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University entomology departments all over the United States often receive questions from the public concerning the efficacy of “bug bombs”. A bug bomb is a do-it-yourself method of eradicating insect infestations within a home or building. The term “bug bomb” is a popular nickname for what is more accurately termed a “total-release pesticide fogger”. A pesticide fogger is a product that resembles a can which can release pesticide “fog” within a structure. Bug bombs are meant to be placed on a stool or table in the middle of a room inside an infested structure. After a bug bomb is properly placed, a tab is removed which causes insecticides to spray from the top of the product. The insecticide spreads like a fog throughout a structure where it supposedly kills insect pest invaders. While bug bombs are easy to use they are also largely ineffective at eradicating insect infestations within a home, as the insecticide fog fails to reach cracks, voids and other small and secluded areas where insect pests congregate within homes and buildings. Research has shown that bug bombs are ineffective at eradicating bed bugs, cockroaches, termites, ants and many other common insect pests in homes and buildings. In fact, bug bombs may be more dangerous to the occupants of a home than the insect pests that the bombs are meant to kill.

A new research study conducted by North Carolina State University entomologist, Zachary DeVries, has shown that bug bombs are not only ineffective at eradicating cockroach infestations, but the product can also be a toxic hazard to a home’s occupants. For the study, DeVries compared the efficacy of professional gel bait-traps to bug bombs when it came to eradicating cockroach infestations in homes. Of the 30 roach-infested homes selected for the study, ten were outfitted with gel bait-traps while the remaining 20 made use of bug bombs. Results showed that the gel bait-traps used by professional insect pest controllers reduced cockroach populations by two thirds. However, homes treated with bug bombs had no effect on populations of cockroaches within homes, and in some cases, the amount of cockroaches within an infested home actually increased during bug bomb treatment. Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have documented several cases of bug bombs exposing home-occupants to toxic chemicals, and this problem is naturally exacerbated by people who set off multiple bug bombs within their home. If your home should become infested with bugs, then it may be best to forego the bug bombs in favor of a professional treatment.

Have you, or anyone you know, ever used bug bombs to eradicate insects within a home?