List of Chemicals that Kill Bed Bugs and 4 Things to Immediately Do!

Bed bugs have persistently invaded many households for many generations. The solution? A big list of chemicals that kill bed bugs – indeed!

However, before that can happen. Reality and reminders! Different methodologies on bed bug control have been introduced and tested, one of which is the use of pesticides to kill bed bugs. While these methods have effectively reduced the severity of infestations, bed bugs always keep coming back. And worse, these irritating pests have become more resistant to these treatments.

To counterattack this resurgence, people also found ways to improve the quality of pesticides by using high potency chemicals to ensure immediate death of bugs upon contact. Many people have also discovered that using a combination or mixture of these chemicals increases the insecticidal strength of these compounds.

The upsurge of bed bug infestation also led to a higher demand of these pesticides. In order to regulate the use of the chemicals and to ensure the safety of the consumers, chemicals need to be approved and registered by EPA before it can be used in pesticide products such as bed bug sprays, foggers and bed bug powders. Chemicals are classified into seven classes: pyrethrins, pyrethroids, desiccants, biochemicals, pyrolles, neonicotinoids, and insect growth regulators.

Here is the list of some chemicals that kill bed bugs:

  • Pyrethrins, pyrethroids and synergists

Pyrethrins are botanical pesticides extracted from chrysanthemum flowers. This compound is composed of six chemicals that can kill insects including bed bugs. When they come in contact with bed bugs, the chemicals alter the nervous system resulting to paralysis and death. Pyrethrins are usually mixed with other chemicals to boost their effect.

Pyrethroids are synthetic chemical insecticides derived from pyrethrins. They are the result of modified pyrethrins which have been tested to manifest greater stability under sun exposure.

Chemicals under pyrethrins and pyrethroids class include:

  • Bifenthrin
  • Cyfluthrin and beta-cyfluthrin
  • Cypermethrin
  • Cyphenothrin
  • Deltamethrin
  • Esfenvalerate
  • Etofenprox
  • Fenpropathrin
  • Flumethrin
  • Imiprothrin
  • Momfluorothrin
  • Permethrin
  • Prallethrin
  • Resmethrin
  • Tau-fluvalinate
  • Tefluthrin
  • Tetramethrin
  • Tralomethrin


Most chemicals based on pyrethrins and pyrethroids are often mixed with other chemicals called synergists to increase the insecticidal power and complement the effects of each chemical. These synergists are:

  • piperonyl butoxide
  • MGK-264
  • Chlorfenapyr

Chlorfenapyr is categorized under a class of chemicals called pyrolles. These chemicals are activated once eaten by bed bugs. They work by disrupting the cell functions by inhibiting the production of ATP which then results to death. These chemicals are widely used in bed bug spray products.

  • Neonicotinoids

This chemical class was adapted from nicotine and is being used to kill bed bugs by stirring up their nicotine receptors in the nerve synapse. This leads to the dysfunction of the nervous system resulting to immediate death. Chemicals under this class include:

  • imidacloprid
  • dinotefuran
  • Insect growth regulator (IGR)

Chemicals can be efficient as long as bed bugs remain susceptible to them. They become ineffective when bed bugs develop resistance against them. The concept of IGR is to use chemicals in stopping the growth and development of bed bugs. As bed bugs grow from nymphs to adulthood, they undergo a molting process where they shed off their old exoskeleton to develop a new one. IGRs work by disrupting the growth of their new exoskeletons before they can harden. When a bug’s body isn’t fully developed when they reach maturity, they eventually die. The effectiveness of IGRs relies on the killing process which is impossible for bed bugs to create resistance to it. The method of killing bed bugs using IGRs takes a longer time compared to the immediate effect of most pesticides, but IGRs yield more precise result and have been proven effective in stopping bed bugs from multiplying. Depending on the current life stage of the bugs at the time of application, IGRs usually takes 3 to 10 days to kill bed bugs.

Examples of IGR are:

  • Azadirachtin

This highly oxidized compound is derived from the seeds of a neem tree. It is known to have eating-suppressant property that inhibits bed bugs from feeding.  It disrupts growth and development of most insects including bed bugs. It contains substantial toxicity that has been proven lethal to insects.

Some pesticide products are using azadirachtin as their active ingredient.

  • Hydroprene

Bed bugs begin to mature from young to adulthood once their juvenile hormones decline and fade. Hydroprene mimics the juvenile hormone of bed bugs to prevent them from reaching maturity stage. It does not kill bed bugs but it restricts their growth, leaving them no chances of reproducing.

Pyriproxyfen works the same way as hydropene by mimicking the juvenile hormones to inhibit growth of bed bugs.  When it comes in contact, it does not only disrupt young bed bugs to mature but it can also disturb the development of their eggs. This interference on their development prevents them from reproducing thus reducing their population until they all die.

Proper use of chemicals

Bed bug control products using one or more of these chemicals are required to inform the consumers on how to use the product properly. That is why it is important to read product labels that provide simple instruction and details regarding the product. The effectiveness of these products doesn’t only rely on the ability of their active ingredients to kill bed begs. You should also include the following factors that may affect the outcome such as:

  1. the degree of the infestation,
  2. the preparation of the area including the isolation of the bed, detection of hiding places, laundering of sheets and linens, etc.,
  3. the process and extent of the product application, and
  4. the presence of resistance to the product being used.

The use of pesticides allows you to carry out a do-it-yourself treatment to kill bed bugs, as alternative to hiring a professional which can be considerably expensive. Remember, getting rid of bed bugs demands effort and patience on your part. If bed bugs still persist on coming back after a series of pesticide applications, consider switching to other products containing different classes of chemicals. It is also wise to incorporate different treatment options in addition to pesticides.

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