What chemicals do exterminators use for bed bugs

Anti-Bedbug Sprays: What Exterminators Use to Battle Bed Bugs

Avatar of author Ismael Girard
Ismael Girard
min read

Bed bugs are a nuisance that we've all dreaded at some point. They're hard to spot and even harder to get rid of. But how do exterminators manage to get rid of them — And what products do they use?

In Canada, when it comes to anti-bedbug sprays, pest control experts often use pyrethrins (and pyrethroids), desiccants, biochemicals, pyrroles, neonicotinoids, and insect growth regulators. It's really important to understand the different effects each of them have on bedbugs.

In this text, we'll explore the following questions together:

✔️ What Is a Bed Bug Infestation?

✔️ What Substances Are Used by Bedbug Exterminators?

✔️ What Is the Role of CEPA in Pesticide Safety and Effectiveness?

✔️ Are Bedbugs Resistant to Chemicals?

✔️ Are There Any Non-Chemical Bed Bug Extermination Methods?

✔️ Are Anti-Bedbug Products Safe?

We've tapped into our years of experience and extensive research to bring you this informative piece. So buckle up as we begin on this journey into the world of bed bug extermination.

What Is a Bed Bug Infestation?

A bed bug invasion is more than just a nuisance; it's a complex pest problem that poses significant challenges for both homeowners and bedbug control experts.

The first evidence of a bed bug problem is often physical signs on the body. Bed bugs typically leave red, itchy bites on the skin, commonly in a line or cluster. While these pests are elusive, it's possible to identify signs of their presence beyond physical bites.

What Substances Are Used by Bedbug Exterminators?

pest control expert in a van

When we're dealing with bedbugs, it's worth knowing the arsenal of solutions at a pest control professional's disposal, and what pest control companies do about bedbugs. It's our aim to shed some light on the chemicals used to rid your home of these pests.

Pyrethrins and Pyrethroids

In the heart of a pest control company's war chest, you'll find the chemical compounds known as Pyrethrins and Pyrethroids. These are insecticide compounds, derived from the Chrysanthemum flower, used ubiquitously to kill bedbugs.

Effect/Reaction: They attack the nervous system of these pests, hence killing them.

However, some bed bug populations have developed resistance to these compounds making it a more complicated problem. So, professionals often need to resort to multiple methods and compounds for adequate extermination.


Turning to desiccants, their mode of action is quite different.

Effect/Reaction: They don't affect the nervous system but rid bed bugs of their protective outer coating. Without this coating, bed bugs rapidly lose water and dry out, leading to their demise.

Diatomaceous earth and boric acid are common desiccants used in pest control. They can reach into anything, giving them an edge regarding killing bedbugs hiding in challenging areas like the bed frame.


As for biochemical pesticides, they are as interesting as the name suggests. Cold Pressed Neem Oil is the lone ranger of this class fighting against bed bug infestation. Neem oil is obtained from the tropical Neem tree.

Effect/Reaction: It disrupts the life cycle of bedbugs, parties by deterring feeding and reproduction.


Regarding Pyrroles, there is one key player- Chlorfenapyr.

Effect/Reaction: Unlike other insecticides, it doesn't act on contact. It needs to be ingested by the bed bugs, after which it disrupts their cells' ability to produce energy and kills them.


Neonicotinoids are another common selection in our long yet effective list of pest control compounds.

Effect/Reaction: They are synthetic versions of nicotine and act on the insects' nervous system.

They're best employed as a part of a larger pest management strategy, where resistance to other compounds might be an obstacle.

Insect Growth Regulators

Last but not least, we have the Insect Growth Regulators or IGRs. Products like Hydroprene and Methoprene.

Effect/Reaction: They imitate the juvenile growth hormones of bed bugs, interrupting their reproductive cycle. This leads to a frustrated growth and reproduction status quo, eventually curtailing the infestation over time.

While exterminators often mix and match these substances or use them along with non-toxic methods, it's always important to secure the help of a pest control company doing proper research.

Ensure they hold positive recommendations and reviews, and employ comprehensive extermination strategies spanning heat treatment and insecticides, to effectively manage and eventually eradicate the pest problem.

What Is the Role of CEPA in Pesticide Safety and Effectiveness?

When we speak of safety and effectiveness, it's essential to mention the Canadian Environmental Protection Agency (CEPA). The CEPA governs the utilization of pesticides, ensuring they are used correctly and pose minimal risks to human health and the environment.

When a pest control company develops a new insecticide, the CEPA steps in to conduct thorough evaluations. They scrutinize the compound's structure, efficacy against pests, potential health risks, and environmental impact. The goal here is to confirm that the new product is indeed capable of getting rid of the infestation without causing substantial harm.

Let's take Diatomaceous earth, a common desiccant, for example. It's an incredibly effective substance in pest control, especially for killing bedbugs. But, its effectiveness isn't its only bragging right. The CEPA has also granted it recognition as a pesticide with minimal adverse effects on both people and pets.

Heat extermination, yet other popular method, also undergoes scrutiny for safety and efficacy. Despite it being an invaluable tool in professional hands, incorrect usage may lead to damages. CEPA's role is vital to lay out clear guidelines and instructions for safe application.

Are Bedbugs Resistant to Chemicals?

Bedbugs have developed a surprising resistance to many of the substances traditionally used to fight them. Now, with years of exposure to certain sprays, many bedbug populations have evolved to a point where they can withstand the effects of insecticides that were once considered very effective.

This resilience has made chemical treatment tougher, usually requiring multiple applications or other methods like thermal extermination to achieve complete eradication.

The Necessity of Multiple Treatments for Complete Eradication

Because bedbugs' hideouts are quite small, they provide ample protection for them during pesticide applications. Also note that they're eggs are resistant to many common pesticides, raising questions about the efficacy of a single treatment.

That's why at Pest Agent, we often recommend the application of multiple treatments, each targeting different infestations. They not only address adult bedbugs but also help flush out any remaining eggs or nymphs.

A good bedbug extermination strategy includes:

  • Chemical treatment: A variety of insecticides including biochemical pesticides, boric acid, and diatomaceous earth are commonly used. Pest control professionals vary the insecticides they use to ensure maximum coverage and effectiveness.
  • Heat treatment: Heating an infested area to temperatures above 120 degrees Fahrenheit has proven extremely successful in eliminating bedbugs at all stages of life.
  • Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs): These are compounds that mimic certain insect hormones, disrupting their growth and development. They're an effective long-term control strategy.

A pest control company may use one, two, or all three methods depending on the level of infestation. From our experience, we feel that combining heat treatment with the pesticide application has been particularly effective.

Are There Any Non-Toxic Bed Bug Extermination Methods?

Indeed, there are! The looming toxic peril of toxic sprays have led to the advent of alternatives. Let's shed some light on non-toxic strategies for bed bug extermination.

Heat Treatment: An Effective Non-Chemical Approach

Heat treatment stands out as the most effective, non-toxic choice for bed bug extermination. It has the virtue of addressing both the bedbugs and their eggs—a feat that some insecticides struggle to achieve.

The strategy involves raising the temperature of the infested area above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Bed bugs and their eggs can't stand such intense heat, making this type of extermination one of the most potent weapons in exterminating the pests.

Natural Repellents and Biological Controls

Notably, natural repellents are also an option for controlling bed bug infestations. While they may not be as instantly lethal as heat treatment, they are nonetheless important tools in any bed bug fighting arsenal.

  • Botanical insecticides: Comprising of natural compounds extracted from plants, are proved effective against pests. Essential oils, primarily those of cinnamon, lemongrass, clove, peppermint, lavender, thyme, tea tree, and eucalyptus, have shown pest repellent properties.
  • Diatomaceous Earth (DE): This naturally occurring substance is lethal to many pests, including bed bugs. The abrasive and moisture-absorbing nature of DE can penetrate the bugs, leading to desiccation and eventual death.
  • Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs): They're biochemical pesticides that thwart the growth of bed bugs, disrupting their life cycle. Pyriproxyfen and Methoprene are among the commonly used IGRs.
  • Parasitic insects: They're also under investigation for their potential in reducing bed bug populations. These biological controls aim to introduce organisms that feed on bed bugs into the infested environments.

So, there you have it. Aside from the familiar spray cans of pesticide, one can wage war against the troublesome bed bugs using heat and Mother Nature's own biochemical and biological armory. Partnering with a professional pest control company will ensure the most comprehensive approach to tackling your bed bug problem.

Are Anti-Bedbug Products Safe?

If you're dealing with a bed bug infestation, you may be asking this crucial question, and it's a valid inquiry. Naturally safety is paramount regarding pest management.

Understanding the Risks Associated with Pesticides

Pesticides, including boric acid and other commonly used compounds, are effective but they come with potential health risks. Overexposure to these substances can lead to an array of health issues ranging from mild irritations to more severe conditions such as nerve damage or endocrine disruption.

In particular, when dealing with bedbugs, pesticides can find their way into small, hidden areas frequented by the pests. This includes but is not limited to, mattresses, bed frames, and other furniture pieces. So, the likelihood of human and pet exposure to these chemicals rises and this is where the risk lies.

Protective Gear and Proper Application

To prevent harm, proper application and use of protective gear are essential during pesticide application. Protective gear can include gloves, face masks, and protective clothing to limit direct skin contact. Over-the-counter pesticide products will often detail the necessary equipment on the packaging. When working with a pest control company, make sure they're employing these measures.

Proper application is likewise crucial. Many common pesticides need to be applied meticulously to specific areas where bed bugs are known to hide. This may involve carefully treating mattresses, bed frames, furniture, and other potential hiding places. The key is ensuring the application is thorough yet controlled; remember, the goal is to eradicate the bugs without risking your health.


We've delved into the world of bed bug extermination and the chemicals that professionals use to rid your home of these pesky pests. It's clear that DIY techniques often fall short and can even pose health risks if pesticides are used improperly.

Professional exterminators have the expertise and tools to tackle this problem effectively. They understand the strategies needed to reach bed bugs in their hiding spots and offer post-treatment monitoring and prevention advice.

With their service, you're not just getting a treatment, but a guarantee of effective extermination. It's a comprehensive approach to pest control that goes beyond the reach of common pesticides. So, when dealing with bed bugs, it's worth considering the value of professional pest control services.

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Frequently asked questions

What precautions should be taken before a professional bed bug treatment?

Before treatment, remove clutter, vacuum the area, and wash bedding and clothes in hot water to reduce bed bug hiding spots and improve treatment efficacy.

How long does it take to eliminate a bed bug infestation with professional treatment?

The time to eliminate a bed bug infestation varies but typically requires several weeks and multiple treatment sessions due to the pest's resilience and the presence of eggs.

Why is heat treatment considered one of the most effective for bed bug extermination?

Heat treatment penetrates hard-to-reach areas and kills all life stages of bed bugs, including eggs, making it highly effective without the use of chemicals.