What pesticides can be used to kill bed bugs?


Quick Answer

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has registered nine different classes of pesticides that eliminate bedbugs, seven for general use and two with limited applications. Pyrethrins, pyrethroids, desiccants, biochemicals, pyrroles, neonicotinoids and insect growth regulators comprise about 300 products on the market. The other two classes face tight regulations.

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Full Answer

Dichlorvos and propoxur are the two chemical classes of pesticides that face tight restrictions. Dichlorvos can be used as a pest strip to treat small spaces. Propoxur can only be used in industrial and commercial structures where no children would be present.

Each of the chemical classes works differently to kill bed bugs. Using multiple chemicals from different chemical families increases the effectiveness of the treatment because it keeps the bugs from developing resistance as easily.

Pyrethrins derive from chrysanthemums, and pyrethroids are synthetic insecticides that work like pyrethrins; these two chemicals are the most common bed bug treatments. They often drive bed bugs from the crevices where they hide and kill them.

Desiccants erode the bed bug's waxy outer shell, leading to dehydration and death. Because this is a physical rather than chemical process, bed bugs do not develop resistance. Boric acid and diatomaceous earth are the most common examples.

The only biochemical pesticide for bed bugs is cold pressed neem oil; it kills bed bugs in adult, nymph and egg stages. Chlorfenapyr is the only pyrrole registered to fight bed bugs, which develop an internal chemical in response to application that disrupts cellular functions, causing death. Neonicotinoids cause nerves to keep firing until they fail, and insect growth regulators either stop or accelerate development, leading to death.

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