Ants can be an annoying and persistent problem in homes. It is tempting to look for a fast solution to get rid of them. Bug bomb sprays, also known as insect foggers, appear to be that solution on the surface. But that's all they do: kill ants on the surface. In order to understand why, you need to know more about what bug bombs are, how they work and what needs to take place to get rid of ants permanently.
About Bug Bombs
Bug bombs are aerosol pesticides, usually pyrethrins or pyrethroids, designed to spray pesticide outward once the tab is depressed. They differ slightly from regular bug sprays because the spray remains airborne longer. Most of the spray falls on the surface of your walls, floors, furniture and counters. Very little of the spray penetrates into the cracks and voids where ants live, according to University of Kentucky extension entomologist Michael Potter.
Effects on Inside Ants
Any ants that come into contact with the bug bomb spray while it is wet will be killed. They will not carry the insecticide back to the nest as they would with ant baits. Inside ant nests probably will not be killed because they are too deeply located inside the walls for the bug bomb to reach. Since bug bombs also have a repellent quality, most ants will move deeper into the walls and escape the spray.
Effects on Outside Ants
Most ants build their nests outside and only venture inside homes to find food or water. The ants that venture in are called worker ants. Killing worker ants has little long-term effect on the colony. According to University of Nebraska extension educator Barb Ogg, you can kill almost all the worker ants and still the colony will be able to rebuild. The bug bomb will work as a short-term fix, but the underlying problem is still there and will resurface.
Effects on You
Bug bomb sprays can cause serious health problems, especially when not used as directed. People with respiratory ailments like asthma can react severely to pyrethrins, according to Michael Potter. People often reenter homes too soon after using foggers or use too many and end up breathing the pesticide. This can cause breathing problems, coughing, dizziness, vomiting and nose and throat irritation. People have also been known to enter buildings unaware that bug bombs are being used and be affected by the toxins.
- University of Kentucky; Limitations of Home Insect Foggers (“Bug Bombs”); Michael Potter
- Washington State Department of Health: Bug Bombs
- Seattlepi; Bug Bombs Don't Just Kill Pests: People, Pets Also Sickened by Foggers; Robert McClure
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Ant Control; Barb Ogg
- Colorado State University; Ants in the Home; W.S. Cranshaw; January 2009