What is a Bug Bomb?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

A bug bomb, also sometimes called an insect fogger, is a product used to deal with insect infestations, usually in residential spaces. Most bug bombs use an aerosol spray to diffuse insecticide into the air. All residents and pets should be outside of the home when the bug bomb is being set off. Before using a bug bomb, it is important to review all of the instructions on the package and to follow them to the letter. This is because the product that is being sprayed into the air is essentially a poison and can pose serious health risks if it is not used under the right conditions.

A serious infestation of cockroaches or other pests could require that a home be fumigated with a bug bomb or other treatment.
A serious infestation of cockroaches or other pests could require that a home be fumigated with a bug bomb or other treatment.

There are a number of reports that indicate that bug bombs are an ineffective and dangerous way to deal with pests. These reports usually recommend against using bug bombs or using them only as a last resort. In addition to filling the air with poison, the bug bomb poses a fire hazard because it is an aerosol. In most cases, aerosols can be used safely, but in this case the aerosol is active without being under supervision. Another reason that bug bombs are considered to be dangerous is that they coat all of the surfaces of the house in insecticide, which is unhealthy for pets and humans.

Outdoor bug bombs may be used to help with a mosquito problem.
Outdoor bug bombs may be used to help with a mosquito problem.

Reports also indicate that bug bombs may actually make infestations worse. If a bug bomb is set off in a residence, it may cause the pests to retreat deeper into the house. Not only does this cause them to find new, more difficult-to-access areas to live, but may also cause them to find new breeding grounds. These reports often indicate that the best way to deal with an infestation is to work with a professional exterminator and to maintain household practices that reduce the risk of pests.

While a bug bomb may sound like an effective way to deal with pests, it is probably the least targeted approach. While the insecticide in a bug bomb fills the air and rains down on all of the surfaces in a house, it does not always reach the places where bugs actually reside, such as deep in carpets, behind drawers, and even in the walls. For those who decide to use a bug bomb, be sure to ventilate the space very well after the bomb has been set off. Also, clean all surfaces in the house to remove residue from the insecticide spray.

Bug bombs use aerosol spray to kill insects.
Bug bombs use aerosol spray to kill insects.
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments

mobilian33

Bug bombs are fine if the place where you are setting them off is unoccupied. If you think there might be a bug problem in a place you are about to move into then set off the bombs before you get all your furniture, clothes, dishes and other possessions moved into the house or apartment.

Otherwise, you will be trying to clean the poison out of everything you own, and the task is virtually impossible. I definitely recommend you just get several cans of regular bug spray and some traps and go after the bugs in that way. It's safer for you and probably more effective than the bombs.

Drentel

The first apartment I lived in after college was in decent place, but there were roaches all over the place. In fact, roaches were a problem throughout the complex. When I reported the problem to the manager, he told me he would set off a bug bomb.

I told him when I would be out of the apartment. He said he would set off the bomb, and he assured me the roaches would be gone. I didn't have any experience with the bombs at the time.

When I returned home, everything looked normal. I opened the windows like the apartment manager had told me to do. There was a smell, but it wasn't overpowering. I saw a few dead bugs, but nowhere near the number I had seen running around the apartment on any given night before.

The roaches were gone for several months, for the most part anyway. Occasionally I would see one or two, but nothing major. Then after a while, they returned. The manager set off another bomb and again for a couple of months I saw few roaches.

What my neighbors and I eventually figured out was that the roaches would move from one apartment to another, avoiding the latest bug bomb explosion.

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