There has been an explosion in the “over the counter” pesticide industry, fueled by the massive demand from consumers that are desperately willing to try anything to eradicate a bed bug infestation. These so-called “natural” bed bug control solutions are nothing short of a gimmick, designed to attract a lot of buyers for a product that has been dimmed completely ineffective.
If you look at the EPA website for a list of bed bug insecticides, you will see a list of over 400 different bed bug pesticides.
This has prompted action by the Federal Trade Commission, for deceptive marketing claims. The maker of this bed bug product claimed a mixture of essential oils was sufficient pesticide to “prevent and eliminate bed bug infestations.”
Research conducted by N. Sing, C Wang, and R. Cooper has found the efficacy of most of these products completely non-existent.
Potential of Essential Oil-Based Pesticides and Detergents for Bed Bug Control. 2014. N. Singh, C Wang, & R. Cooper. J. Econ. Entomol. 107(6); DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1603/EC14328
Although most of these products simply contained an overwhelming smell, the ingredients found inside are simply used for aromatherapy. Claiming to their efficacy against bed bugs, the manufacturers mixed cedar, geranoil, clove oil, rosemary, and lemograss oil among others. There were others on the list that simply contained ingredients commonly found in shampoo, potassium sorbate, and a naturally occurring ingredient in peanuts. Nothing special.
The majority of these 11 products failed one of the most fundamental tests. A specific number of bed bugs were placed on a small dish, then they applied the product directly on the bugs. The researchers tracked the progress and efficiency to kill the bed bugs over 1, 3, 5, 7, and 10 days. This was done to ensure the products were tested in longer term dosages, just in case there were any effects.
There were 2 real pesticides included in the test to create a foundation to compare the others to, Temprid SC and Demand CS. Including in the tests, some bed bugs were simply sprayed with water, as a mock test.
According to the test, even 10 days after application, seven of the products failed to kill 50% of the bed bugs that came into direct contact.
The only two products that managed to kill 100% of bed bugs when applied directly were Temprid SC and EcoRaider. Neither of these products acted as repellants in the clim-up tests. Temprid SC is a synthetic pesticide, as well as Demand CS, which did much better after 14 days.
Most Likely Not…
Essential oils are most likely not what caused the bed bugs to die, because some of the active ingredients are also found in the synthetic pesticides. The essential oils by themselves simply cannot kill bed bugs, it is perhaps the formula that makes up the spray. Ingredients like spreaders and solvents that help the liquid be propelled through a sprayer.
Bed bug heat treatments
Any bed bugs you see, will probably mate and continue spreading the infestation. The only tested, confirmed, and proven way to eliminate all bed bugs is by treating them with heat. A bed bug’s only defense for heat is to run, which is futile considering the propane bed bug heaters transform the interior of any structure into an oven.
For example, a product that contains Soybean Oil is by far, the worst performer of all. This product sells for $84 a gallon, as well as another with Cinnamon Oil at a mere $90 a gallon! Unfortunately for consumers, the FIFRA exempts “Natural” pesticides from actually providing efficacy data.