Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #310162

Title: Essential oils as fumigants for bed bugs (Hemiptera: Cimicidae)

item Feldlaufer, Mark
item Ulrich, Kevin

Submitted to: Journal of Entomological Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/15/2015
Publication Date: 4/1/2015
Citation: Feldlaufer, M.F., Ulrich, K.R. 2015. Essential oils as fumigants for bed bugs (Hemiptera: Cimicidae). Journal of Entomological Science. 50(2):129-137.

Interpretive Summary: Due to insecticide resistance, bed bugs may not be effectively controlled by many chemicals formally used for that purpose. Therefore, new treatment methods and strategies are being sought to control this blood-sucking pest. Plant essential oils are an attractive potential treatment for bed bugs, since many of these oils would not require registration with the Environmental Protection Agency. We found that as fumigants, only one plant essential oil of the nine tested was effective in killing bed bugs. In this study, we also report the efficacy of several other compounds, including a commercially-available product. This information will be used by scientists interested in developing new ways to control bed bugs.

Technical Abstract: In Petri dish assays, fumigation of a pyrethroid-susceptible strain of bed bugs Cimex lectularius L. (Hemiptera: Cimicidae) with various essential oils resulted in mortality that approached or equaled 100%, after 5 days. However, when bed bugs were exposed to the same essential oils in sealed, commercial trash bags for 5 days, only rosemary oil killed > 99% of the bed bugs. These results are compared with a commercial product that contains cold pressed neem oil that killed 100% of the exposed bed bugs in both the Petri dish and trash bag studies.