Do you have hard-to-kill pests that just keep coming back? Do creepy crawlies tend to crop up in every corner of a room? Do you want to treat several areas all at once? If so, you might have considered purchasing a bug bomb (which is also known as a home insect fogger). These consumer-grade pest-control products purport to eliminate a wide variety of pests within a broad area.
Do bug bombs really work, though? The evidence just might surprise you. Not only do bug bombs fail to adequately eliminate insects, they also can have significant downsides for humans.
Store-bought Bug Bombs can be Hazardous
Everyone expects the chemicals within pest-control items to pose a danger to the pests. However, bug bombs have injured plenty of people — and not in the way you might expect. The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment has noted that home insect foggers (aka bug bombs) often contain highly flammable chemicals. “There have been several house fires involving insect foggers when users neglected to extinguish pilot lights on stoves, furnaces, and other household appliances. Fires have also been caused when the ‘bombs’ are set off in the presence of a lit cigarette.”
Additionally, the pesticide itself may harm humans if they come into contact with it. Due to the way bug bombs work (more on that in the next section), they pose a very real inhalation risk to a building’s occupants if they remain inside while it is deploying.
Bug Bombs Require Preparation and Precautions
Most bug bombs use pyrethrin as their active ingredient, and they work by aerosolizing it and other chemicals in a fine spray that shoots up and settles down all over a room. This wide dispersal is both their prime selling point and a significant risk. For this reason, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends completely vacating the premises prior to using a bug bomb, saying, “They can pose real risks to your home and family if used improperly.” Other recommended preparations include opening drawers and cabinets to allow the chemicals to settle in places where bugs may hide.
Bug Bombs Alone Are Not Effective
There’s just one problem with exposing extra room real estate to the clingy mess expelled by bug bombs: It rarely reaches its intended targets. Bug bombs cannot get into the little crevasses where most pests like to hide. Additionally, pyrethrin is typically not effective against anything but flying insects, such as house flies.
Bug Bombs Especially Aren’t Effective Against Bed Bugs
Many consumers buy bug bombs hoping that they can help against a bed-bug infestation. But bug bombs fail to do any good against these stubborn pests. Why? Their chemicals aren’t very effective against them and rarely reach them. This conclusion was given extra scholarly weight by a 2012 study published in the Journal of Economic Entomology, which stated, “This study provides the first scientific data supporting the position that total-release foggers should not be recommended for control of bed bugs,” because:
- Many field-collected bed bugs are resistant to pyrethroids, and they are not affected by brief exposure to low concentrations of pyrethrins and/or pyrethroids provided by foggers; and
- There is minimal, if any, insecticide penetration into typical bed bug harborage sites.
Bug Bombs and Fumigation Are Not the Same
While bug bombing an area might seem similar to professional fumigation, it really isn’t. When pest-control professionals fumigate a property, they seal externally with leak-proof tenting and release an agent that thoroughly permeates every nook and cranny. Unlike bug bombing, fumigation ensures that the chemical comes in contact with the pests it aims to eliminate.
Does it Make Sense to Use Bug Bombs?
You might think that using a bug bomb doesn’t make much sense — and you’d be right! The University of Kentucky unequivocally states, “There are many ways to wage war against pests. One of the least effective involves using a fogger.”
If you’re looking for effective ways to remove pests from your home or business, contact Smithereen Pest Management at (800) 336-3500. Not only is our Integrated Pest Management approach environmentally friendly, it also stops current outbreaks and keeps them from coming back. We have over a century of experience in battling pests.