don't use a bed bug fogger!

A bed bug fogger (bug bomb) seems like a quick-fix for those nasty little suckers, right?


Here are 3 reasons they don't work and 5 ways they make things worse and prolong your agony. Even worse, there are two ways they can be dangerous.

This information is critical!

The page is pretty long, but this is must-know information. So if you just need the main points, here they are in bullet form:

Three Reasons "Bed Bug Foggers" Don't Work

  • They can't reach the bed bugs to kill them
  • The ingredients in foggers are primarily contact killers
  • They have a low concentration of pesticide 

Five Ways Using a Fogger as a Bed Bug Treatment Makes Things Worse

  • It spreads the infestation - wider and deeper
  • It creates/increases pesticide resistance
  • It delays the effectiveness of other bed bug treatments
  • It helps the bed bug population grow
  • It makes getting professional help difficult and costly

Two Ways Foggers Can Be Dangerous

  • They can make you sick
  • They can cause explosions and house fires

If you are not easily convinced or want links to the scientific research, please read the whole article. This is really important!

(The headers above also link to that section of the page if you just want to read specific parts.)

3 Reasons Foggers Don't Kill
Most Bed Bugs

1. Foggers can't reach the Bed Bugs to Kill Them

When most people think of foggers or “bug bombs”, they think they are something akin to gas fumigation which penetrates all of the voids in the treatment area.  

But, that's not really how foggers work. 

They use an aerosol propellant to disperse the contents through the air in a very fine mist, which settles onto all of the surfaces in the area. It's true that they do get the pesticide all over everything that is out in the open. But it doesn't get inside, underneath or behind anything.

That's bad news because bed bugs hide when they aren't feeding. So most of them just don't come into contact with it.

2. The ingredients in foggers are primarily contact killers

Even so-called "Bed Bug Foggers" have been proven to have low residual effectiveness. That means they lose much of their power to kill once they dry. They contain pesticides that need to make contact with bed bugs to be most effective.

Since we already know they can't reach the majority of bed bugs in their hiding places, that's more bad news.

3. Foggers have a low concentration of pesticide 

So what about the few they do reach? The pesticides in foggers have been shown to kill bed bugs under certain conditions. But there's not a high concentration of those chemicals in foggers.

A controlled study by the Entomology Department at the University of Ohio demonstrated that the ingredients in foggers were ineffective at killing even some of the bed bugs they did reach.


To sum it all up, foggers contain pesticides that primarily are contact killers, but they can't reach the places where most bed bugs hide to kill them. And even if they do come into contact with some bed bugs, the concentration of pesticide is so low it still won't kill some of the ones it reaches.

Still don't believe that foggers don't work on bedbugs?  You don't have to take my word for it...  

Read the abstract of the landmark OSU Entomology Department study on the ineffectiveness of bed bug foggers that was published in Pest Control Technology Online.

Are you convinced they're a bad idea yet? If not, you should know that using foggers to treat a bed bug infestation, will make the situation worse.

Much worse.

5 Ways using a fogger Makes it harder
to get rid of Bed Bugs

1. Foggers spread the infestation wider and deeper.

Typically, bed bugs remain fairly close to (albeit hidden in) the places where they most frequently feed. So in the beginning at least, bed bug infestations are usually concentrated in and around where people sleep or sit for long periods of time.

But, releasing a fogger can change all that.

Foggers cause bed bugs to scatter (to avoid contact).  As a result, the infestation is spread wider as they try to get away from source of the offending chemicals.

But it doesn't stop there.  They also go deeper into the nooks and crannies of your home, trying to find safer shelter.

This is bad for two reasons.  

First, it means that rooms (or units in a multifamily dwelling) that were previously unaffected are now more likely to be infested.

Second, it means that because they've gone deeper into hiding in cracks and crevices, they are harder to find.

2. Foggers create/increase pesticide resistance.

More bad news. The chemicals in foggers have been shown to create or increase pesticide resistance in bed bugs.

Through the low level exposure, they develop a degree of immunity to the pesticide. It's kind of like how we get flu shots to prevent the flu.

And to make matters worse, it's a progressive process. The bed bugs keep getting stronger each time they are exposed in that way.

Sadly, many people use a bed bug fogger hoping it will do the trick. Then... when it doesn't work (or seems to work for a while)...they use one again. It's a vicious cycle. Each time one is released, it increases pesticide resistance.

If you have already used a fogger/bug bomb, please stop now.  Each time you do it you are making them harder and harder to kill!

Since repeated use of foggers makes bed bugs stronger and stronger...doesn't this photo seem a little ironic?

3. Using a fogger delays the effectiveness of other bed bug treatments.

The ingredients in foggers act as a repellent, causing bed bugs to stay hidden more than normal. That could sound like a good thing, right? Well it's not.

Repelling bed bugs is a BAD IDEA.

Sure, you might not be getting bitten as much. You might even think they're gone altogether. But adult bed bugs can live up to 18 months without a blood meal under the right circumstances.

The unfortunate side effect is that many of the other options for killing them require that bed bugs to come into contact with them to work. So if they are hiding deeper and longer, it will delay the effectiveness of those treatments.

In fact, if you've been trying to get rid of bed bugs for a while, and they keep coming back, this is probably the reason.

4. Using a fogger ultimately helps the bed bug population grow.

For all the reasons above, using a fogger to try to kill bugs just prolongs the problem. That's very bad news, and not just for the obvious reason that is sucks to have bed bugs (bad pun intended, sorry!)

Here's the real kicker:

As all this time is passing...your infestation may be getting worse. The longer you have an active bed bug population, the bigger it gets. 

5. All this makes getting professional help difficult and costly.

If you've used a fogger to try to take care of the problem yourself, now you really need professional help. Here comes the worst part...

Some exterminators (not all of them) will refuse to treat your home if you have used a total release fogger. 

Professionals know that if  a fogger has been used, the situation will be much harder to handle because of all of the factors above. At the very least, it's probably going to require more treatments - and therefore more money out of your pocket. 

If you've already used a fogger or “ bed bug bomb” to try to get rid of bed bugs, STOP. And don't do anything else yourself.

Your best bet is to try to find an experienced exterminator that really knows about bed bugs and is willing to treat environments where total release foggers have been released. You can find more help on how to find a good one in the section on working with bed bug exterminators.

By the way, if you think it might be a good idea to just not tell them...think again.

You'll be wasting their time and your money by keeping it a secret.

It's extremely important that you let any exterminator you work with know exactly what you've already done. That way they can take the after-effects into account when they design a pest control strategy for your particular situation.

At this point, a few questions might be entering your mind...

But what if it's specifically labeled for Bed Bugs? All of the information on this page applies to all total release foggers - even the ones like Hot Shot Bed Bug Fogger that have bed bugs on the label.

Then why are these things all over the store shelves? That's a very good question, and one I can't really answer factually. If you want speculation - I suspect it has to do with powerful corporate lobbying. But, that's just my opinion.

I can definitely tell you this: The National Pesticide Information Center, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Centers for Disease Control all have warnings about the ineffectiveness of foggers in for treating a bed bug infestation, as well as the dangers associated with using them posted on their websites.

two Ways Bed Bug Foggers
Can be Dangerous

If all that you've read so far isn't enough to make you stay far, far away from that spray can....or you don't have bed bugs, but you're thinking of using a fogger/bug bomb to try to get rid of some other pest...then please consider the health risks and dangers associated with them.

1. They can make you sick.

When the fogger is released, it spreads the pesticide to everything in your home – or the outside surfaces of it anyway. While the bedbugs can hide inside, underneath, and behind things to avoid the pesticide - you will be exposed to it by everything you touch

A detailed article about frequency and range of illnesses and injuries related to total release foggers was published by the Centers for Disease Control. You can read it here.

2. They can cause explosions and house fires.

For more information about foggers in general and the risk of explosions and house fires, check out the  Can Bug Bombs Really Explode? podcast or read the transcript on the National Pesticide Information Center website.

Note: On this particular podcast, they don't speak to why you shouldn't use foggers for bed bugs.  Instead, they focus on the dangers of using them at all.

Bottom Line?

Bed Bug foggers (also called “total release foggers” or “bug bombs”) are a BAD IDEA if you truly want to get rid of bed bugs.

Unfortunately, there just is no magic trick or cure-all that gets rid of bed bugs. It's simply not a one-shot deal.  Sorry folks, that's just a fact.

The good news is that you can get rid of bed bugs, even if you can't afford an exterminator.

But to do it effectively, you have to get educated about what does and does not work and learn how to take an integrated pest management (or IPM) approach.

Don't worry! You can learn all about that in the Bed Bug Pest Control section of this site.

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