Bug bombs ( and aerosol foggers) do not get rid of bed bugs. They can make your bed bug problems worse, by spreading them deep into your walls or to your neighbors (not the intended effect in a multi-unit building). From various bed bug experts and trusted information sources, I have gathered the following suggestions:
- Do not use OTC foggers or bug bombs to fight bed bugs.
- Don’t let a landlord or professional set off a bomb or fogger in your home.
When this FAQ was originally written in March 2007, many university fact sheets and similar materials did not warn consumers not to use foggers or bug bombs to fight bed bugs. Some did, though, and now, in 2010, this information is becoming much more widely disseminated.
The first edition of Stephen Doggett’s Australian Bed Bug Code of Practice (PDF) states,
Aerosols should never be used as space sprays for bed bug elimination; the fine droplets simply will not penetrate into the locations where the insects hide. As most contain pyrethroids, there is an associated excitatory flushing effect and by spraying into a space rather than harbourage areas, the bugs are likely to disperse and can spread an infestation. Like aerosols, the smoke generating insecticides (known as pyrotechnics) or total release insecticides (‘bombs’) are also unlikely to penetrate into harbourage areas.
Dr. Michael F. Potter of the University of Kentucky has an entire page on the “Limitations of Home Insect Foggers (‘Bug Bombs’).” It notes that they do not work well, can pose health risks due to how pesticide residues settle onto exposed surfaces and may be flammable.
The official NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene pamphlet on bed bugs says (rather colorfully, I might add):
“Foggers and bug bombs are not effective against [bed bugs].”
“Do not use pesticide bombs or foggers to control pests. They can make conditions worse.”
(page 14/back cover)
The NYCDOH guide is available as a PDF you can hand to your relative or landlord, when they try to use bombs.
Finally, it’s important to note the following:
- Some PCOs who do know bedbugs use aerosols as space sprays. They may use CB-80 as a “flushing” component.
- Full-structure sulfuryl fluoride (Vikane) fumigation, which requires an evacuation of the entire building, and treatment of the entire building, is something entirely different, and does work well for bed bugs.
Thanks to coopbugged, couchbugs and Hopelessnomo for tips on items to be included above. Thanks to Winston, Lou Sorkin, and everyone else who have long warned us Bedbuggers about foggers and bug bombs.