Bug Bombs – Are they safe and do they work?

Bug Bombs are a tempting solution for DIY pest control. It’s a common misconception that you just set them off and leave the premises. When used incorrectly, they pose serious hazards and potential fire risks. And even then, they still may not control a pest population.

What are bug bombs?

Bug Bombs are also referred to as “Home Insect Foggers”. Usually the active ingredient is a pyrethrin, and some also have repellents in their ingredients. A bug bomb is commonly set up inside a room on a table top, where the user removes a tab affixed to the top of the can. Immediately, the can disperses the product throughout the indoor air environment, and then the aerosol droplets eventually settle onto surfaces.

Do they work?

Not really. Most insects like to nest inside cracks and crevices. That’s why professional pest control operators direct pesticide product into the cracks and crevices to target where the pests are hiding out. Bug bombs will not penetrate cracks and crevices, so the product often does not even come into contact with the pest. Also, they contain repellents that may cause insects to scatter further into the wall voids.

What are the risks?

There are two main risks as a result of using bug bombs.

  1. When using a bug bomb, it is important to realize that the product will come into contact with everything within the indoor air environment, including utensils, countertops, foods, appliances, pet food, pet water, etc. If a homeowner fails to cover all of these items, then the risk of an occupant ingesting the product exists. Breathing in the product after it has been dispensed can also cause respiratory distress, especially for those with asthma.
  2. Bug bombs are highly flammable, and have been reported to cause house fires and house explosions after coming into contact with a lit pilot light.

Because bug bombs carry significant risks, and are one of the least reliable methods of pest control available, we don’t recommend them.

More Information:

Limitations of Home Insect Foggers – Michael F. Potter, Extension Entomologist, University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture, Department of Entomology

Bug Bombs – Pesticide Program, Washington State Department of Health

Can Bug Bombs Really Explode? – National Pesticide Information Center

Bed Bugs vs. Bug Bombs: The Bugs Win – Time Magazine, June 4, 2012


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