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 to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

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

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Health

Just In