The Latest Chemical Weapon Against Bed Bugs

Demand Duo Insecticide combines two different actives to create a ZC formulation that works against even pyrethroid-resistant pests.


Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterus) are some of nature’s great survivalists. A number of biological factors contribute to their success as parasitic insects. For example, their lifespan can be anything between 45 days and up to a year in cooler climatic conditions, and in laboratory conditions they can survive for 12 months without a single blood meal.1 They can tolerate a wide range of temperatures (even surviving up to five days at -10°C) and their saliva – with its anti-clotting agents and anaesthetic properties – ensures successful blood feeding.

There’s also the matter of insecticide resistance. Strong resistance to pyrethroids has been globally reported, and resistant populations of bed bugs are well documented here in Australia.

R&D companies work continuously to develop chemicals that can control bed bugs as they develop resistance to commonly used insecticides. One example of this is Demand Duo Insecticide from Syngenta, which has shown excellent ability to control the notorious ‘Sydney strain’ of bed bug that is resistant to pyrethroids.

Demand Duo was tested against a number of bed bug species, including the Sydney strain, in a study undertaken by Dr Stephen Doggett at the Department of Medical Entomology at Westmead Hospital in Sydney.2 Laboratory trial work looked at both the results of a direct spray on bed bugs (Figure 1, left side of graph) as well as at the residual performance when bed bugs were introduced to the treated surface (Figure 1, right side of graph) over a period of ten days. Results are presented as cumulative control over the time period.


Figure 1: Demand Duo has proven efficacy as both an immediate direct spray and as a longer-term residual spray against pyrethroid- resistant ‘Sydney strain’ bed bugs


The unique ZC formulation delivers fast knockdown of existing populations while providing advanced residual capability to ensure it continues long after the job is finished. The combination of the two active ingredients, thiamethoxam and lambda-cyhalothrin, with different modes of action, provides better control of bed bugs than either active ingredient can alone.

It’s not all about chemical use, of course – an integrated approach to bed bug control is recommended. A thorough inspection of the area and adjoining rooms by an experienced professional pest manager is required to confirm bed bug activity. Indicators of an infestation include a noticeable ‘spotting’ of blood stains in areas around bedding, mattress edging and harbourages. When they are present in great numbers, bed bugs also give off a noticeable pungent smell.

As part of a treatment program, bedspreads, sheets, pillowcases, mattress pad and blankets, curtains, and soft furnishings should be removed and washed. All clothing from wardrobes and drawers should be laundered at the hottest temperatures possible. Bed bugs die when their body temperature exceeds 45°C. It is recommended to wash items with detergent at >50°C for 15 minutes and then place in a dryer at >60°C for 20 minutes. Customers should be advised that wash cycles must be long enough to bring full loads up to temperature. An alternative to a hot wash is to bag the infested items and place in a freezer until the core temperature reaches <-17°C for a minimum of two hours.

Vacuuming is the standard method of removing eggs. After the vacuuming is complete, the waste must be tightly sealed in a plastic bag and incinerated or disposed of in a waste bin (while still in the sealed bag). Using a vacuum with a high efficiency particle air (HEPA) filter will ensure allergens and bed bug debris are removed from resting sites. Ongoing cleaning and maintenance is critical to the success of the program, so customer involvement is essential.

The application of a dual mode of action insecticide treatment, such as Demand Duo, is an excellent final step in any integrated pest control plan. To facilitate a more thorough treatment, treat around and behind areas in which bed bugs are likely to hide such as wall panels, picture frames and headboards.

Using a dual-action product provides a fast knockdown to control the immediate situation that affects the homeowner, as well as long-lasting residual control to continue to treat the remaining bed bugs. With Demand Duo, iCap encapsulation of the lambda-cyhalothrin enables the non-repellent characteristics of the thiamethoxam to go to work. The target pest will happily traverse the treated area allowing quick and efficacious treatments.

For heavy infestations and difficult-to-control sites, a reapplication may be required within 7-14 days. Potential retreatment is hassle-free for customers as the unique ZC formulation of Demand Duo enables the treatment solution to dry clear and has a very low odour.

Back to bed bug treatment landing page.

More information on bed bugs.


1 Delaunay, P., Blanc, V., Del Giudice, P., Levy-Bencheton, A., Chosidow, O., Marty, P., & Brouqui, P. (2011). Bedbugs and infectious diseases. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 52(2), 200-210.

2 Trial: PPmA15801AU, Dr S. Doggett, 2015, Department of Medical Entomology at Westmead Hospital.

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