How Dangerous Are Bed Bug Chemicals

Bed bug chemicals: how safe and how often?

Question:Hi. I am from the Ithaca area, and I just found out that I have a bed bug problem. Again. Last year, I got an exterminator to come to the house I was living in, and they treated twice. I was moving out two weeks later, so I am guessing that the eggs traveled with me to my new place and hatched later. What types of chemicals does your company use to help control bed bugs? There is a cat and also a woman who is pregnant who lives downstairs that I am concerned about the interaction with these pesticides.

How effective is the treatment? How many treatments are typically used? What is the average price of a three-bedroom home? Have you ever had to deal with bed bugs in this area?

ANSWER:The local branch office can tell you what insecticides are used. The number of treatments needed to get control is (national average) 3 to 4 treatments. The first step to treating the problem yourself is taking your bed apart. The frame should be completely deconstructed to reach all cracks and crevices. For any unreachable areas, aerosols are useful. Another effective method of treating for bed bugs is a hair dryer. Turned on high, the heat will chase bed bugs from their hiding places while killing some. You’ll also want to treat the box spring and mattress. Professional treatments include insecticides and steam.

Upon cleaning the frame and box spring, target the specific places bed bugs like to hide, like cracks in the frame and crevices and seams in the box spring and mattress. Be sure to thoroughly inspect and spray all furniture in the room, including walls and baseboards. Getting into cracks and behind the baseboards is essential. It may not seem necessary to do such a thorough job on the entire room, but bed bugs will travel long distances for a blood meal. Also, be aware that these pests can survive for long periods without nourishment (especially the adults), so bedding not used for a while, a suitcase or any used furniture brought into the house should be inspected thoroughly.

When it comes to bed bug infestations, the best way to correct the problem is with the help of a highly trained professional. Call Orkin today for an estimate and to schedule a comprehensive inspection of your home. Your Orkin Man will be able to come up with a correct customized treatment plan for you once the inspection is complete.

Related Questions:

The Orkin Man used the information above to also answer the following questions submitted by users:

Question:Do the chemicals you use to kill bed bugs pose any health risks to people with allergies or medical conditions such as seizures?

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Acute Illnesses Associated With Insecticides Used to Control Bed Bugs — Seven States, 2003–2010

The common bed bug,Cimex lectularius, is a wingless, reddish-brown insect that requires blood meals from humans, other mammals, or birds to survive (1). Bed bugs are not considered to be disease vectors (2,3), but they can reduce quality of life by causing anxiety, discomfort, and sleeplessness (4). Bed bug populations and infestations are increasing in the United States and internationally (3,5). Bed bug infestations often are treated with insecticides, but insecticide resistance is a problem, and excessive use of insecticides or use of insecticides contrary to label directions can raise the potential for human toxicity. To assess the frequency of illness from insecticides used to control bed bugs, relevant cases from 2003–2010 were sought from the Sentinel Event Notification System for Occupational Risks (SENSOR)-Pesticides program and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH). Cases were identified in seven states: California, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, New York, Texas, and Washington. A total of 111 illnesses associated with bed bug–related insecticide use were identified; although 90 (81%) were low severity, one fatality occurred. Pyrethroids, pyrethrins, or both were implicated in 99 (89%) of the cases, including the fatality. The most common factors contributing to illness were excessive insecticide application, failure to wash or change pesticide-treated bedding, and inadequate notification of pesticide application. Although few cases of illnesses associated with insecticides used to control bed bugs have been reported, recommendations to prevent this problem from escalating include educating the public about effective bed bug management.

To evaluate illnesses associated with insecticides used to control bed bugs, data from 2003–2010 were obtained from states participating in the SENSOR-Pesticides program* and from NYC DOHMH. † Acute illnesses associated with an insecticide used to control bed bugs were defined as two or more acute adverse health effects resulting from exposure to an insecticide used for bed bug control. Cases were categorized as definite, probable, possible, and suspicious based on three criteria: certainty of exposure, reported health effects, and consistency of health effects with known toxicology of the insecticide (causal relationship) (Table 1). Data were analyzed for demographics, health effects, report source, case definition category, illness severity, § insecticide toxicity, ¶ insecticide chemical class, work-relatedness, and factors contributing to illness. A 2010 case report from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) in Ohio also was obtained.**

For 2003–2010, a total of 111 cases were identified in seven states (Table 2). The majority of cases occurred during 2008–2010 (73%), were of low severity (81%), and were identified by poison control centers (81%). New York City had the largest percentage of cases (58%). Among cases with known age, the majority occurred among persons aged ≥25 years (67%). The majority of cases occurred at private residences (93%); 40% of cases occurred in multiunit housing. Among cases, 39% of pesticide applications were performed by occupants of the residence who were not certified to apply pesticides. The majority of insecticide exposures were to pyrethroids, pyrethrins, or both (89%) and were in toxicity category III (58%) (Table 2). The most frequently reported health outcomes were neurologic symptoms (40%), including headache and dizziness; respiratory symptoms (40%), including upper respiratory tract pain and irritation and dyspnea; and gastrointestinal symptoms (33%), including nausea and vomiting.

Among cases, 13 (12%) were work-related. Of these, three illnesses involved workers who applied pesticides, including two pest control operators, of whom one was a certified applicator. Four cases involved workers who were unaware of pesticide applications (e.g., two carpet cleaners who cleaned an apartment recently treated with pesticides). Two cases involved hotel workers (a maintenance worker and a manager) who were exposed when they entered a recently treated hotel room, and two cases involved emergency medical technicians who responded to a scene where they found white powder thought to be an organophosphate pesticide. Contributing factors were identified for 50% of cases. Factors that most frequently contributed to insecticide-related illness were excessive insecticide application (18%), failure to wash or change pesticide-treated bedding (16%), and inadequate notification of pesticide application (11%) (Table 3).

The one fatality, which occurred in North Carolina in 2010, involved a woman aged 65 years who had a history of renal failure, myocardial infarction and placement of two coronary stents, type II diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and depression. She was taking at least 10 medications at the time of exposure. After she complained to her husband about bed bugs, he applied an insecticide †† to their home interior baseboards, walls, and the area surrounding the bed, and a different insecticide §§ to the mattress and box springs. Neither of these products are registered for use on bed bugs. Nine cans of insecticide fogger ¶¶ were released in the home the same day. Approximately 2 days later, insecticides were reapplied to the mattress, box springs, and surrounding areas, and nine cans of another fogger*** were released in the home. On both days the insecticides were applied, the couple left their home for 3–4 hours before reentering. Label instructions on the foggers to air out the treated area for 30 minutes with doors and windows open were not followed on either day. On the day of the second application, the woman applied a bedbug and flea insecticide ††† to her arms, sores on her chest, and on her hair before covering it with a plastic cap. She also applied the insecticide to her hair the day before the second application. Two days following the second application, her husband found her nonresponsive. She was taken to the hospital and remained on a ventilator for 9 days until she died.

Another example of insecticide misuse to control bed bugs occurred in Ohio in 2010. An uncertified pesticide applicator applied malathion to an apartment five times over the course of 3 days to treat a bed bug infestation. The malathion product was not registered for indoor use and was applied liberally such that beds and floor coverings were saturated. A family resided in the apartment that consisted of a father, mother, four children, and an adult roommate. One of the children, aged 6 years, attended kindergarten and arrived home around the time of the afternoon malathion applications. The father and roommate also were in the home during the applications. The child began experiencing diarrhea on the first application day, and headache and dizziness began on the second application day. The two adults present during the applications reported nausea, vomiting, headaches, and tremors. During the malathion applications, three younger children were in child care while their mother was at work, and they did not exhibit symptoms of insecticide poisoning. Each night following application of malathion, the children slept on sheets placed on the floor to avoid sleeping on saturated beds.

Because symptoms in the child aged 6 years persisted on the third application day, he was taken to a community hospital emergency department (ED) and decontaminated. Because the hospital did not have pediatrics specialty care, he was transferred to CCHMC by ambulance for evaluation and treatment. His pseudocholinesterase level was within normal limits. He received 1 dose of pralidoxime and was observed in the CCHMC ED before release. The two adults were seen in a community hospital ED, treated, and released. The family did not return to the contaminated residence following the ED visits. The incident was investigated by the Cincinnati fire department and the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The applicator pled guilty to criminal charges, resulting in a fine and probation.

Reported by

James B. Jacobson, MPH, Katherine Wheeler, MPH, Robert Hoffman, MD, New York City Dept of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York; Yvette Mitchell, New York State Dept of Health. John Beckman, California Dept of Public Health; Louise Mehler, MD, PhD, California Dept of Pesticide Regulation. Prakash Mulay, Florida Dept of Health. Abby Schwartz, MPH, Michigan Dept of Community Health. Rick Langley, MD, Div of Public Health, North Carolina Dept of Health and Human Svcs. Brienne Diebolt-Brown, MA, Texas Dept of State Health Svcs. Joanne Bonnar Prado, MPH, Washington Dept of Health. Nicholas Newman, DO, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital/Univ of Cincinnati, Ohio. Geoffrey M. Calvert, MD, Div of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health; Naomi L. Hudson, DrPH, EIS Officer, CDC.Corresponding contributor:Naomi L. Hudson, [email protected], 513-841-4424.

Editorial Note

Bed bug populations and infestations are increasing in the United States and internationally (3,5). Contributing factors are thought to include increased bed bug resistance to insecticides, increased domestic and international travel, rooms with more clutter, and greater prevalence of bed bug–friendly furnishings (e.g., wooden bed frames) (5). Insecticides containing pyrethroids are used widely to control bed bugs; however, pyrethroid-resistant bed bug populations have been found in five states (California, Florida, Kentucky, Ohio, and Virginia) (5). Given the increasing resistance of bed bugs to insecticides approved for bed bug control, at least one state has requested an emergency exemption from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use propoxur, a carbamate, to control bed bugs indoors.

CDC and EPA promote integrated pest management (IPM) for bed bug control (3,6). IPM is an effective pest control method that uses information on the life cycle of the pest and incorporates nonchemical and chemical methods (6). Nonchemical methods to effectively control bed bugs include heating infested rooms to 118°F (48°C) for 1 hour or cooling rooms to 3°F (-16°C) for 1 hour by professional applicators (7); encasing mattresses and box springs with bed bug–excluding covers; and vacuuming, steaming, laundering, and disposing of infested items (6). Any effective control measure for bed bugs requires support from all residents in affected buildings and ongoing monitoring for infestation from other housing units (3). Often, multiple inspections and treatments are needed to eradicate bed bugs (4).

The findings in this report are subject to at least four limitations. First, acute illness associated with insecticide use might be underreported in the regions covered by the surveillance systems. Case identification in SENSOR-Pesticides relies on a passive surveillance system, so persons experiencing minor symptoms who do not seek medical treatment or advice from poison control centers are not reported to the system. Second, cases might have been excluded if insufficient information was provided to meet the case definition §§§ or to determine that the insecticide was used for bed bug control (e.g., surveillance systems do not systematically capture whether insecticides are used for bed bug control). Cases were identified only if available narrative information contained the term "bed bug." Third, false positives might be included as cases. Symptoms for acute illnesses associated with insecticides are nonspecific; illnesses might be coincidental and not caused by insecticide exposure. Among the 111 cases described in this report, only 16% were categorized as either definite or probable. Finally, contributing factors were identified for only 50% of the cases; complete knowledge of contributing factors might alter the interpretation presented in this report.

Although the number of acute illnesses from insecticides used to control bed bugs does not suggest a large public health burden, increases in bed bug populations that are resistant to commonly available insecticides might result in increased misuse of pesticides. Public health recommendations to prevent illnesses associated with insecticides used to control bed bugs include media campaigns to educate the public about bed bug–related issues, including nonchemical methods to control bed bugs, methods to prevent bed bug infestation (e.g., avoiding the purchase of used mattresses and box springs), and prudent use of effective insecticides (3). Persons who have a bed bug infestation should be encouraged to seek the services of a certified applicator ¶¶¶ who uses an IPM approach to avoid pesticide misuse. Persons applying insecticides should follow product instructions for safe and appropriate use. Insecticide labels that are easy to read and understand also can help prevent illnesses associated with bed bug control.


  1. Thomas I, Kihiczak GG, Schwartz RA. Bedbug bites: a review. Int J Dermatol 2004;43:430–3.
  2. Goddard J, deShazo R. Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) and clinical consequences of their bites. JAMA 2009;301:1358–66.
  3. CDC, Environmental Protection Agency. Joint statement on bed bug control in the United States from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2010.
  4. Wang C, Gibb T, Bennett GW. Evaluation of two least toxic integrated pest management programs for managing bed bugs (Heteroptera: Cimicidae) with discussion of a bed bug intercepting device. J Med Entomol 2009;46:566–71.
  5. Romero A, Potter MF, Potter DA, Haynes KF. Insecticide resistance in the bed bug: a factor in the pest’s sudden resurgence? J Med Entomol 2007;44:175–8.
  6. Environmental Protection Agency. Bed bug information. Washington, DC: Environmental Protection Agency; 2011. Available at Accessed September 16, 2011.
  7. Benoit JB, Lopez-Martinez G, Teets NM, Phillips SA, Denlinger DL. Responses of the bed bug,Cimex lectularius, to temperature extremes and dehydration: levels of tolerance, rapid cold hardening and expression of heat shock proteins. Med Vet Entomol 2009;23:418–25.

* The SENSOR-Pesticides program consists of 12 states that conduct surveillance of pesticide-related illness. California, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, New York, Texas, and Washington reported cases of acute illness associated with insecticides used for bed bug control. The other five states participating in the SENSOR-Pesticides program (Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Oregon) did not identify any cases of acute illness associated with insecticides used for bed bug control during 2003–2010. The California Department of Public Health reported one case of acute illness associated with insecticides used for bed bug control. The other case in California was reported through the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.

† New York City Poison Control Center, a component of NYC DOHMH, contributed data from 2003–2010, in addition to data received from New York State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Because the New York City Poison Control Center does not report data to the New York State Department of Health, their data were reported separately.

§ Low severity cases usually resolve without treatment and cause minimal time lost from work ( 5 days lost from work.

¶ The toxicity category of an insecticide is determined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under guidance from CFR Title 40 Part 156. Insecticides in category I have the greatest toxicity, and insecticides in category IV have the least toxicity.

** This case was not included in the analysis because Ohio does not participate in the SENSOR-Pesticides program. However, this case received media coverage in Ohio and represents misuse and excessive application of pesticides. The case demonstrates the need for consumers to be diligent in choosing a certified or licensed pesticide applicator.

†† Ortho Home Defense Max (Ortho Business Group), EPA registration number: 239-2663, with the active ingredient bifenthrin.

§§ Ortho Lawn and Garden Insect Killer (Ortho Business Group), EPA registration number: 239-2685, with the active ingredient bifenthrin.

¶¶ Hot Shot Fogger (Spectrum Group), EPA registration number: 9688-254-8845, with active ingredients tetramethrin and cypermethrin.

*** Hot Shot Bedbug and Flea Fogger (Spectrum Group), EPA registration number: 1021-1674-8845, with the active ingredient pyrethrins, piperonyl butoxide, MGK 264 (an insecticide synergist), and pyriproxyfen.

††† Hot Shot Bed Bug and Flea Killer (Chemisco), EPA registration number: 9688-150-8845, with active ingredients pyrethrins and piperonyl butoxide.

§§§ Among New York City cases, 33 were excluded because the affected persons each had only one reported symptom.

¶¶¶ Restricted-use pesticides may only be applied by licensed or certified applicators. States are responsible for the training, certification, and licensing of pesticide applicators. A certified applicator is a pesticide applicator who has been determined to have the knowledge and ability to use pesticides safely and effectively. Some states also require that certified pesticide applicators be licensed. In such states, a license is required to purchase, use and/or supervise the application of restricted-use pesticides. Information on certification of pesticide applicators is available at EPA guidance for consumers on choosing a pest control company and on pesticide safety and nonchemical means of control is available at Consumers who have questions about the licensing or certification of a pesticide applicator should contact their state’s agriculture department or agricultural extension service for information.

What is already known on this topic?

Bed bug populations and infestations are increasing in the United States and internationally. Bed bugs have an increased prevalence of insecticide resistance, including resistance to commonly used agents such as pyrethroids.

What is added by this report?

During 2003–2010, seven states reported 111 acute illnesses associated with insecticides used to control bed bugs. The most frequently identified causes of illness were excessive application of insecticides, failure to wash or change pesticide-treated bedding, and inadequate notification of pesticide application.

What are the implications for public health practice?

Inappropriate use of insecticides to control bed bugs can cause harm. Media campaigns to educate the public on nonchemical methods to control bed bugs, methods to prevent bed bug infestation, and the prudent use of effective insecticides, can reduce insecticide-related illness. Making insecticide labels easy to read and understand also might prevent illnesses associated with bed bug control.

TABLE 1. Case classification matrix* for acute illness associated with insecticides used for bed bug control — seven states, 2003–2010

Is Bug Spray Dangerous?

By Remy Melina 04 July 2010

A summer necessity, bug spray keeps insects away – but is it also bad for our health? Researchers are debating whether the anti-pest sprays with which we douse ourselves are putting our health in danger.

One chemical found in many repellents is DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide). Developed and tested in the 1940s and 1950s by the U.S. Army for use in jungle warfare during World War II, DEET is extremely efficient at repelling mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, chiggers and blood-feeding flies such as black flies and deer flies.

In addition to popular forms such as aerosols and pump sprays, DEET is also found in towelettes, lotions, creams and gels. The chemical keeps insects away for hours after application and can be applied over sunscreen.

But as long as DEET has been around, it has raised questions over its safety from citizens and scientists alike. Some are bothered by the smell, while others worry that it may irritate skin; many have felt the burning sting of accidentally spraying bug repellent over a minor cut.

Although the Environmental Protection Agency re-approved the use of DEET in 1998 after an extensive safety review, new data suggests that the substance may affect our cells in unintended ways.

A 2009 study found that DEET can interfere with the activity of enzymes that are vital for the nervous system to function properly. In the study, the researchers found that DEET blocked the enzyme cholinesterase, which is essential for transmitting messages from the brain to the muscles in insects. The researchers noted that DEET may also affect the nervous systems of mammals, and that more research in this area is needed.

The study, conducted by the Institute of Development Research in France, and published in the journal BMC Biology, found that chemicals that interfere with the action of cholinesterase can cause excessive salivation and eye-watering in low doses, followed by muscle spasms and ultimately death.

However, based on a 1998 review, EPA officials determined that DEET, if used as directed, does not pose significant health risks to consumers.

While the recent DEET study may deter some people from using bug spray altogether, other scientists have suggested that people keep in mind that the purpose of bug repellents is to prevent being pricked by biting insects that may transmit disease, including Lyme disease, malaria and encephalitis.

So what are some alternatives to DEET?

One of the newest arrivals on store shelves is picaridin, a substance derived from pepper that is popular in Europe and Australia. Studies by its manufacturer suggest that picaridin lasts for two to eight hours and is just as effective as DEET, but is less oily and completely odorless. Independent studies by the EPA are underway.

Another bug repellent on the market is the chemical IR3535, which has also been growing in popularity since its approval in the U. S. about adecade ago. Available in Europe for 20 years, numerous studies have confirmed the effectiveness of IR3535, which can offer protection for up to 10 hours.

A formulation that consists of 20 percent IR3535 is "very effective," entomologist Daniel Strickman of the U.S. Department of Agriculture told LiveScience, a sister site of Life’s Little Mysteries. "It’s the only repellent active ingredient that has never caused an adverse effect."

The EPA strongly recommends that consumers carefully read the instructions on bug spray products before applying them in order to ensure that they are applied safely, particularly on children.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advises that DEET be sprayed over clothing, rather than directly onto the skin. Other steps to ensure that you’re applying bug spray in the safest way possible include:

  • Never apply bug sprays over cuts, wounds or irritated skin.
  • Do not apply on hands or near the eyes and mouth, especially of young children.
  • Do not allow young children to apply DEET products themselves.
  • After returning indoors, wash bug spray-treated skin with soap and water.
  • Heavy application is not necessary to achieve protection, so apply it sparingly.
  • Do not spray in enclosed areas.
  • Some bug spray products cannot be used on children under three years old, so always check the label to make sure.
  • What Makes Fireflies Light Up?
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  • Why Do Bee Stings Hurt So Bad?

This article was provided by Life’s Little Mysteries, a sister site to LiveScience.

What Chemicals do Exterminators Use for Bed Bugs?

In this article, we examine some of the most effective bed bug treatment substances. So if you are the type of people who keep on wondering what chemicals bed bug exterminators use to get rid of bed bugs, this is the article for you!

Currently, in the US, for example, there are over 310 types of chemical substances that one can use to get rid of bedbugs in homes cars and business premises.

While most of the chemicals may be accessed over the counter, some of these chemicals are reserved for expert or professional pest control agencies.

The limitation is usually put in place to minimize cases where maximum risk pesticides fall into the hands of people who are not competent enough to use them because this may result in accidents and casualties.

Regulation of Pesticides that Kill bed bugs

The EPA is responsible for the regulation of the substances used to treat bed bug infestation. As such, it has put in place guidelines to be followed before a given drug is made available to the consumer market.

First, the EPA demands that the manufacturers of the pesticides to register with the organization to ensure all aspects ranging from effectiveness and safety are understood.

The EPA, therefore, ensures that:

  • Proper dissemination of current information to both the public and professional pest control agencies on the use of certain pesticides
  • There is research and development of new effective chemicals to kill bed bugs
  • The public is properly educated about bed bugs and effective safety precautions when using the chemicals

Professional Bed Bug Chemicals – Most Effective Pesticides

The strongest bed bug killers have been categorized into 8 main categories. The classification is generally based on how these chemicals work while exterminating the bed bugs. These classifications are:

#1 Pyrethroids

These are synthetic chemicals that are poisonous to the bed bugs. They are manufactured to get rid of most of the household pests such as mosquitoes, silverfish, and mites.

The only challenge one may face when dealing with these bed bugs is the resistance from some bedbug strains.

Mode of Action:Poisonous and Flushing Out

Advantages:Kills bed bugs fast

Disadvantages:Some bed bugs may develop resistance

#2 Pyrethrins

Pyrethrins are similar to pyrethroids only that they are natural they come from the pyrethrum plant. Pyrethrins are also commonly used in pesticides to get rid of other household pests and parasites such as cockroaches, mosquitoes and mites.

Mode of Action:Flushing out and poisonous to bed bugs

Advantages:Kill bed bugs instantly

Disadvantages:Bed bugs may develop resistance

NB: It should be noted that in cases where bed bugs develop resistance, it may necessitate a combination of both pyrethrins and pyrethroids for a double impact approach

#3 Neonicotinoids

These compounds work in a very unique way. Their mode of operation is movie-like, especially at the cellular level. Anyways, for anyone who understands how the nervous system in living organisms works, the mode of action here is easily understandable.

As may be deduced from the name neonicotinoids contain nicotine but in synthetic form. They target the bed bug nerves causing them to fire repeatedly and uncontrollably resulting in nervous failure. The nervous failure guarantees the death of the bed bugs.

Mode of action:Attacks bed bugs nervous system

Advantage:Kills bed bugs resistance to both pyrethrins and pyrethroids

#4 Biochemicals

While there are many chemicals used to kill bed bugs, neem oil is the only biochemical authorized to ill bed bugs and their eggs in the US. This magic oil prevents further reproduction of these bugs. Inability to produce ensures they quickly get extinct.

Mode of Action:Affects the bed bugs reproductive cycle

Advantage:It is generally safe for the users

#5 Pyrroles

Pyrroles are chemicals which get into action after they have been activated by another compound, in this case, the targeted pest. When the bedbugs come into contact with the pyrrole, they release a chemical which reacts with the pyrroles creating a new harmful compound that then kills the bed bugs.

The only acceptable pyrrole in the US currently is Chlorfenapyr (C15H11BrClF3N2O), and it may also be used to get rid of mosquitos.

Mode of Action:Creates a poisonous compound when in contact with the bed bugs

#6 Desiccants

Desiccants such as diatomaceous earth and boric acid work in a unique way. These compounds attack the bed bugs physically by destroying their exoskeleton.

Once the exoskeleton has been destroyed, dehydration due to excessive loss of moisture leads to the dehydration of the bugs and subsequent death.

Care should be taken by using only desiccants authorized by the EPA.

Mode of Action:Attack bed bug’s exoskeleton and cause dehydration

Advantages:Acts long term

Disadvantages: Pose inhalation risk to the users

#7 Insect Growth Regulators

These bed bug extermination chemicals work uniquely. They affect the bed bugs at the growth level by either hastening or slowing down growth.

Slowed or hastened growth means they do not achieve the reproductive age the proper and that make it hard to reproduce. In the long run, the bed bug population is destroyed.

Mode of Action:Attacks the growth rate of bed bugs

Advantage:They do not affect the bed bug lifestyle as they work.

Disadvantage:Slow action process

#8 Narrow Use Chemicals

This refers to specific chemical compounds used for treating bed bug infestations in small spaces/rooms. An example in this category is an organophosphate known as DDVP.

Mode of action:Small-space poisoning

Advantage:Highly effective

Disadvantages:Limited usage and application in homes, offices, and cars

FAQs on Pesticides that kill bed bugs

Below are the commonly asked questions insofar as effective and professional bed bug treatment chemicals are concerned.

What chemical kills bed bugs and their eggs?

In a study involving approved label rates conducted by the EPA, it was determined that neem oil is an effective chemical to kill both bed bug eggs, nymphs and adults

What chemicals does Orkin use to control bed bugs?

Orkin uses conventional chemicals, which include pyrethrins, pyrethroids, and desiccants to get rid of bed bugs in homes.

Bed Bug Infestation: Risks from Pesticides and Insecticides

Getting rid of a bed bug infestation can become costly, but it doesn’t have to pose a risk to your health.

Eliminating a bed bug infestation from your home can get costly, but it doesn’t have to pose a risk to your health.

Pesticides and insecticides contain toxic chemicals as a way of eradicating pests. The chemicals may include a carcinogen, which is any substance that is directly involved in causing cancer. Pesticides include two types of chemicals, active and inert. The active ingredients kill or repel the pest, and inert chemicals are used for other purposes, including attracting the pest or increasing shelf life.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires pesticide and insecticide companies to list the active ingredients on their packaging. Although inert ingredients may be toxic, the EPA doesn’t require companies to label them.

Each pesticide must include a signal word to describe its level of toxicity, which you can find capitalized on the front of the pesticide can. The signal wordcautiontells you that the pesticide is slightly toxic,warningindicates moderate toxicity anddangerwarns that the product is highly toxic.

You can swallow a pesticide, inhale it or absorb it through your eyes and skin. The most common way to become exposed to pesticides is through your skin, and you may experience an acute, delayed or allergic reaction if you absorb the pesticide in this way. You should expect to experience an acute reaction within the first 24 hours after exposure. Your skin may develop itchy skin irritations, blisters and cracking.

Delayed effects can include chronic illnesses that occur several years after the pesticide exposure. The delayed effect is harder to measure but includes the development of tumors that may be cancerous.

Allergic reactions occur as a side effect from the exposure that most people would not experience. You can develop the allergy after your initial exposure to the pesticide. Upon using a pesticide for the second or third time, you may experience allergic reactions such as asthma, skin and nose irritation.

Your best bet is hiring a pest control professional who specializes in environmentally friendly bed bug eradication procedures. Heat treatment is a common alternative to rid your home of a bed bug infestation. Bed bugs are known to survive in temperatures up to 113 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you’ve encountered bed bugs when traveling, throw your clothes in the dryer before walking into your home. Clothes dryers exceed the temperature necessary to kill bed bugs, and this can prevent the infestation from spreading.

Editor’s note:This is an updated version of an article originally posted on Dec. 10, 2012.

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