Bed Bug Pesticide Concerns


There has been a dramatic increase in the number of bed bug-related inquiries received by the National Pesticide Information Center over the past several years. These cases involved pesticides that residents, homeowners, or pesticide applicators misapplied.

To prevent pesticide exposures:

Make sure you are treating the right pest. For help making sure your pests are bed bugs, you can contact an entomologist (insect expert) at many county extension services or UNL.

Do not use pesticides indoors if they are intended for outdoor use. Outdoor pesticides should not be used indoors under any circumstances.

Use a pest control expert if you hire someone to treat your home for a pest problem.

When you hire someone to control bed bugs or any other pest, make sure they are currently licensed and certified to apply pesticides. Ask for the brand name of the pesticide and the name of the product's active ingredient in case you or a member of your family gets sick from exposure to the product.

If you buy over-the-counter pesticide products to apply yourself, be sure:

  • the product is in unopened,
  • the containers are labeled, and
  • the containers have an EPA registration number.

Always follow the instructions on the product label.

Do not use other household chemicals such as kerosene, rubbing alcohol, or bleach for pest control. They can cause negative health effects, fire, or explosions.

So, how can bed bugs be treated safely?

  • checking luggage and clothes when returning from a trip or buying second hand clothing, mattresses, or furniture;
  • thoroughly inspecting infested areas and the surrounding living space;
  • reducing clutter where bed bugs can hide;
  • installing encasements on box springs, mattresses and pillows, and using interceptors under bed posts and furniture legs;
  • aggressively cleaning infested areas and clothing, in conjunction with professional heat/steam or cold treatments of baseboards and other belongings; and
  • carefully using pesticides approved for indoor use on bed bugs.
If you believe you or a family member has become ill from a pesticide exposure, call the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 or your local hospital emergency room.