Bed bug infestations have become a growing concern in the United States to the point where a piece of legislation called the Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite Act of 2009 was created to address the issue. New pesticides designed to kill bed bugs and their eggs enter the market frequently. These products use one of three mechanisms to stop infestations and/or kill existing bed bugs and their eggs.
Insect Growth Regulators
The life cycle of a bed bug runs anywhere from 8 months to just over a year, according to the Bed Bug.org reference site. Within that time, a single bug can hatch as many as 300 to 500 eggs. Pesticides that work as insect growth regulators target the newly hatched eggs rather than the adult population. Insect growth regulators work by impairing the development of newly hatched bed bugs, which prevents them from producing new generations. It takes an average of 7 to 12 days before bed bug eggs hatch, so these pesticides only work within this 7- to 12-day period; however, once applied, newly laid eggs are affected as they appear.
Adult bed bug populations survive by feeding off the blood of nearby hosts, such as humans or animals. Pesticide dusts attack adult populations directly, using a spray or dust agent, according to Killer Bed Bugs, a pesticide reference site. These agents are designed to attack existing vulnerabilities within the body of a bed bug. In addition to the blood they ingest, bed bugs stay hydrated by means of an outer waxy coat that seals their exterior surfaces. Pesticide dusts work by breaking down this waxy coat, which causes the bed bug's body to dry out. These dusts consist of fine grains of silica powder or ground glass. When applied in cracks or crevices where bed bugs frequent, the dust clings to their exterior surfaces.
Chemical agents designed to kill bed bugs immediately fall within the category of contact pesticides. According to Killer Bed Bugs, these agents consist of synthetic materials or natural extracts made from chrysanthemum flowers. These materials put off a noxious odor that instantly kills any bed bugs within a treated area. Contact pesticides kill any bed bugs that make contact with the pesticide, either through direct application or by moving across treated surfaces. In some cases, bed bugs can build up a resistance that repels, or keeps them away from treated areas. When this happens, effects from contact applications work to prevent bed bugs from frequenting treated areas rather than actually killing them off.