The number of bed bugs have been steadily increasing over the last 50 years and are almost at epidemic levels. However, few people know what they look like or how infestations begin.
In this article, we provide insight into bed bug behavior and signs of infestation. Then, we offer some tips and suggestions on the best bed bug sprays available to combat them. Would you rather have a professional handle your bed bug problem? Explore price estimates from trusted pest control companies.
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Need some insight on how pesky and problematic these bugs really are? Watch this video from SciShow for the low-down on bed bugs:
What Are Bed Bugs?
A bed bug goes through different life stages after hatching until becoming a fully grown adult. The young ones can be as small as a speck of dust and the white eggs can fit on a pin head. As they mature, they grow to about 5 mm in length and are the size of an apple seed.
Adults turn red after they bite and inject an anticoagulant to stop the wound from healing, which is often the cause of the itchiness. The pests are nocturnal and you will only ever encounter them and get bitten late at night.
The scary part is that some may not ever be aware that they have bed bugs. And, it takes months before you start to notice them. And when you do notice them… you’re already in trouble.
How Do I Know If I Have Bed Bugs?
Most people begin to realize that they have a problem when they start to see bites that are very itchy. Other characteristic signs include seeing black fecal matter on the corners of the bed sheets or mattress.
It’s not uncommon to see a red stain on your bed after you have crushed the ones that have recently fed. You can sometimes see the empty exoskeleton as they mature and shed their skins.
Want to know what bed bugs look like when they’re infesting your house? Check out this article for 53 images of bed bugs.
A lot of people panic when they find they have bed bugs and decide to leave their bed and sleep in a spare room. Some even go as far as staying with a friend. These are the worst things that you can do. Bed bugs are hitchhikers and will use you as a carrier to move to different parts of your houses or elsewhere.
The best thing is to stay calm and try to protect yourself from bites whilst simultaneously calling an exterminator.
If you do think you have bed bugs, we highly recommend first consulting with an exterminator before using sprays or any other method of bed bug control. Improper use can and will make your bed bug problem worse.
What Are Bed Bug Sprays?
Bed bug spray is an insecticide based spray that works great for bed bugs that you can see and spray directly, but has no effect on the majority that you can’t.
Most of the sprays will kill bed bugs that come into direct contact within a few minutes. Cleaning sprays that don’t have killing agents won’t be as effective, so using lysol to kill bed bugs may not work.
Some sprays have a residual effect for up to 48 hours, which is great but can be hit or miss. Just because you spray an area, doesn’t mean it’s going to kill bed bugs.
Sprays are effective if you’re strategic and use it regularly over a period of time. Use it in the places where they’re residing, such as in a suitcase or the corners of a mattress.
Read Also: What’s the best bed bug trap?
How Do Bed Bug Sprays Work?
The best bed bug sprays use chemical insecticides. This EPA article describes the various kinds of chemicals that exist and how they kill bed bugs. Pyrethroid is a common ingredient in some sprays.
You also need to take care when you’re using it indoors since they can leave a bad odor and chemical residue on your clothes. This can be bad if you have children or pets.
Take a look at the below video for a demonstration on how bed bug sprays work.
Are Bed Bug Sprays Effective?
Like everything else… it depends.
Some bed bug sprays use outdated insecticides that bed bugs have grown resistant too.
The vast majority of bed bugs hide deep in the crevices your mattress or room and sprays won’t reach them. This means that even the best bed bug sprays are only useful in a minor sense.
You should do a thorough search of the house and identify the places where they are. Use a generous amount of spray regularly over a period of time. Yet, this is best used after consulting an exterminator to prevent the infestation from spreading.
To learn more about bed bug removal, read our in-depth guide here.
Due to the seriousness of a bed bug infestation, we at Today’s Homeowner highly recommend contacting an exterminator before doing any self-treatment, which includes sprays. By using bed bug sprays, you may end up making your bed bug problem worse by spreading bed bugs into new parts of your house. For example, if you spray a location where bed bugs are infested, you might kill some, but the remaining ones will probably find a new hiding place.
Top 5 Best Bed Bug Sprays Reviewed
Check out our below list for our top bed bug spray recommendations.
- Bedlam Bed Bug Spray
- FenvaStar EcoCap
- Proof Bed Bug Spray
- Harris Bed Bug Spray
- Bio Advanced Plus Insect Killer Spray
Continue reading the section below for our review of each product, along with the pros and cons of each.
Our Top Pick: Bedlam Plus Bed Bug Spray
Out of the bed bug products we researched and reviewed, our top pick goes to Bedlam Plus.
It’s the “go-to” spray for pest control companies providing a water-safe/non-stain option for bed bug removal. Its ingredients are specifically formulated to target pyrethroid-resistant bed bugs that would normally be unphased by other products. It also has ovicidal qualities as well as acting as an adulticide, which means it can kill eggs and adults on contact.
You can’t buy this stuff over the counter at your local garden/home store, so online is your only option for purchase.
Best For Affordability: FenvaStar Ecocap
Our second pick is a newer formulation made by Rockwell Labs.
Its active ingredient is Esfenvalerate, which is a synthetic pyrethroid (aka a man-made insecticide).
What’s special about FenvaStar, is that it uses “microencapsulation”, which makes it easier to deliver a lethal dose to your target bug although it doesn’t provide that satisfying “quick kill” knockdown you’ll find with the over-the-counter brands.
It’s also worth noting that you’ll need a pump sprayer to apply the chemical to the bed bug-hiding places in your home. Most are cheap and reusable (like this one), so you should have no problem getting one within your budget.
Best Natural Alternative: Proof Bed Bug Spray
Proof is an EPA-approved biopesticide with 5.5% neem oil as the active ingredient. Neem oil is a natural pesticide found in the seeds of a neem tree.
Don’t let the word “natural” fool you however, this is still a potent solution that can and will harm you if inhaled by you or your children.
You can use this environmentally friendly bug spray anywhere in your house and it claims to have residual effects that last for a week. Overall, users have found that it does help in reducing bed bugs in and around your house.
Also, despite this product being environmentally friendly, it has an extremely potent odor that requires a fumigation mask and your windows open during use.
Best Odorless Option: Harris Bed Bug Killer
Harris is an odorless, non-stain liquid that you can use to spray your bed and furniture.
You first need to pour the liquid into a smaller container. The product suggests that you use it regularly to get the best results.
Harris usually has powerful effects whilst simultaneously leaving no odors or stains. Yet, (predictably) it doesn’t work against bed bugs that are hiding and may give you a false sense of security. It also requires prolonged periodic treatments.
Best For Multi-Pest Use: Bio Advanced Plus Insect Killer Spray
This one is a little non-traditional since it isn’t marketed directly as a bed bug spray.
We found this spray doing a bit of digging and finding what has worked well for others.
A number of users have compared this to Harris and Hot Shot finding it be more effective when applied to furniture, carpets, and other bed bug hiding areas.
The one drawback from Bio Advanced spray is the hit or miss user reviews based on various experiences with using this product. Make sure to check the reviews to see if it could be a great solution for your specific issue.