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Aerosols allow for the fast, accurate application of insecticides to hard to reach cracks and crevices. So should you be using aerosols as part of your bed bug treatment plan?

Bed bug resistance to insecticides is a topic that’s been talked about in the industry for some time now, and confusion abounds as to their potential use in bed bug programs.

The Bed Bug Code of Practice advises that control of bed bug infestations requires a multi-faceted approach, and despite the concerns about their effectiveness, chemical treatments such as aerosols can still play an important role in pest management programs.

It’s important to be aware however, of the resistance mechanisms that can reduce the effectiveness of chemical treatments on bed bugs in order to understand how best to use them.

Resistant bed bugs have thicker cuticles, providing a physical barrier to chemicals entering the insect. Residual treatments, which are essentially water based and dry after application, struggle to penetrate these thick cuticles. In contrast, specifically designed bed bug aerosols such as Bedlam, have solvents that aid the penetration of insecticides through the cuticle, which allows them to overcome the first resistance hurdle (the thick cuticle) and enter the insect.

Resistant bed bugs have also mutated to develop metabolic pathways that increase the rate of detoxification of insecticides, making them less effective. This was confirmed in the most recent evaluation of resistance in field collected strains of bed bugs in Australia (Lilly et al., Austral Entomology, 2017). However, the authors also noted that “aerosol-based pyrethroids are still effective at killing the most resistant strain when sprayed directly.” Effectiveness is achieved by using the correct choice of insecticide and formulation. Bedlam insecticide uses a combination of the pyrethroid, d-phenothrin, and the synergist, MGK-264. The presence of a synergist is vital in maximising performance against resistant bed bugs.

Bedlam is labeled for use on a wide range of surfaces including mattresses, bedding and garments – although bedding and garments should be washed before use. It doesn’t stain, but being primarily water based, it’s advised to test it on surfaces sensitive to water marks.

Aerosols can also be a great tool for targeting bed bugs where they hide, including along the edge of carpets, mattresses, cracks and crevices in furniture and behind wall hangings. The nozzle included with the product should be used to ensure accurate application. And as with all chemical treatments, it is always recommended that affected areas be vacuumed first. Although Bedlam can deliver up to two weeks residual control on susceptible strains, it should always be combined with other measures as part of an overall program.

So, despite the resistance concerns, specialist aerosols such as Bedlam are still effective tools in a pest manager’s arsenal when tackling bed bug outbreaks.