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Bug Bomb

Summary: When all else fails, set off a bug bomb to cure what's ailing you. At least, that appears to me what desperate people do when they have pest problems. But, bug bombs often make the problem worse.

Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the last fifty years, you could not help but hear or see advertisements extolling the effectiveness of pesticide fogs. Cartoon-like cans of one pesticide or another, were shown spewing gaseous clouds that found its way into every nook and cranny, on a seek and destroy mission to kill insects inside a wall. “Raid!!!” the insects yelled in chorus, as the cartoon spray can killed the animated bugs. The Raid can even had a sinister smile on its face conveying the message, “The party's over!”


So, consumers can be forgiven for thinking they can buy a bug bomb and all their pests will be gone. But, the reality is that bug bombs, or total release aerosols, often cause more harm than good. For example, let's just say you saw a cockroach crawling across a countertop. By the time you realized what it was it had escaped between the counter and stove. Once that happens you can never totally rest easy until you see the dead body of that roach. All sorts of thoughts of roach population explosions fill our minds.

You rush to the hardware store where the manager recommends a bug bomb. “This will fill the room with stuff that will flush him out and kill him”, promises the store clerk. You bring your weapon into your kitchen, determine where you want to concentrate the toxic gas and you set off the bomb, leaving the house to escape personal harm. The little bug bomb does its thing, releasing seven to eight minutes of fine aerosol mist into the air.

What you don't know is that several things are happening during your absence. One, the mist is going up in the air in somewhat of a pattern that resembles an upside down pyramid. After the little mist particles reach their ultimate height of about six feet, or so, gravity brings the droplets back down to the floor leaving a slick, oily residue. (You forgot to put newspaper down under the bug bomb, didn't you?) Two, no one said anything about directing the spray into cracks and crevices, so only a few of the micro-particles find their way between the counter and stove. Just enough of the stuff to irritate the sensitive receptors of the cockroach and send him scampering to find better hiding places.

Bug Bomb

Before the bomb you had a pretty good idea where your enemy was hiding. Now, the roach has moved ten feet in any direction and greatly expanded the total search area. It is not a catastrophe, but the little bug bomb certainly has made your task more difficult. The lesson here is, wrong tool, wrong insect, wrong timing.

Bug bombs have their place, to be certain, but they are best used for flying insects. The materials in the bombs are nearly always some type of pyrethrin or synthetic pyrethroid product used to knock down insects. They usually contain nothing that provide any residual effect. The bomb goes off, knocks down any insect it comes in contact with, but leaves no killing agent behind. Great for killing a roomful of flies, but not so great for insects that hide.

Next time you have a pest learn the habits of the pest. Understanding where a pest is likely to live will tell you what type pesticide to use, be it an aerosol, pesticide dust like Tempo 1%, residual spray like Suspend SC or flowable powder like Talstar Pro.

Ask Rick A Question


15 Apr 2012, 12:08
We purchased a beautiful piece of heavy furniture eight yrs ago, I thought I heard a "ticking" sound coming out of it last year.. of course, my husband thought I was crazy. Last week it was ticking again! This time there was a small pile of fine sawdust coming out a hole in the front of the piece, so I photographed it, The sawdust pile was growing and my hubby even got alarmed, so we were able to move the furniture piece out to the garage and take it apart to see what was going on. I discovered three separate holes, about 1/4 inch in diameter, we vacuumed out fine dust from them, and then I saturated the holes with liquid insecticide from the hardware store. What now? (1) Do you think the furniture is cured and we can bring it back into the house, (2) Do we need to be worrying about any adults borers that may have emerged and gone somewhere in our house? (3) Does this call for a bug bomb? We can't afford to have a tent for fumigation of the whole house. Please make recommendations. I can send you some photos of the holes and dust coming from the piece of furniture if that would help. Thank you.
Ask the Exterminator
16 Apr 2012, 15:58
Usually when you find borers in wood you would treat the wood with a product that soaks into the wood such as Bora Care. Just spraying in the holes is not always effective. Knowing the exact species of insect would help you learn their habits and life cycle. That would tell you a lot about their reproduction and environmental needs.
26 Jun 2012, 02:30
We have scorpions so bad. I am scared my kids will get stung. Lately I've seen TINY baby scorpions. What can I do to get rid of them?? I am so worrie we will get stung or pinched. :(
Ask the Exterminator
26 Jun 2012, 08:02
Remove outdoor piles of trash, stones, boards, firewood on the ground and the landscape timbers.

Close entry points around windows, doors, siding and pipes coming into the house.

Use a wettable powder insecticide such as Demon WP which can be purchased on this website.

Frank R
27 Jun 2012, 04:44
Every year (right around Summer) when it gets warm, we get over infestated by ants. Heres an example, my freing bought a dozen donuts in a box. She put them down on the ant free countertop for 6 minutes. After 6 minutes (literally), there were HUNDREDS of ants in side the box. My home is and old home (I rent)of 75 plus years. It has been renevated, but the raised cinder block foundation is original. I know the ants are coming in from under the house :-( How can I rid them (without resealing up the house at my expense) at the source?
Ask the Exterminator
27 Jun 2012, 08:12
It would be nice to know the specific ant species, but your ants are probably there because they found a source for water. Put out Maxforce Ant Bait stations and the foraging ants will take the poison back to their nest. The product can be purchased on my website.
07 Aug 2012, 16:57
We recently moved into a house further into the suburbs of Northern Virginia and it seems that we have a loads of spiders, particularly in the fully finished basement (we event think we came across a HUGE wolf spider). I have a HORRIBLE fear of spiders and do have a can of raid but i don't want to continue spraying poison everyone on my targets. We have sprayed the outside of the house with an insecticide, but they are still down there. Help!!!
Ask the Exterminator
07 Aug 2012, 17:39
Spiders are drawn to the outdoor lights you have on your house. Turn them off and you'll have fewer spiders. Also, cut down tall grass and weeds around the perimeter foundation walls. I suggest spraying the foundation walls with a product called Suspend Polyzone. It will last outside for over 90 days. You can use it indoors as well, but you must follow the label. The product is available on this website.
10 Sep 2012, 12:44
We have wasps that have crawled under the wood siding in our house. I have sprayed and killed an incredible amount. I sealed of the major entrance but they are still finding seams. They have also invaded the soffit. Continue to spray with a Raid type product, bug bomb it...? Do I have to worry about a nest and hatching in the walls/soffit?I'm getting concerned for our renters.
24 Oct 2012, 04:38
I feel like I'm being eaten alive when in my bed or the right side of my couch. I think it's because I opened owned of my goose down pillows a few wks back not sure. Those were the 2 areas I handled the pillow.i threw the pillows away but I'm still being bitten by invisible something's. I've checked my room for brown stains (possible dry blood spots) the creases of my mattress under and in my box springs and I don't see anything. Please tell me what to do! It's worst at night or as it gets later in d day. I've also found when sitting out in my screened in patio I've gotten bitten and wondering are those possibly gnats? HELP
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