Study: Bed bug 'bombs' don't work
June 3rd, 2012
11:30 PM ET

Study: Bed bug 'bombs' don't work

Do-it-yourself "bombs" or "foggers" that target bugs by filling entire rooms with aerosol insecticide are billed as an easy, cost-effective alternative to pricey pro exterminators. Although these products are indeed cheap, retailing at hardware stores for around $10, if you use them on bed bugs you're likely to get what you pay for.

In a new study, the first of its kind to be published, entomologists at Ohio State University tested three commercially available foggers - sold under the Hot Shot, Spectracide, and Eliminator brands, respectively - and concluded that all three products were virtually useless at fighting bed bug infestations.

Bed bugs in houses and apartments tend to be resistant to the insecticides used in most foggers, the study found, and even non-resistant bugs are likely to survive a fogging because the mist of chemicals doesn't appear capable of penetrating the cracks in furniture and walls where bed bugs usually hide.

"Based on our findings, bug bombs should not be used for crawling insects such as bed bugs," says lead researcher Susan C. Jones, Ph.D., an associate professor at the university. "These products shouldn't even be labeled for bed bugs."

Health.com: 15 tips for avoiding hotel bedbugs

Only one of the products tested, the Hot Shot Bedbug & Flea Fogger, specifically calls out bed bugs on its label, while the others refer broadly to "crawling" or "biting" insects.

Bed bugs are a major nuisance but generally don't pose a threat to health, as their bites rarely cause more than itching welts or the occasional allergic reaction. Foggers, on the other hand, can be hazardous if used incorrectly.

In a 2008 report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that at least 466 fogger-related injuries or illnesses were documented across eight states between 2001 and 2006. The most common ill effects—such as headaches, nausea, and coughing - tended to be minor and short-lived, although hospitalization was required in 21 cases.

Most incidents apparently involved people who didn't leave the room quickly enough after setting off a fogger, or who reentered a room too soon. In addition, Jones says, the insecticides found in foggers (known as pyrethroids and pyrethrins) can contaminate surfaces such as kitchen counters, and the aerosol propellant used to disperse them is flammable.

Health.com: Can you get bed bugs at a movie theater?

The new study, which appears in the Journal of Economic Entomology, suggests that foggers are so ineffective against bed bugs that they probably don't warrant even the small risk of harmful insecticide exposure or other hazards.

Jones and her colleagues began by collecting five different populations of bed bugs from residences in Columbus, Ohio. As a control group, they added a sixth population, known as the Harlan strain, that has been cultivated in alaboratory - and carefully sheltered from pesticides - since 1973.

The researchers then placed the various bed bug populations in petri dishes and exposed them to the foggers in a campus building slated for demolition. After one test, Jones recalls, "the Harlan bugs were keeled over and all of our field populations [were] just scurrying around as if nothing ever happened to them," which suggests the non-laboratory bugs were resistant to the insecticide.

In a second series of tests, the researchers added small shelters made of paper discs or cloth to the petri dishes. These shelters, which allowed the bugs to hide during fogging, were designed to mimic the bugs' natural hideouts, such as the cracks and crevices in floorboards, along mattresses, and behind picture frames.

This time the fragile Harlan strain survived just fine. "The critical issue is that the droplets don't penetrate cracks or crevices," Jones says. "They don't even get to where the bugs are hiding."

Health.com: Health hazards hidden in college dorms

So is there any way to get rid of these elusive critters?

Professional exterminators can wipe out an infestation, but they charge hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, Jones says. Simple measures such as putting sheets in the dryer for 30 minutes, scouring mattresses with paper towels, and using a credit card to crush bugs hidden in floor boards and bed frames also can help reduce a population, she adds.

United Industries Corporation, which makes all three of the products tested in the study, emphasized in a statement that only the Hot Shot brand fogger is designed to be used on bedbugs. The company stood by its line of Hot Shot products, saying they are "proven to be effective against bed bugs."

The Hot Shot fogger "is particularly effective when used in in conjunction with our bedbug-killing direct sprays," said John Pailthorp, the company's division vice president of marketing. "We advise homeowners to follow up with a repeat, full-scale treatment one to two weeks after the initial fogging to ensure that bedbugs have been eradicated. And, as always, we recommend a professional evaluation if the problem is particularly severe."

Copyright Health Magazine 2011

Post by:
Filed under: Allergies • Health.com

soundoff (663 Responses)
  1. sarikasoppa

    Thanks for sharing.
    Pest Control Services

    June 9, 2021 at 04:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Google Marketing Agency

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this site. I'm hoping to view the same high-grade blog posts from you later on as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own site now 😉


    June 9, 2021 at 05:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Hayley Garrido

    Very nice write-up. I definitely love this website. Stick with it!


    June 9, 2021 at 11:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Lorilee Schock

    I love it when individuals come together and share views. Great website, keep it up!

    June 9, 2021 at 12:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Monroe Yokel

    There's definately a lot to find out about this subject. I like all of the points you made.

    June 9, 2021 at 12:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Internet Marketing Agency


    June 9, 2021 at 17:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Cliff Jeudy


    June 9, 2021 at 19:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Conception Losito

    Excellent blog post. I absolutely love this website. Keep it up!

    June 9, 2021 at 23:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Arnulfo Silton

    You've made some decent points there. I checked on the net for more information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this website.

    June 9, 2021 at 23:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. rv repair shops near me

    Saved as a favorite, I like your web site!


    June 10, 2021 at 00:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Londa Fortson

    I was able to find good info from your blog articles.


    June 10, 2021 at 02:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Claris Forbes


    June 10, 2021 at 10:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. rv repair near me now

    Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thank you, However I am going through difficulties with your RSS. I donít understand the reason why I am unable to subscribe to it. Is there anyone else getting similar RSS issues? Anyone that knows the solution will you kindly respond? Thanx!!


    June 10, 2021 at 10:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Taylor Benavides

    You made some decent points there. I checked on the web to learn more about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this web site.

    June 10, 2021 at 10:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Shandra Tanikella

    Spot on with this write-up, I truly think this amazing site needs much more attention. Iíll probably be back again to read through more, thanks for the info!

    June 10, 2021 at 10:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. private detectives madrid

    This is my first time pay a quick visit at here and i
    am truly happy to read everthing at single place.

    June 10, 2021 at 15:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Deloise Jansma


    June 10, 2021 at 17:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. rv repair


    June 10, 2021 at 19:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Delmar Knochel

    Greetings! Very useful advice within this post! It's the little changes that make the biggest changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!

    June 10, 2021 at 21:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. ucD6

    471140 54014Howdy! I just want to give an enormous thumbs up for the wonderful data you may have here on this post. I will likely be coming back to your weblog for far more soon. 979309

    June 10, 2021 at 23:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. JnXM0VSxZEE7x

    663094 391269This kind of lovely blog youve, glad I found it!?? 212771

    June 10, 2021 at 23:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Mervin Agunos


    June 11, 2021 at 00:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. rv repair shop near me


    June 11, 2021 at 04:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Jody Borkholder

    I need to to thank you for this good read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it. I've got you saved as a favorite to look at new things you postÖ


    June 11, 2021 at 07:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Jerry Kesner

    Having read this I thought it was extremely enlightening. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this content together. I once again find myself spending a significant amount of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

    June 11, 2021 at 08:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Leonor Hariston


    June 11, 2021 at 08:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. bbq near me

    Good web site you have here.. Itís difficult to find high quality writing like yours nowadays. I truly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!


    June 11, 2021 at 14:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. rv repair shop

    Iím impressed, I have to admit. Seldom do I come across a blog thatís both educative and interesting, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is something that not enough men and women are speaking intelligently about. Now i'm very happy that I found this in my search for something regarding this.


    June 11, 2021 at 14:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. RV Plumbing Riverside


    June 11, 2021 at 18:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Van Upholstery

    I could not refrain from commenting. Well written!


    June 11, 2021 at 18:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Mercedes Sprinter Service


    June 11, 2021 at 18:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. RV Repair Shops


    June 11, 2021 at 20:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. rv water leak repair

    This site was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something that helped me. Thanks a lot!


    June 11, 2021 at 22:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. rv interior repair

    Great web site you have here.. Itís difficult to find high-quality writing like yours nowadays. I honestly appreciate people like you! Take care!!


    June 12, 2021 at 05:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. RV Furniture Near Me


    June 12, 2021 at 05:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Van Upholstery Shop


    June 12, 2021 at 05:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Sprinter Black Death Repair


    June 12, 2021 at 06:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Dodge Sprinter 3500 2006 Window Repair


    June 12, 2021 at 06:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. vps

    My spouse and I stumbled over here from a different
    page and thought I may as well check things out.
    I like what I see so i am just following you. Look forward to
    looking over your web page again.

    June 12, 2021 at 10:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Lyndon Thiboutot

    I need to to thank you for this very good read!! I certainly enjoyed every bit of it. I have got you book marked to check out new stuff you postÖ


    June 12, 2021 at 13:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. food banks near me

    I was able to find good information from your articles.


    June 12, 2021 at 14:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. toyota dealer near me

    Howdy, I do believe your website may be having browser compatibility issues. Whenever I take a look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however, when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping issues. I just wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Other than that, excellent website!


    June 12, 2021 at 15:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. jobs near me


    June 12, 2021 at 17:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. dsw near me


    June 12, 2021 at 19:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. petco near me

    This is a topic which is close to my heart... Best wishes! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    June 12, 2021 at 20:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. recycling near me

    Hello! I could have sworn Iíve been to this blog before but after going through a few of the articles I realized itís new to me. Anyhow, Iím certainly happy I stumbled upon it and Iíll be book-marking it and checking back regularly!


    June 12, 2021 at 22:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. realtors near me

    Saved as a favorite, I really like your web site!


    June 12, 2021 at 23:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. places for rent near me

    Hi, I do think this is an excellent web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I'm going to revisit once again since i have book marked it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.


    June 13, 2021 at 01:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Gerardo Bukhari

    It helps to evaluation policies of different locations when looking to use this services. At 1 point, Karas had gained all of the Binion's casino's $5000 chips. You should decide the capability of table that you want.


    June 13, 2021 at 04:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. George Dilallo

    Don't be a victim, study this post now to learn how to reduce your losses. Today, there are so many online casinos and all of them have slot device games. A development that is nothing less than incredible.


    June 13, 2021 at 04:45 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.