Why Bug Bombs Do Not Work

//Why Bug Bombs Do Not Work

Why Bug Bombs Do Not Work

This article was written by Aaron Veal Owner of Phoenix Pest Control.


If I had a dollar for every time I met a new customer who told me they tried bug bombs before calling me I would be able to retire. In every single case these people used way too many bug bombs. They created a potentially dangerous situation. Not to mention it didn’t work. If it did, they wouldn’t have called. I know there is at least one of you yelling at your screen saying I am wrong. Read the rest of this post and if you have any questions, just let me know.

Active Ingredients

Let’s start with the active ingredients. This is the chemical that actually does the killing. Go to the local “Wally World”. Look at the plethora of products. You will often find aerosol cans of bug killer. One will be labeled for roaches. Another one will be labeled for spiders. The AI is often exactly the same, marketing genius. They want you to buy one to kill roaches and one to kill spiders. Most people do not realize that either would do the job. However, in Tennessee, the label is the law. This means that the label states what you can and can’t do with the product. The label is legally binding. It is federal law! They only put the one pest on the label legally. This stops you from using it for other pests. In all likelihood, it doesn’t stop many people from using it for multipurposes. How well do you know the label on your can of bug killer?

The active ingredients used in bug bombs, are ingredients also used by professionals. The catch is 2-fold. The concentrations are often diluted in consumer products. This is because the manufacturer doesn’t trust the general public to read the instructions. Once again, how well do you know the label on your can of bug spray? Admit it, 90% of the time you never read the instructions! Lower concentrations of active ingredients in ready to use products gives the manufacturer less liability. A weaker product does less damage when it is misapplied.

The other issue is quality. How the active ingredients are produced makes a big difference. The synthetic pyrethroids used in these products can be created many different ways. Like anything other product, there are brand names and there are knock-offs. Professional pest control products utilize technologies like micro-encapsulation. “Micro-caps” lengthen the effectiveness of the application.

This is where the magic happens. Bug killer kills the bugs you spray directly. The difference in quality is what that bug killer does tomorrow, next week, and next month. The technology used in professional products are far superior to over the counter insecticides.

Bug Bomb Application

Now with the inferior ingredients aside, let’s look at how bug bombs physically work. You set the bug bomb container on the floor. You hit the button to release the fog. Then you run out the door as if you pulled the pin on a grenade using your teeth. What happens in the house while you are exiled from it? If you were to stay and watch, (please do not) you would find:

  • Pesticide spouting 2-3 feet high off each can.
  • Then the fog dissipates out around the room.

Most of the product falls right back down to the ground though. This proves Mr. Newton’s Law carries some weight. I have no doubt that everything with 6 legs, unfortunate to be in that small circle of fog, gets toasted. But that’s not where the problem is. If you are bombing for fleas, no product gets under the furniture or between the couch cushions. This is where most of the fleas are!

Flea dirt under couch in Cleveland, OH- Lakewood Exterminating

Flea dirt underneath couch cushions.

If you are bombing for roaches it doesn’t get into all the little nooks and crannies that cockroaches love to hide in. The same goes for bed bugs and just about any other pest. Unless you are engulfed in a swarm of flies, what’s the point of using bug bombs?

The active ingredients in bug bombs are pyrethroids. To make matters worse, the pyrethroids are repellent in nature. Repellents push pests into crevices where they are protected. The results of bug bombs are abyssmal. The active ingredients are the same ingredients that are found in professional pest control products. It is not so much about the active ingredient as much as where you put it.

Bug bombs are just plain lazy. It’s a reflection of our society searching for that magic pill that cures everything fast and easy. Bug Bombs just don’t fit this bill. Inferior products at lower concentrations that are simply ineffective.

Bug Bomb Safety

Now let’s get into safety. For starters, I am a professional Pest Control Operator. Even with the products I have at my disposal, I rarely use foggers. In fact it has been so long that I can’t tell you the last time. Why don’t I use bug bombs? The control they provide does not exceed the safety risks. These products often leave a greasy film all over the top of horizontal surfaces. Those surfaces are not where it needs to be in order to be effective. And you will need to clean them before you make use of these surfaces again.

As we have already discussed, most of you didn’t read the instructions (which is required by law). Most of you also missed the part about “turning off the pilot light” on your stove and furnace. There have been several cases of people blowing up their homes. Bug bombs turn into a real bombs when the pesticide gets ignited by the pilot light. The Mythbusters even did this test. They proved that it really can happen.

Here is what the Washington State Health Department has to say about the dangers of bug bombs.
And if you are still not convinced, see what the Entomology department at the University of Kentucky has to say on the matter.

If you have more questions feel free to contact me. aaronv@phoenixpestcontroltn.com. Phoenix Pest Control services Knox and Blount Counties in East Tennessee.

By |2018-02-06T09:13:34+00:00November 22nd, 2017|Tips and Tricks Articles|0 Comments

About the Author:

The Owner of Lakewood Exterminating is Shawn Payne- a formally educated Horticulturist with nearly two decades experience. Shawn began his career in the Green Industry in Autumn 1998, when he was just 15 years old. He has a Certificate in Horticulture from the Polaris Career Center, where he was named Outstanding Student his senior year.  During Spring of 1999, Polaris Career Center provided Shawn the opportunity to work at Sunset Memorial Park under the care of Wayne Jewell. Wayne trained Shawn in advanced pruning techniques and how to apply pesticides properly. Shawn graduated with a 3.11 GPA in Nursery Management and Landscape Construction and Contracting from the Ohio State Agricultural Technical Institute in 2003. During his time at the Institute; Shawn balanced studying for his dual degrees with tutoring a Student in Entomology (insects), and mentoring the School's Botany class. Shawn also traveled abroad to Myerscough College to study horticulture in the United Kingdom. Since graduation, Shawn has worked for the Davey Resource Group and as a Gardener for the City of Cleveland. He took care of the Cultural Gardens and the Rockefeller Park Greenhouse while working for the City of Cleveland. Shawn was hired in September 2008 to be mainly responsible for the pest control, animal trapping, and weed control at NASA Glenn Research Center. He multi-tasked grounds-keeping duties: Landscaping, heavy equipment operation, snow-removal, lawn mowing, tree removal, pruning, general construction, street repair, water line repair, and much more on site from 2008-2016. During his time at NASA Glenn Research Center Shawn and his former Partner brought their two wonderful daughters into the world. After the birth of their first child, Shawn started his business- Advantage Landscape Services. This was to provide security to his family due to multiple threats of budget cuts at his full-time job. After his former Employer lost the maintenance contract in late 2015- Shawn's Supervisor was let go, and his main duties as the Lab's Pesticide Applicator were outsourced to two separate companies. With a wife, a 2 year old, and 4 year old daughter to provide for: Shawn transformed his part-time landscaping business into a full-time pest control business. Since business has been established, they have gained over 50 reviews on Google- everyone of them 5 stars.