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17 Bed Bugs Sprays Facts: Is It Safe & Does It Really Work?


Reading Time: 11 minutes

In case you have been hearing about the current bed bug resurgence, then you are probably dreading facing a bed bug infestation. Bed bugs have been back for a while now. What’s more worrying is that these fearsome little vampires are ferocious than ever. They are extremely difficult to kill as they are resistant to most traditional insecticides.

In the past, a bed bug infestation was something that could be easily controlled. But as of today, you need all the firepower you can get to exterminate these bloodsuckers.

There are numerous methods and products that you can use to combat these vile creatures. Some of them include heat treatment, powders, and sprays. People have been asking whether there are potent sprays that can eliminate bed bugs for good.

Bed bug spray formulations are some of the most preferred methods of killing bed bugs. In recent years, they have been marred with uncertainties as far as performance is concerned. In this article, we seek to examine the efficacy and safety of bed bug spray. Do they even work? Here are 17-bed bug’s sprays facts;

1. Bed bugs have become resistant to common bed bug sprays

Bed bugs have shown strong resistance to some of the most common bug sprays. Cimex lectularius, which is known as the common bed bug, has exhibited great resistance to most bug killer sprays, including deltamethrin and pyrethroids. This means that you can no longer rely on just any bed bug spray to get rid of bed bugs.

You might wonder how bed bugs developed resistance against sprays. We’ll tell you how. Bed bug sprays have been used for years. Thousands of homeowners rush to the stores and buy these sprays whenever threatened by these filthy creatures. Due to the continuous use of this kind of insecticide for a prolonged period, bed bugs have developed a thick cuticle.

The thick cuticle acts as an armor to guard them against insecticides. As a result, some sprays no longer penetrate bed bug bodies as before. In short, over the years, common bed bug sprays have been overused. This has happened to such an extent that bed bugs have developed a resistance to them, which was evident even before DDT was banned.  This has only made matters worse by giving these creatures more leeway to infest our homes.  Nonetheless, there are new promising bed bug treatments on the market that help control infestations, namely Bedlam bed bug sprays and Diatomaceous Earth.

2. Bed bug sprays are more effective when used with other treatment methods

Gone are the days when a single spray eliminated bed bugs. No bug spray has exhibited 100% efficiency in killing bed bugs.

So what is the best bed bug spray?

The answer to this question is clear cut. There isn’t any magic spray that you could use in your home to eradicate these creatures.

Does this mean that you should completely give up on bug sprays? The answer is NO. There are still ways in which you could apply bed bug sprays effectively.

Instead of just using a spray as the sole bed bug control method, combining it with other proven pest control methods works better. For instance, bed bug sprays are effective when used as a follow-up treatment after heat treatment.

Bed bugs can survive for a long time without feeding. This helps them to lay low and evade insecticides. Once the spray wears off, you’ll be surprised to find these creatures lurking around. This is another reason why you have to combine sprays with other treatment methods.

3. Bed bug sprays are only safe when used right

Most bed bug treatment products are sprays. But you should always remember that these are insecticides made from chemicals that could be detrimental to your health when ingested or inhaled.

Is there a safe bug spray?

Unfortunately, no bed bug spray would pass as ‘safe’ if you don’t read the application instructions on the label and follow them strictly.

Therefore, bug sprays are only safe if used right. When choosing a bed bug killer spray, its safety depends on whether it is approved. After confirming that, you need to check whether it’s suitable for outdoor or indoor use. A spray that is made for outdoor use can be extremely toxic if used behind closed doors.

Usually, when you buy bug spray to eliminate these torturous creatures, you may be tempted to spray everywhere you expect bed bugs to be hiding. Or double the stipulated treatment dosage. Remember that some of these areas include your mattress and headboard. The best thing is to always spray as indicated to avoid coming into dangerous contact with the spray.

4. Bed bug spray only kills the visible bed bugs

When struggling to quell a bed bug infestation, you might be tempted to imagine that a bug spray from the hardware is all you need. Unfortunately, it is not that easy.

Sprays are not that effective. Why? Bed bug sprays only kill the bugs that you can see.

As you may know, bed bugs are great at hiding. They will hide in inaccessible places, mostly because their harborages include cracks and crevices.

Let’s even say that you are lucky enough to find the cracks, and you’ve got the right weapon, which is a bug spray with a proven track record, you see some bed bugs right at the opening of a crack and spray them. In a few minutes, they are all dead. Sadly, the crack is likely to be deep and inaccessible, and there could be more bed bugs in there as well as eggs. Common bed bug sprays don’t penetrate as much, which means that your bed bug problem is far from over.

Bed bug sprays are only effective when they come in direct contact with these bloodsuckers. But you need something else to eliminate even those that are hidden.

These creatures are also known to disperse and avoid insecticides. This happens as soon as they are exposed to it. They will crawl and find other hiding spots, making it hard for you to kill them.

When bed bugs scamper for safety to adjacent units, especially those that you don’t have access to, the battle becomes bigger. They continue breeding, and as soon as the coast clears, a re-infestation occurs.

5. Bed bug sprays work by repelling or killing bed bugs

As we pointed out earlier, bed bug sprays only kill the exposed bed bugs. But does this mean that you give up on them? Well, it helps to know that some sprays will help keep these pesky creatures at bay.

For instance, Permethrin sprays, like Formula P, linger on the surfaces longer Than other treatments, remaining on the surface for up to 6 weeks. It may not kill the well-hidden bed bugs, but it continues to repel them, and undoubtedly, repelling these stealthy insects is part of the bug control process.

This means that some sprays can help you reduce the bed bug population in your home significantly. This happens when the product you choose can kill and repel them for extended periods.

It is therefore important to check whether a spray kills or repels bed bugs before you buy it. Always read the label to know what to expect from each product.

6. Bed bug sprays are hazardous to humans and domestic animals

Bed bug sprays are pesticides. They are made of toxic and poisonous chemicals that are not only lethal to insects, but also humans and domestic animals.

If the spray accidentally ends up in the wrong places, both you and your pets may be at risk. That is why it is always wise to contact the pest control professionals to help you eliminate bugs.

If you have to exterminate these bloodsuckers by yourself, you might want to wear a mask and keep your pets away, lest you endanger their lives. Usually, most product’s label advises you to keep the pets away and wait till the insecticide dries up.

CDC has recorded some cases where bed bug sprays have caused adverse illnesses to users. Some of the symptoms that have been reported by the victims include headaches, nausea, vomiting, and difficulties in breathing.

7. Bed bug sprays belong to different chemical classes

There are a variety of bed bug sprays which belong to different chemical classes. For this reason, different sprays kill bed bugs differently. Each has a distinct mode of action.

There are about 7 classes of chemical classes under which bed bug sprays are classified.

Pyrethroids and pyrethrins make the composition of most bed bug sprays. Pyrethrins are classified as botanical pesticides and are made from chrysanthemum flowers. On the other hand, pyrethroids are derived from synthetic chemicals. Pyrethroids and pyrethrins have a similar mode of action. Bed bugs have developed a resistance to sprays from these chemical classes.

Desiccant bed bug treatments belong to another class of chemicals. Bed bugs haven’t developed any type of resistance to these pesticides. One of the most common examples of desiccants is Diatomaceous Earth, which works by destroying the protective outer layer of a bed bug. Once this happens, these tiny bloodsuckers become dehydrated and eventually die. Since the powder works through physical action, bed bugs haven’t developed any resistance against them.

Pyrroles are another unique type of bed bug sprays. They work by altering particular functions of the bed bugs cells, killing them in the process.

Neonicotinoids target bed bugs nervous systems. These sprays contain synthetic nicotine, which causes the insect’s nervous system to fail.

8. Most bed bug sprays don’t kill the eggs

If you kill bed bugs but leave their eggs, then you haven’t eliminated the problem yet. Unfortunately, this is what happens with most sprays.

You can manage to bring bed bugs in direct contact with a killer spray, but what about their eggs? Bed bug eggs are hidden far in the cracks and crevices among other suitable harborages. This is because the female bed bugs tend to lay eggs in hidden areas to increase their chances of survival.

Therefore, a spray is only able to kill the bugs but barely reaches the hidden eggs.

Later, the eggs hatch and you have a fresh breed of bed bugs looking forward to biting you at night. This only takes a couple of weeks.

You can prevent this from happening by using a bug spray that contains an insect growth regulator to stop the bed bug life cycle and consequently get rid of them.

9. Contact sprays and residual sprays

Bed bug sprays are classified into two categories, residual sprays and contact sprays. As we said earlier, a majority of sprays kill the bedbugs that are visible. Nonetheless, bed bugs are hard to find. They remain hidden in their harborages during the day and come out at night to feed.

These pesky parasites are drawn out by CO2 and the warmth emanating from your body. At this time of the night, you are bound to be fast asleep. So, you miss out on all the bed bug action, but wake up with itchy skin from the bites. If you are lucky enough to uncover a bed bug harborage in your house, a contact spray may kill them instantly.

Can sprays kill the bed bugs that we don’t see? Contact sprays don’t kill the bed bugs that are out of reach. This is where the second category of bed bug sprays come in, the residual sprays.

Residual sprays leave a residue on the sprayed surfaces, which helps to kill the bed bugs that you may have missed with fast killing contact sprays. Various studies have shown that residue sprays are not 100% effective. They only work when the surfaces they are sprayed on are on the bed bugs’ paths or near their hideouts.

10. Bed bug sprays are both inexpensive and convenient

The resurgence of bed bugs has kept pest control experts busy as they try to find new ways to combat these parasites. What’s making their job harder is the resilience of these bloodsuckers, besides their fast reproduction, these stubborn insects are hardy. Killing them is not as easy as we would think. For this reason, some of the most effective bed bug treatment methods such as heat treatment have become expensive.

Luckily, bed bug sprays are both inexpensive and convenient. You can find them in most stores such as Wal-Mart.

What makes it even better is that bug sprays are accessible at affordable prices.

11. Bed bug spray kits are more effective

Bed bugs are resistant to some of the insecticides used to eliminate them. According to experts, the odds of controlling an infestation are much higher when you use a combination of sprays.

First off, different sprays have a differing mode of action when it comes to killing bed bugs. This means that if you stumble upon bed bugs that are resistant to a particular chemical class, you will kill them with a different one. Moreover, using both residual and contact sprays increases the chances of putting the bed bug infestation under control.

When you call professional exterminators, they show up with combinations of bed bug treatment products, because they don’t want to skip any step. They want to be as thorough as possible while bringing the bed bug menace in your home to a halt.

12. It takes numerous applications of bed bug sprays to control an infestation

Ever since the bed bug resurgence, these pesky parasites have shown immense tenacity. They have become much harder to kill. Some have shown a worrying tolerance to common insecticide sprays.

Additionally, bed bugs hide extremely well. For this reason, experts have always argued that you can’t expect to win the fight against these little vampires by spraying once. It takes a few weeks for their eggs to hatch, and all of a sudden, you have another army of bloodsuckers to deal with.

When you go to your GP with a stomach problem, various medications are prescribed. This is usually a dose that you have to take for several days to eliminate the problem.

The same case applies to a bed bug infestation. You have to spray the first time and repeat after a few days or weeks. This tremendously reduces these insects’ chances of survival.

Several applications of bed bugs spray are required to put the infestation under control. This is extremely helpful where the infestation has been going on for a while.

13. Incorrect usage of bed bug sprays disperses bed bugs

Pesticide bed bug sprays have to be used as directed on their labels. Otherwise, you risk dispersing these insects to other areas. When they scatter to avoid the insecticide and move to adjacent rooms, it becomes quite difficult to quell the infestation.

Bed bug sprays can sometimes worsen an infestation. This is rampant in multi-units apartments. For instance, you may attempt to get rid of bed bugs by spraying them with an insecticide, and as a reaction to this, the bed bugs may crawl to the neighboring units, making the situation even worse.

14. Bed bug sprays are harmful when used in poorly ventilated areas

When professionals are called to eliminate a bed bug infestation, they often provide some guidelines before beginning the process. They may ask you to stay away for a few hours after they apply the insecticides.

The good thing with professionals is that they have the right gear for the fumigation process, including masks. If you take it upon yourself to use bed bug sprays, you must adhere to the safety requirements, including getting the right gear.

The rule of thumb is that proper ventilation is a must for your safety. Poorly ventilated rooms increase your chances of breathing in the pesticide in large amounts, which is severely detrimental to your health and should be avoided at all costs.

For this reason, you should ensure that the room you intend to spray is well ventilated before you begin working on it. In case an infested room is poorly ventilated, open up the windows, and after you are done spraying, leave the room for the stipulated time.

15. Bed bug sprays are ideal for low-level infestations

Bed bug infestations vary in severity. Your house may either be riddled with hundreds of bed bugs or just a few. If you have only suffered minimal bed bug bites, that may indicate the infestation is not severe. If you thoroughly spray your house, you can eliminate the infestation before it spreads further.

Sprays are ideal for this type of situations. A high level of infestation demands more than just a spray as you may have to call in professional exterminators.

16. Can you spray insecticides on your mattress?

You may experience various limitations with bed bug sprays. While some of them are related to the nature of these parasites, the truth is that bed bug sprays are not ideal for all surfaces. Due to their high levels of toxicity and irritability, it is not advisable to apply them directly on your mattress and continue using it. This also applies to other surfaces that you constantly come into contact with, including electronics, clothes, and bedding.

17. Can bed bug sprays kill other insects?

Most bed bug sprays are made from potent insecticidal chemicals. This means that they don’t spare other insects that they may come into contact with. So, if other insects (including fleas) are hovering around your home, they are likely to meet the same fate as the bed bugs.

Bed bug sprays have been used for decades. DDT was one of the most effective sprays in the past. Unfortunately, it was banned due to public health and environment-related factors. Over the years, other bed bug sprays have been introduced. Insecticidal sprays still spearhead the fight against bed bugs, even with the ongoing, worrying resurgence.

These insecticides are still considered effective, especially as follow up treatment. They may not be as thorough as before, but we can’t control bed bugs without them. If you can find a good spray, then there is no reason as to why you shouldn’t buy it and spray these stealthy parasites.