When why and how to use pesticides to kill bed bugs
Need proof that pesticides don’t always work?
They say a picture is worth a thousand words…this picture of the corner of a bed frame was taken during a heat treatment at an apartment that had been treated with pesticides at least 5 times! The white stains are the pesticide residue and the black markings are the bed bug fecal deposits.
Look a little closer…now what do you see?
These live bed bugs and bed bug eggs were literally sitting on the pesticide residue. The most recent spray treatment was 3 weeks prior to this picture being taken. As you can see, there were lots of bed bugs still alive! If we had done this service, we would have used our steamer and immediately killed the bugs and eggs.
So why are pesticides not always effective?
A number of factors can influence how successful a pesticide treatment is including:
- Incomplete preparation (there is a ton of work to do to prepare for a pesticide application, and if not fully prepared, there are areas that cannot be treated and bugs that will survive)
- Lots of clutter (this provides untreatable hiding places for the bugs)
- Pesticides don’t kill the eggs, the new bugs will continue to hatch out
- Poor treatment techniques
- Bed bug pesticide resistance (even if everything is done properly, studies show that many bed bugs populations cannot be killed with currently registered pesticides)
What pesticides work?
Desiccant dusts (DE or Drione, not boric acid) last a long time, are typically very safe when applied properly, they kill bugs, but they are slow. The liquid residuals that pest control companies use (in Canada this is tempo, dragnet, demand and a combination product Temprid) all work sometimes. Dragnet, tempo and demand have more resistance problems because they all act in a similar way, and they have been used the most. Temprid is the best of this bunch as it has two different modes of action. Aerosols (there are many, and they all work the same way) can work if applied properly, especially on bugs that are contacted directly by the spray, but they tend to cause bugs to avoid the spray and scatter into harder to reach areas.
Please never use a “bug bomb” or total release aerosol – they will actively spread bed bugs away from where you use it, and make your problem worse.
When pesticides are used they need to be targeted at the zones where the bugs are, where they spend most of their time, and different ones need to be used to ensure we don’t make them resistant. You can’t spray em again only harder, or just make it stronger, or use “the good stuff” – if they are resistant you need to use something else!
We use heat treatment for bed bugs (either whole home treatments or targeted steaming) and dessicant dusts, physical controls like mattress encasements and interceptor traps, targeted sprays, and hard work. It works, it can still take some time, it doesn’t make the resistance problem worse, it is safe, and it works.