bed bugs in both open petri dishes, and in dishes that were then covered with a thin cloth to provide some protection from the fog. They found that the foggers had virtually no effect on the Columbus bed bugs and even very little effect on the lab bed bugs. In fact when the lab bed bugs were protected with a cloth cover, the foggers had no effect at all.

The researchers used the cloth cover to simulate protected sites since that is where bed bugs spend most of their time. More than 80% of bed bugs remain in cracks and crevices and other hiding places during the day. The study showed that there is minimal, if any, penetration of the fog into these hiding places. The researchers concluded that use of foggers has no effect on bed bugs because the fog doesn’t reach them in hiding and because most have developed resistance to the insecticide. The same results can be expected when using foggers against cockroaches and most other pests that hide.

The researchers also pointed out that use of foggers can actually make some pest problems worse. For example, when exposed to foggers, German cockroaches prematurely release their egg cases, resulting in an increase in newly hatched nymphs. Foggers also cause pests to move out of the treated area into adjacent areas, in other words from one apartment to another. The researchers point out concerns about pesticide residues on exposed surfaces, flammability hazards, unnecessary release of pesticides, and accidental poisoning due to the use of over-the-counter foggers.

This just confirms what all the bed bug experts say, which is that this is one pest where you really have to have help from a professional pest control company. Bed bugs are extremely difficult to control. You really can’t do it by yourself, and you definitely can’t do it with foggers.

[Source: “Ineffectiveness of Over-the-Counter Total-Release Foggers Against the Bed Bug.” Journal of Economic Entomology. Vol. 105, No. 3, pp. 957-963.]



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