Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are resilient pests that can cause significant distress and disruption within homes, businesses, and other populated environments. If you’re facing a bed bug infestation, the search for a quick and permanent solution is understandable. While chemicals play a crucial role in bed bug control, understanding their strengths and limitations is essential for successful eradication.

This article explores the various classes of chemicals used against bed bugs, their effectiveness, safety considerations, and why an integrated approach is often necessary for long-term bed bug management.


Key Takeaways

  • Chemicals are a powerful tool in combating bed bugs but may not offer a standalone, permanent solution.
  • Resistance to chemicals, hidden eggs, and difficulty targeting all bed bug hiding spots highlight the need for a combined pest control approach.
  • Always prioritize safety by strictly following the pesticide label instructions to protect yourself, your family, and your pets.
  • Consider the infestation’s severity, location, and the presence of children or pets before selecting a bed bug control chemical.
  • Seek information from reliable sources (such as university extensions, or pest control professionals) for guidance on product effectiveness and safe application.


Common Chemicals Used to Kill Bed Bugs

There are several different types of chemicals used to kill bed bugs, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Here’s a breakdown of the most common ones:


1. Pyrethrins and Pyrethroids

This is the most common form of pest control that an exterminator will use. It isn’t only used for bed bug control, but also for controlling other indoor pests as well. Sometimes these products are available as a total release fogger.

Pyrethrins are a form of botanical insecticide. They’re derived from chrysanthemum flowers. On the other hand, Pyrethroids are synthetic chemicals that work in the same way as pyrethrins. Both of these chemicals perform bed bug removal by flushing them out of where they’re hiding and killing them.

Unfortunately, some bed bugs have grown resistant to these chemicals. When this happens, the chemicals will only temporarily flush the bugs out, causing them to move to a new place.

Your exterminator will use a combination product for pesticide-resistant bed bug strains. This typically has several pyrethroid and pyrethrin active ingredients in it. Some combine various chemical classes within their single product. Both of these formulations allow for improved bed bug control. The same holds true for switching to an entirely different chemical class.


2. Desiccants

Desiccants work by fatally dehydrating bed bugs. Examples include diatomaceous earth (fossilized algae remains) and silica gel, but their effectiveness can be limited by factors such as humidity and the inability to kill bed bug eggs.

Desiccants destroy the bed bug’s outer, waxy, protective coating. This leads to bed bugs dying from dehydration, a valuable form of bed bug control because it’s a real mode. Bed bugs can’t grow resistant to this like they can grow resistant to other forms of pesticides that have varying modes of action. Additionally, this modality is long-lasting and doesn’t disturb the bed bug’s normal activities.

Examples include diatomaceous earth (fossilized algae remains) and silica gel, but their effectiveness can be limited by factors such as humidity and the inability to kill bed bug eggs.

When an exterminator uses either of these it’s important they make sure that they use a product registered by the EPA for bed bug control. Using a desiccant that’s not labeled for bed bugs poses a greater inhalation risk for people. This includes desiccants that the EPA labels food-grade or for swimming pool use. It’s also important to understand the limited usage of this chemical class. You can only use it in cracks and crevices. They do this in hopes of reducing the risk of inhalation.


3. Biochemicals (Neem Oil)

There is only one biochemical pesticide that your exterminator can use for bed bug removal: cold-pressed neem oil. Extracted from the neem tree, neem oil acts as a natural insecticide that can disrupt bed bug development and reproduction.

The Neem tree is a tropical evergreen tree found growing throughout Africa and Southeast Asia. In the oil, there are various compounds known for their insecticidal and medicinal properties. For this reason, the oil is also used in making shampoo, soap, toothpaste, and cosmetics. When scientists performed trials on bed bug adults, nymphs, and eggs.

Neem oil may require repeated applications and is generally considered less potent than some synthetic chemicals.


4. Pyrroles (Chlorfenapyr)

Pyrroles are a newer class of insecticides that work by disrupting cellular energy production within bed bugs. This is a pro-insecticide compound meaning its biological activity depends on another chemical activating with it. When this happens, it forms a new chemical that disrupts functioning in the bed bug’s cells. This ultimately causes its death.

It’s crucial to follow the label instructions of any product containing pyrroles for both safety and maximum effectiveness.


5. Neonicotinoids

These are synthetic forms of nicotine. As such, this form of pest control works on the bed bug’s nicotine receptors, which are found in its nervous system. When this happens, the bed bug’s nerves fire continually until they eventually fail. This is a different mode of pest control so even if bed bugs grow resistant to other forms of pest control, this bed bug removal mode may still work on them.


6. Insect Growth Regulators

This form of pest control mimics a green insect’s growth hormones. When an exterminator uses them the insect growth regulator works in one of two ways.

The first is that it alters chitin’s production. This is the compound that insects use when making their exoskeleton (their hard, external shell).

Secondly, insect growth regulators can also affect the insect’s development either by forcing rapid development or stopping its development altogether.


Can Chemicals Offer a Permanent Bed Bug Solution?

While chemicals are an essential weapon in the fight against bed bugs, it’s crucial to remember that they might not always guarantee a complete and permanent solution on their own. Here’s why:

  • Resistance: Bed bugs, unfortunately, are masters of adaptation. Over time, they can develop resistance to certain chemicals, rendering them less effective.
  • Hidden Eggs: Some chemicals might not be effective against bed bug eggs, meaning a new generation of bed bugs could hatch after treatment, re-starting the infestation.
  • Hard-to-Reach Areas: Even with the best chemicals, it’s difficult to treat every single crack and crevice where bed bugs hide. A few survivors can lead to a full-blown infestation down the line.


Safe and Proper Application of Bed Bug Pesticides

When it comes to dealing with bed bugs, knowing how to use pesticides safely is of utmost importance. Remember these vital points:

  • The Label is Law: Always read and follow the instructions on the pesticide label meticulously. It includes information on how to use the product effectively and what precautions to take for your safety and that of your family or pets.
  • Risks to Consider: Even when used correctly, pesticides can pose risks to humans and animals. Take extra care to avoid exposure, especially for children and pets.


Selecting the Best Bed Bug Chemical for Your Needs

Choosing the right bed bug chemical depends on several factors. Consider these questions when making your decision:

  • The Severity of the Infestation: For smaller, contained infestations, targeted use of readily available chemicals might be sufficient. However, widespread or heavy infestations may require stronger chemicals, multiple applications, or professional assistance.
  • Location: Where are the bed bugs? Are they confined to your bedroom, or have they spread throughout your home, business, or other environments? The location influences the type of product, the amount required, and the best application method.
  • Children and Pets: The presence of young children or pets necessitates extra caution when selecting pesticides. Opt for products with lower toxicity levels and take strict adherence to label instructions for safe storage and application. Seek professional advice for the safest approach if needed.
  • Access to Resources: You may be able to find a variety of over-the-counter treatments at your local store. However, some stronger professional-grade products are only available through pest control companies.
  • Bed Bug Resistance: If you suspect the bed bugs in your environment might be resistant to common pesticides, you’ll need to choose products specifically designed to combat resistance. These may include those combining pyrethroids with other chemical classes or entirely different insecticides like pyrroles.


Some Additional Tips

Consult reliable sources such as university extension websites, government agencies, or reputable pest control professionals for unbiased information on bed bug products, their effectiveness, and safety considerations.

Also, while cost is a factor, a cheaper product may not always be the most effective solution. Consider the potential need for multiple applications or professional services if the initial treatment fails.


How often should I spray for bed bugs?

If you find some bed bugs in your home, it is a good idea to spray them to get them removed as quickly as possible. Take a pesticide of your choice and liberally spray it in all crevices and areas in the bed or other parts of your home. You will want to repeat this two times each day until the signs of the bed bugs are all gone.

If you do this and there isn’t much improvement with doing this after 4 or 5 days, it is time to increase the concentration a little bit. You can do this for a few more days to see whether there is an improvement. If there’s none, it is time to call in the professionals to get the work done.


A Strategic Approach to Bed Bug Eradication

While chemicals undoubtedly play a key role in defeating bed bugs, it’s important to be realistic about their limitations. Long-term success often demands a broader strategy that goes beyond pesticides alone. Combining chemicals with methods like heat treatment, meticulous cleaning, and the use of bed bug encasements increases your chances of achieving a bed bug-free space and peace of mind. Always prioritize safety by strictly adhering to all product label instructions.

For stubborn infestations or if you have concerns about handling potentially harmful chemicals, don’t hesitate to seek help from a qualified bed bug control professional.


Sleep Soundly Again with Expert Bed Bug Removal

Battling bed bugs on your own can be a frustrating and seemingly endless process. Let Gecko Pest Control help you find the right solution for your situation. Our trained experts offer a comprehensive approach to bed bug control, combining effective chemical treatments with tailored strategies to get rid of these pests permanently. Don’t let bed bugs disrupt another night’s sleep. Get a quote today at (530) 342-3050.