Do natural pesticide sprays really get rid of bed bugs?

close up of a bed bug
CC BY 3.0 Josef Reischig

As people become concerned about the potential dangers of home-use pesticides for bed bugs, a number of more natural products have been developed. Non-synthetic bed bug sprays are on the market, which use essential oils, alcohol and other substances to fight infestations.

But how effective are these products? Researchers at Rutgers University tested 11 different non-synthetic bedbug sprays, and their findings were recently published in the Journal of Economic Entomology. They analyzed the following products:

  • Bed Bug 911
  • Bed Bug Bully
  • Bed Bug Fix
  • Bed Bug Patrol
  • Ecoexempt IC2
  • EcoRaider
  • Eradicator
  • Essentria
  • Rest Assured
  • Green Rest Easy
  • Stop Bugging Me

The researchers sprayed the products directly onto adult bed bugs. They found that only EcoRaider and Bed Bug Patrol killed 90 percent or more of the bugs. EcoRaider was found to kill 87 percent of bed bug eggs, while all the others “had little effect on bed bug eggs.” EcoRaider’s active ingredients include geraniol, cedar extract, and sodium lauryl sulfate, which is an organic compound that can be derived from coconut or palm oils. Bed Bug Patrol’s active ingredients include clove oil, peppermint oil, and sodium lauryl sulfate.

Interestingly, some of the less effective sprays contained many of the same active ingredients as the effective ones, which means that some of the inactive ingredients may play an important role or create synergistic effects with the essential oils.

It should also be noted that the lab conditions favored the products somewhat compared to real-life situations, because spraying bed bugs directly is often difficult as they hide and scatter. “These findings suggest that EcoRaider and Bed Bug Patrol are potentially useful pesticides for controlling bed bug infestations, but further testing in naturally infested environments is needed,” the authors write.

Have you used a natural bed bug spray? What has been your experience?

Tags: Bedrooms | Cleaning

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