Few pesticides effectively kill bedbugs, according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Those that do are regulated for use only with licensed professional exterminators, because they are too dangerous. Insecticide treatments need to be used more than once in order to eliminate bedbug infestations.
Pyrethrin and Pyrethroids
Pyrethrin, made from chrysanthemum flowers, can kill bed bugs. Synthetic pyrethrin is called a pyrethroid and it is often less expensive and more potent than pyrethrin. Many kinds of pyrethroid pesticides kill bed bugs, but ones used specifically for bed bugs include permethrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, bifenthrin and deltamethrin. Unfortunately, bed bugs can become resistant to both pyrethrin and pyrethroids if they survive being exposed to these insecticides. These survivors can pass their resistance to their nymphs. (
The advantage of using chlorfenapyr is that bed bugs have not developed a resistance to it yet. The disadvantage is that it takes at least 10 days to kill a bed bug infestation, according to Penn State University's Entomology Department. During this time, the homeowner needs to vacuum floors, wash bedding, repair any cracks in the walls or floorboards where bed bugs can hide and wait out the effects of an insecticide treatment.
An insect growth regulator called hydrorpene or S-hydroprene does not kill bed bugs, but can cause bed bug larvae, called nymphs, to not mature into breeding adults. Since the nymphs cannot breed, the population is greatly reduced. Insect growth regulators can be added to liquid insecticides or may already be included in a professional insecticide. To best eliminate bed bug infestations, the insect growth regulator has to be used along with an insecticide and housecleaning practices.
Pesticides for bed bugs will not work unless the home is prepared before treatment. Beds need to be stripped of all linens and, if the exterminator recommends, mattresses discarded. Clutter needs to be removed as a messy room provides far more bed bug hiding places than a tidy room. The exterminator will need to spray into baseboards, walls, electrical outlets floors and any place bed bugs hide. All the rooms of a house need to be treated at the same time or the bed bugs will migrate to an untreated room, wait and then go right back.
- Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; Ned Bug Treatment Using Insecticides; Dini M. Miller, Ph.D.
- Cornell University Integrated Pest Management: FAQ List for Bedbugs
- University of California Davis; Bed Bugs; May, 2009
- Penn State University Entomology; Bed Bugs; Steve Jacobs; July 2007
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images
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