Pesticide Resistance: Why Chemicals Are Losing Their Effectiveness

Posted by Michael Ferkiss on


Bed Bug Pesticide being sprayed on mattress

The traditional way to kill bed bugs is to spray pesticides on items where bed bugs hide during the day while they are not feeding on you. This includes, mattresses, box springs, night stands, bed frames and behind and inside framed pictures hanging above your bed.

In 2021 the world's leading entomologists and facilities managers all agree that bed bugs have, through normal evolutionary processes, developed resistance to pesticides and have learned to avoid them.

Not only do pesticides not kill the resistant bed bugs any longer but the non-resistant bed bugs have learned to avoid them and  end up scattering which makes the problem more widespread, more difficult and therefore more expensive to treat.

Even worse - the chemical resistant bed bugs that survive the initial treatment will then mate and their offspring will inherit that same resistance gene making future treatments completely ineffective. This has been a common trend with the pesticides in use today and is visually depicted in the diagram below.

Diagram shows difference between first and second generation bed bugs develop pesticide resistance when sprayed

Pesticide resistance is nothing new and did not start with bed bugs. This Wikipedia entry describes how all bugs will eventually develop resistance to chemical pesticides due to the process of natural selection.

If you recall back when you were in 7th or 8th grade you probably learned the basics of Charles Darwin's notion of 'natural selection' which describes how, over time, a species will evolve, on the molecular level, to strengthen those traits which help it to survive and lose those traits which weaken it.

Chales Darwin theory of natural selection describes how bed bugs have developed chemical resistance

Bed bug resistance to chemically produced insecticides continues to get worse despite the pesticide manufacturing industry's best efforts to stay ahead of the game. It is estimated that over 1000 species of pests have developed resistance to pesticides since 1945.

I have spoken about this before, but it deserves mentioning again. The 'magic bullet' of antibiotics is quickly evaporating and not being replaced by new ones as fast as humans are developing resistance to them due to overuse, time and natural selection.

Bed bug resistance to pesticides is no different.

One final point that should be carefully considered by anyone trying to decide if spraying pesticides is the best method for killing bed bugs is this: there are no chemical sprays on the market that kill unhatched bed bug eggs. 

If you choose to go the bed bug pesticide spray route your pest professional will have to return to your home to respray once the eggs have hatched. I have been told by customers that respraying visits sometimes stretch over 2-4 additional weeks to make sure every single bed bug egg has hatched.

Listen to what customer Nancy had to say in this video below about what three pest  professionals told her about spraying bed bug pesticides in her home and why she ultimately decided against it. 

Because all pests including bed bugs continue to develop resistance to pesticides designed to kill them exposing them to temperatures of 120 degrees F/49 C is the only proven method to eliminate both bed bugs and their unhatched eggs 100% of the time - in ONE treatment while keeping your furniture.

An electric bed bug heater is the ultimate weapon to use against bed bugs and their unhatched eggs. 

Landlords swear by them and have gone so far as stating that their PestPro Thermal bed bug heaters are one of the best investments they have ever made and they wish they had done it sooner.

Many of or customers struggled for months and in some cases spent thousands of dollars trying a DIY approach and/or hired professionals who only sprayed pesticides and did not use heat.

Watch the short video below, produced by the University of Colorado's Facilities Manager. In it Ed von Bleichert describes how bed bug eggs can lay dormant for weeks or months and that heat, not pesticides, are  the best method for killing bed bugs and bed bug eggs. 


 UPDATE 01JUN 2022

Read our customer Schendel Pest Services take on Heat vs. Chemicals:

"When used as a primary treatment for eradicating bed bugs, chemicals can be a problem. Bed bugs are a resilient insect in many ways. When they sense danger they flee deep into wall voids and climb up into attic spaces to avoid even the most aggressive chemical treatments, leaving you to face another infestation down the road. Research has shown that modern bed bugs can survive more than 1,000 times the amount of pesticide that was considered lethal to them only 10 years ago. Chemical treatments alone do not effectively arrest a bed bug infestation.Companies that focus on heat treatments as the primary treatment for bed bugs get the job done safer and faster. It usually only takes one heat treatment to rid a property of bed bugs, while a chemical treatment may need to be done three or more times. This can be a serious problem when more than 90% of sprayed pesticides can make their way into air, soil or water. If chemicals are used, it should always be sparingly and in focused locations. The problem for many pest control companies is knowing where to apply pesticides.The bed bug control specialists at Schendel Pest Services rely on heat to destroy bed bugs. Heat is non-toxic and highly effective at killing bed bugs in all stages of development. It leaves no residue or pollution behind."

For additional information and details on bed bug heating equipment visit this post: The Ultimate Guide to Bed Bug Heaters: Buying a Bed Bug Heater vs Renting

Call or text 970-443-8119 for meaningful answers to your intelligent questions about our bed bug heat treatment equipment.

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