Home Remedies – Are There any Natural Non-Toxic Bed Bug Sprays and Alternative Treatments to Chemicals That Work?
If you have pets and children or simply want to eliminate bed bugs using a spray or powder that won’t induce neurological problems, you have some options. Even if you aren’t bothered by the thought of fumigating your sanctuary, another concern with bed bug pesticide use is the growing evidence that bed bugs are developing resistance to insecticidal products that have pyrethroids as an active ingredient. This follows the same trend found many years ago when DDT was the accepted treatment; by 1956, DDT resistance was so widespread that the control method had to be changed to Malathion. When bed bugs stop responding to a certain pesticide, exterminators overcompensate by increasing the amounts of chemicals used in each treatment. This is a dangerous practice.
With these trends in mind, what are your options for non-toxic ways of getting rid of bed bugs?
How to Kill Bed Bugs Naturally
Natural oils such as Cedar Oil and Neem Oil are used as insect repellents quite widely, and there is evidence that Neem Oil repels bed bugs [source]: “One component of Neem Oil is Azadirachtin which is chemically active against a wide range of insects. It acts as a feeding inhibitor and life cycle disrupter on anything that picks it up. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a significant residual effect.” In other words, these natural essential oils work only if they are applied DIRECTLY to the bed bugs. Oils are contact kills. So if you or your exterminator can see a big group of bed bugs bunched together, and you dump a load of some type of Cedarwood oil on the unsuspecting little bloodsucking bodies, then this method of bed bug eradication will work. The problem is that most bed begs are hidden in the cracks between wood, or somewhere in your box spring frame or headboard. For bed bugs unseen, residual killers (DDT, other harsh chemicals that break down more slowly and thus stick around to disrupt the bug’ nervous system) is usually more effective for long-term bed bug elimination. Plus, dispersing a bed bug population via isolated contact kills is going to increase the difficultly of eradication, so you might as well use one inclusive method and hit ‘em hard.
Killing Bed Bugs with heat is another viable non-toxic option gaining in popularity and effectiveness, depending on the size of bed bug infestation. Heating the infested space is effective because it alters a bed bug’s natural environment. Pesticides are losing their effectiveness as bed bugs increase resilience, and toxic chemicals are waning in popularity with the public. Heat is a cost-effective and environmentally friendlier killing method; several sources (Usinger 1966, Gulmahamad 2002, Quarles 2007) report that adult and nymph bed bugs die within 15 minutes (and eggs after 60 minutes) at temperatures greater than 120ºF. Raising room temperatures above the thermal death point and maintaining that temperature for several hours normally eliminates a bed bug infestation.
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