Study of the Day: Over-the-Counter Bedbug Remedies Are Worthless

New research suggests that, to get rid of these disgusting urban pests, it's best to go straight to the professionals.

Study of the DaySebastian Kaulitzki/Shutterstock

PROBLEM: Bug bombs or foggers have been sold for decades to consumers looking to eliminate household insects. Do they really work against bedbugs?

METHODOLOGY: Entomologists Susan C. Jones and Joshua L. Bryant tested three different fogger brands -- Hotshot Bedbug and Flea Fogger, Spectracide Bug Stop Indoor Fogger, and Eliminator Indoor Fogger -- from a nationwide retailer on five different bedbug populations.

RESULTS: The researchers found little, if any, adverse effects on the bedbugs after using the aerosolized total-release foggers. Because most bedbugs hid in protected sites, such as mattresses, crevices, and carpets, the mist from foggers tended to not reach them. If or when they did come into contact, many of them still survived because they had built a resistance to these common insecticides.

CONCLUSION: Retail bug bombs are useless against bedbugs. "If you use these products," says Jones in a statement, "you will waste your money and you will delay effective treatment of your infestation."

IMPLICATION: Call a professional the next time you're attacked by bedbugs.

SOURCE: The full study, "Ineffectiveness of Over-the-Counter Total-Release Foggers Against the Bed Bug (Heteroptera: Cimicidae), ," is published in the Journal of Economic Entomology.

Presented by

Hans Villarica writes for and produces The Atlantic's Health channel. His work has appeared in TIME, People Asia, and Fast Company.

'How Do You Function Without a Cellphone?'

A short documentary about a San Francisco designer who doesn't own a cellphone, and a teenager who can't imagine life without hers.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A History of Contraception

In the 16th century, men used linen condoms laced shut with ribbons.

Video

'A Music That Has No End'

In Spain, a flamenco guitarist hustles to make a modest living.

Video

What Fifty Shades Left Out

A straightforward guide to BDSM

More in Health

Just In