Last Updated on January 5, 2023 by Alene Schill
Dealing with bed bug infestation can be challenging, especially if you do it on your own. Fortunately, pest control companies are experts in eliminating bed bugs.
But what chemicals do exterminators use for bed bugs? Read on to know if they are effective and safe to use.
Top 7 Common Chemicals That Bed Bug Exterminators Use
Biochemicals are biologically-derived chemicals that can be used to kill bed bugs. Cold-pressed neem oil is the only biochemical pesticide that bed bug exterminators use for bed bug infestations.
Neem oil is directly pressed from the seed of the Neem Tree- a tropical evergreen tree you can find in Africa and Southeast Asia. These are compounds in the oil known for insecticidal and medicinal properties, so they can be used to make soap, toothpaste, shampoo, and cosmetics.
Scientists conducted trials on bed bug eggs, nymphs, and adult bed bugs, and the approved label reveals that it can be used for bed bug control. However, unlike other chemicals for pest control, neem oil can repel many bed bugs but lose its potency after a week.
Pyrethrins are one of the most common chemicals pest control companies use for bed bug control. It is made from chrysanthemum flowers and other plants. The chemical is used for controlling bed bugs by interrupting their nerve function and making them paralyzed.
Unfortunately, bed bugs may develop resistance to this chemical, so it may only flush the bugs out temporarily. Chances are, bed bug populations will be bigger if they move to other places unnoticed.
Pyrethroids are synthetically-derived chemical similar to Pyrethrins, and it is commonly used to get rid of bed bugs. Synthetic chemical insecticides like Pyrethroids can be toxic to the bug’s nervous system and help in killing bed bugs.
In addition, when combined with Pyrethrin, the two chemicals can be effective bed bug removers because they flush bed bugs to where they are hiding. On the other hand, since bed bugs may grow resistant to these chemicals, they can be a temporary solution to your bed bug problem.
Pyrrole is a chemical that can disrupt the cells of insects and greatly helps in killing bed bugs . The only pyrrole pesticide approved by the EPA is Chrlorfenapyr, and the chemical kills bed bugs once they consume it.
Once young and adult bed bugs consume the chemical and metabolize it inside their bodies, it can block ATP. Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) is an energy-carrying molecule that you can find in the cells of living things like bed bugs . With this, the bug will become weak and eventually die.
Exterminators widely use desiccants to get rid of bed bugs because they can destroy the pest’s outer wax and their protective coating. If the protective layer of bed bugs is destroyed, they will be dehydrated and then die.
Desiccants work by absorbing moisture from the eggs and insects until they dry out. The two chemical classes you can use are the Diatomaceous Earth and Boric Acid.
Ensure that the brands that use Diatomaceous Earth and Boric Acid are labeled with EPA for bed bug control to avoid health problems. Some are labeled for swimming pools, while others are food grade.
Fun Fact: Bed bugs cannot grow resistant to Desiccants, so that it can be a long-lasting solution for pest control.
Neonicotinoids are derived from nicotine, and it is unique pest control that you can use to attack the bloodsucker’s system. Once the bed bugs absorb the synthetic form of nicotine, their system will fail and cause death.
It is one of the harmful chemicals that can get into your skin, but it is a class of chemicals that can kill bed bugs for a certain time. Unlike other chemicals, bed bugs cannot grow resistant to this pest control, which works great in an infested room.
7. Insect Growth Regulators
When dealing with bed bugs, you can use an entirely different chemical class to control bed bug populations with resistance to chemicals. Insect growth regulators help get rid of bed bugs and prevent bed bugs from reproducing like juvenile growth hormones.
Bed bugs live in mattresses, bed frames, and other upholstered furniture, and they can lay 2-10 eggs per day. But with an insect growth regulator, you can stop the development of nymphs and young bed bugs. Growth regulators target insects only so they may not cause harm to your children and pets.
Are Bed Bug Chemicals Dangerous?
Bed bug chemicals are dangerous, but it depends on the sensitivity and exposure of the person to the chemicals. Most exterminators use a different mode to control bed bugs. A pest control professional usually uses chemicals that help depopulate and kill bed bugs, and most of the time, the chemicals are dangerous when inhaled and exposed for a long period.
The chemical classes depend on the sensitivity and exposure of a person. Long-term exposure may lead to inflammation, headaches, rashes, and many more. It would be best to contact the exterminators beforehand and ask about the methods and chemicals they will use for extra precautions.
What are Synergists?
Synergists are used for most bed bugs that have become resistant to chemicals. Insecticide resistance is linked to metabolic detoxification enzymes like Esterases and Carboxylesterase. It means that over time, bed bugs can adapt to chemicals and break down chemicals in their bodies without being killed.
One way to successfully overcome insecticide resistance is by formulation of synergists that can counteract metabolic detoxification. Synergists can disrupt bed bugs’ metabolism and suppress the ability to resist chemicals.
Are Bed Bug Chemicals Effective?
Bed bug chemicals are proven effective, and it is widely used to kill them easily. If you cannot wait on heat treatment, chemicals can effectively kill bed bugs. However, not all chemicals are created the same; some chemicals can instantly kill bed bugs while others may last longer.
The effectiveness of chemicals depends on the severity of bed bug infestation and if they are chemically resistant. Exterminators use a combination of tools or integrated pest management to eliminate pests. Chemical compounds are proven effective for bed bugs because it directly targets the bed bug’s cells.
How Do You Use Pesticides For Bed Bugs?
Pesticides are used for bed bugs to alter insect development, hit nervous systems, and kill them. However, pesticides can result in serious health problems when not used properly, so you have to be careful when using them.
Pesticides are harmful chemicals, so we recommend hiring professionals and letting them do the job. Pesticides come in different forms, but exterminators widely use botanical insecticides and pyrethroid pesticides for bed bugs.
Pesticides are commonly sprayed if it is in liquid form and is spread all over the furniture and common hiding places that are commonly infested by bed bugs.
Alternatives That May Have Lower Impact
Isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol can be an alternative for bed bugs because it poses a low risk to humans and pets. It is a ready-to-use solution but flammable, so alcohol should only be used for spot treatments.
Isopropyl alcohol can kill bed bugs and bed bugs’ eggs, but it is not one of the effective methods to get rid of the infestation. It would be challenging to directly apply the alcohol to the insect’s body, especially because they hide in crevices and cracks. Moreso, It will help if you don’t drench your furniture with alcohol because it is flammable.
Botanicals are non-toxic to humans, wildlife, pets, and plants, so it is a great alternative to harmful chemicals. Neem is one of the botanicals you can use to get rid of bed bugs effectively and safely. Neem oil came from the Neem tree in Africa and Southeast Asia.
Phenylethyl propionate is another natural botanical extract with low toxicity and can help get rid of bed bugs. Both are safe to use but can only temporarily flush bed bugs and other indoor pests.
Mineral compounds contain low toxicity to pets and humans, but did you know that it works great for bed bugs? Boric acid is a mineral compound included on the list of Environmental Protection Agency as allowed substances for pest control. The pesticide has low toxicity for humans but is proven effective for bed bug treatments.
Another mineral compound you can use is the Diatomaceous Earth, which can dehydrate the bed bugs because it absorbs all their fats and oils. However, it is a low-impact alternative to other chemicals, so it may take you a while to get rid of the infestation.
Are bed bug pesticides safe to use at home?
Yes, bed bug pesticides are safe to use at home. Most pesticides can destroy different life stages of bed bugs and are safe to use at home, even around your kids and pets. But you may want to check the label first to ensure that it is safe to use and will not pose a risk to your health.
If you are using pesticides to deal with the extreme issue of bed bugs, we recommend skipping pesticides and seeking professionals that know how to deal with it.
How often should you spray for bed bugs?
It would be best to spray for bed bugs every two weeks until they are all gone. Most people believe that you should do it every day or twice a day until all the signs of bed bugs are gone. However, spraying frequently can contribute to bed bug resistance to pesticides and put your health at risk.
Bed bugs hate chemicals because they can disrupt their body function, so most exterminators use them to fight the infestation. However, it is important to know what chemicals exterminators use for bed bugs for your safety. After all, we want a bed bug-free and safe environment.
With all those pesticides on the market, we now know the common chemicals you can effectively use to fight bed bugs. Whether you are planning to DIY or hire experts to deal with bed bugs, you know that they are effective and safe to use.
Alene Schill is a property manager from Columbus, Ohio, who has dealt with numerous pest control agencies. She helps families find the perfect homes and knows very well that bed bugs are an ultimate deal-breaker. She enjoys cycling around Scioto Mile during her spare time.