A study by Ohio State University entomologists, published in the June 2012 issue of the Journal of Economic Entomology, determined that foggers (a.k.a., “bug bombs”) available to consumers are not effective in killing bed bugs, which have increased by as much as 500 percent in North American and other parts of the world during the past decade.
The Findings: Foggers Are a Waste
Ohio State researchers tested three leading fogger brands purchased at a national retailer to see if they work as an exterminator for bed bugs. One of the foggers was labeled specifically for bed bugs; the other two were for “flying and crawling pests.” All three contained pyrethroids as their primary ingredient.
The researchers conducted experiments in three rooms of a vacant building, using five different bed bug populations collected from nearby homes. As a control group, they also included a strain of bed bugs known to be susceptible to pyrethroids.
The three over-the-counter foggers had little to no effect on the five populations collected in the field. As was to be expected, the control group had a high mortality rate, but only if they were in the open—a finding that underscores the futility of using foggers as an exterminator for bed bugs, which are notorious for finding well-concealed, well-protected places to nest. It’s very unlikely that bed bugs are actually exposed to over-the-counter foggers, and even if they are, many bed bug populations are resistant to pyrethroids, concluded OSU entomologist Susan Jones, one of the researchers.
“The nature of these foggers is such that they don’t penetrate in cracks and crevices where most bedbugs are hiding, so most of them will survive,” Jones said. “If you use these products, you will not get the infestation under control, you will waste your money, and you will delay effective treatment of your infestation. Bedbugs are among the most difficult and expensive urban pests to control. It typically takes a professional to do it right.”