Combing pets, vacuuming carpets and other preventive measures are the best way to manage fleas. But what if the problem has already occurred? That is where insecticides come into play, with aerosol flea foggers or so-called “bug bombs” becoming increasingly popular among homeowners to dispense insecticides.
In this guide, you will learn how flea foggers work, what kind of devices are available on the market and which works best. Find some tips on what should be done to make this method more effective.
What you will learn from this Guide:
- Are flea foggers effective?
- What insecticides should be used with flea foggers?
- What are downsides for using foggers in flea control?
- How to make a flea fogger more effective
- 5 Best flea foggers: a review of products
- 10 Rules on how to use foggers
- Where do fleas hide and reproduce in the house?
- Are they safe for pets and people?
- Precautionary measures when using flea foggers
- How else can I kill fleas? Alternatives to fogging
Scientists from Washington State University describe foggers as cans of insecticides used to kill pests, such as roaches and fleas. These devices are usually get picked up by homeowners because of convenience in use and the ability to cover a large area at a time. Just place the unit indoors or outdoors and activate.
A clear advantage of this method is the ability to convert insecticide into a smoke consisting of tiny particles. Since these particles are up to seven times finer than mist, the fog spreads through the air and penetrates deep into most exposed surfaces. As a result, more insecticide comes into contact with more pests, killing them on contact.
Scientists from Oregon State University point out to the fact that although foggers are used to treat only open surfaces, they have substantial benefits. According to the experts, liquid insecticide applied with a pressure applicator achieves better coverage and turns out to be much cheaper. Apart from that, there are advantages in terms of safety as well. Since the released fog is thick and, hence, visible, a person operating the device can avoid direct contact with the insecticide more easily.
How flea foggers work
Place the device in the center of a room on the surface of any furniture item. Activate it by depressing or removing a tab. Once the device is activated, an insecticidal mist is released upwards, into the air, gradually drifting down onto the floor and other exposed surfaces. Foggers do not release gas nor do fogged insecticides penetrate cracks and voids.
For this reason, they have little impact on the pests that spend a lot of time in hidden places, such as roaches and bed bugs. While fleas live not only on humans and animals but on exposed surfaces in the house, including pet’s sleeping areas and carpets where the pests can stay for a long period of time without food. These peculiarities make fogging effective in flea control.
A number of insecticides are registered for flea foggers intended to be applied indoors. According to scientists from the University of California, the most effective solutions should include methoprene or pyriproxyfen contained in insect growth regulators (IGRs). They need to be applied to carpets and furniture as well as other exposed areas.
“Total release aerosols, or room foggers, don’t provide the coverage and long-term effectiveness of direct sprays unless they contain methoprene or pyriproxyfen,” the experts highlight. When using insecticides without IGRs, you will not be able to control larvae as the solution would not reach them deep in the carpet where they normally develop.
Other active ingredients which can be beneficial in flea control are malathion and permethrin. Permethrin mimics a natural insecticide found in the chrysanthemum flower and works by interfering with the insect’s central nervous system.
If you are worried that the device can hurt plants, use malathion-based products as they can be sprayed directly on vegetation. Malathion is also recommended for killing fleas in barns and poultry houses. This ingredient kills these insects on dogs and cats as well as destroys them indoors.
The areas that should be covered are the following: carpets, upholstering, pet sleeping areas, baseboards, windowsills, floors, and walls to a height of about one foot. However, keep in mind that malathion, permethrin, and IGRs are powerful enough to cause damage to the environment and are toxic to fish.
Although fogging is a wise choice for treating large open areas, this method has a number of limitations which should not be neglected in any way. The main downside is the inability to make insecticide penetrate into the hidden spaces, such as cracks, serving as harborage areas for many pests.
The second weak point lies in the fact that fogging is indiscriminate, i.e. you cannot direct it to the precise spot you need to treat. Thirdly, the draught can easily move small droplets in any direction, including the area you do not want to be treated with insecticide. Fourthly, when the device is activated, loud sounds are emitted and you might have to deal with neighbors' complaints.
Fifthly, Michael F. Potter, the entomologist with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, says that, instead of killing pests, fogging can repel them, making the insects scatter and hide deeper into spaces which are difficult to reach. And finally, there is a risk of staining objects such as furniture items and fabrics with the released insecticide.
According to scientists with Washington State University, there are certain limitations concerning the safety of people and pets. Overuse of foggers is hazardous to the health of people and pets, causing various health issues. Read the label carefully and applying an amount of insecticide not exceeding that indicated by the producer. More importantly, these devices are more likely to cause explosions in comparison with sprays and aerosols, which is another substantial downside of this method.
If you have opted for using foggers in flea control, take the steps suggested by scientists to increase the treatment effectiveness.
- First, before starting the unit, open drawers, cabinets, and other spaces where fleas are suspected to hide. This will make the fog reach more infested areas, killing more pests.
- Another way to enhance the performance is to close the treated area for a longer period of time than it is recommended, i.e. for four hours and more.
- Also, to make fogging more effective, use this method along with other flea killers. So apply sprays to reach hidden spaces like those beneath the furniture items. This will help to “close the gaps” as you will be able to direct the jet into the areas which are difficult to reach and conduct a targeted treatment.
- Michael F. Potter recommends placing traps that attract fleas with the green light. This is also beneficial as you will catch the ones that for some reasons have managed to avoid the treatment with insecticides. If you do not like the idea of additional expenditure, put a bowl of soapy water under a lamp to kill the remaining pests.
Then, fogging insecticides can stain surfaces, but this is mostly the case with the ones based on oils. These insecticides stay for a longer period of time on the objects they land, which increases their effectiveness. However, fogging insecticides based on oils can damage the surfaces by staining, which is why the solutions based on water are preferable for fogging.
How many flea foggers should I use?
If you choose to use a fogger, calculate the size of the room by multiplying its length, width, and height before buying devices. Read the product’s label to calculate the number of items you need to purchase. Scientists with Texas A&M Agrilife Extension suggest that homeowners should not buy more items than it is indicated on the label, depending on the area planned to be treated.
This is not only a waste of money but also hazardous for people and animals. For example, a typical fogger is designed to treat approximately 5,000 cubic feet. Therefore, at most two items are required for a house of about ten thousand cubic feet. Do not buy more, even if this quantity seems to you insufficient.
Benefits of using flea fogger with insect growth regulators
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Extension recommend fogging insecticides that are based on insect growth regulators, such as methoprene or pyriproxyfen. According to them, these products work best in flea control because they prevent eggs and larvae from developing and simultaneously eradicate larvae.
“When treating, target areas such as carpets, furniture crevices, pet beds and any other areas frequented by pets. Follow re-entry directions when using foggers (see the label of the product that you select for this information),” the experts indicate.
Their colleagues from Michigan State University define IGRs as “the safest type of insecticide products to use” and suggest applying them with foggers and sprays. However, you may still be seeing the pest emerging within two weeks after the treatment. Do not get upset, this happens because IGR insecticides cannot kill pupae. To eradicate them totally, vacuum the floor and carpets regularly but do not treat the house with insecticides for at least several weeks after the first treatment.
Below, you will learn what kind of flea foggers are commercially available, what are their strong and weak points. Find out what flea fogger works best and which product features you should take into account when making a purchase.
There are products containing both insect growth regulators preventing the insect from developing and insecticides killing adults. The coverage area also varies, amounting up to 3,000 cubic feet, while the products’ prices range from $10 to $20. Some items have extra features, such as fresh scent and odor neutralizer, which may be appreciated by customers sensitive to offensive odors.
Precor Plus Flea Fogger
The product costs just over ten dollars and contains methoprene and permethrin as active ingredients. This combination of ingredients works perfectly. The former is suggested by scientists to sterilize insects and prevent new generations. While the latter is good at killing adult pests. Precor is designed to kill specifically fleas and prevent new infestations for at least half a year.
A six-inch can is convenient to hold in the hand and easy to place wherever you need. The volume of one can amounts to 3 ounces that are intended for the area of about 3,000 cubic feet. The product does not damage leather and other types of material, nor does it stain carpets. From my perspective, this flea fogger works best compared to other options in the review.
Precor Plus: Check the current price
Adams Plus Flea & Tick Indoor Fogger
This item might seem more expensive as it costs twice as much as the previous one. But actually, it is cheaper because there are three cans in a pack. Still, I would not recommend you to purchase several foggers at once until you have calculated an area intended for insecticide treatment. Like the previous product, each item in the pack has a volume of three ounces and covers 3,000 cubic meters. And it provides 7-month protection as well.
The solution is based on methoprene and tetramethrin. The latter is widely used in flea control but is known to be highly toxic to cats and the nervous systems of other pets. In addition, it is classified by the EPA as a possible carcinogen. The product both kills adults and disrupts the larvae development. Unlike Precor, this one is labeled not just for fleas but some other species of pests as well.
Adams Plus: Check the current price
Hot Shot 95911 Flea Fogger
A budgetary choice that will cost you no more than ten dollars. Read the description and you will understand, why. One can covers a much smaller area — up to 2,000 cubic feet, which means that you will need to buy more items to cover larger areas. The product containing Nylar IGR and pyrethrins is labeled both for fleas and bedbugs as well as other pests.
Like the two products described above, this one provides protection for seven months thanks to the IGR added to the solution. The producer warns against using it in small spaces such as cabinets. Nor should you place it in a room smaller than 5x5 feet. To treat this kind of spaces, allow the fog to come from other, larger rooms.
Hot Shot 95911: Check the current price
Hot Shot No-Mess! Fogger With Odor Neutralizer
This product has the extra feature of neutralizing odors but comes without insect growth regulators. That is why it kills only on contact and lasts no more than six weeks. The coverage area is 2,000 cubic meters, which makes it inferior to the items on top of the review.
With cypermethrin and tetramethrin acting as active ingredients, the product targets adults and does not affect eggs, which means that soon after the treatment, they will hatch, develop and thrive in your house. At any rate, you will need an additional treatment but if you choose this product again, it will not prevent the third generation from happening either.
The producer says that a dry fog technology is used in the device, which allegedly makes the insecticide penetrate deep into cracks and crevices. This is highly unlikely, as foggers are normally unable to get into all sorts of gaps and areas which are hard to reach.
Hot Shot No-Mess!: Check the current price
Black Flag Concentrated Fogger
Black Flag is a trusted and well-known brand on the market. One pack contains 6 small foggers, so no wonder that the product comes at a high price in comparison with other items in the review. The solution controls an array of household pests including fleas.
Apart from insecticide killing insects, the device releases a refreshing scent, making the people in the house feel more comfortable after the treatment is over. However, I don’t quite understand what is the purpose of leaving a refreshing scent if the applicator has to air the room thoroughly after fogging.
A drawback of this item is the coverage area that does not exceed 2,000 cubic meters per fogger. While the benefit is a money-back guarantee in case the device did not work as advertised. Apart from that, the cypermethrin-based solution does not contain IGRs, something that does not allow you to control future generations.
Black Flag: Check the current price
Comparison Chart of Flea Fogger Effectiveness
|Kills adults and prevents new generations. The product is designed specifically for fleas. Provides 7-month protection.||3,000 cubic feet||10|
|Kills adults and prevents new generations. Provides 7-month protection.||3,000 cubic feet||10|
Hot Shot 95911
|Cheap. Kills adults and prevents new generations. Provides 7-month protection.||2,000 cubic feet||9|
Hot Shot No-Mess!
|Neutralizes odors. Uses a dry fog technology, allowing the insecticide to penetrate deeper.||2,000 cubic feet||8|
|One pack contains 6 concentrated foggers. Releases a refreshing scent||2,000 cubic feet||7|
F.A.Q. On How Flea Foggers Work
What Flea Fogger Works Best?
The effectiveness of a fogger is determined by two product features. First, the ingredients it contains and the area it covers. The ingredients should include both insect growth regulator targeting eggs and larvae and an insecticide like pyrethrin that kills adult insects. As for the coverage, the best products treat an area of 3,000 cubic meters. This is important because the larger area the device covers, the fewer foggers you need. And the fewer foggers you use, the better because of safety reasons.
Will they kill plants?
Plants can be harmed by fogging but you can take measures to prevent any damage. The best way to protect plants is to remove them from a treated area for some time. After the treatment, open windows to air out the room for two hours. Then, adjust your home’s temperature to the usual level before bringing the plants back.
Do flea foggers damage electronics?
Before starting the device, cover up or remove a piece of electronic equipment as insecticide can leave a moisture residue. At any rate, it must be turned off as foggers must not be activated around ignition sources. Otherwise, this may result in a short circuit or even explosion.
Do they expire?
The product’s shelf life depends on ingredients it contains. The devices that include insect growth regulators should be used within two years of purchase for better results. Remember that you have to observe storage conditions and keep it in a cool and dry place.
Are flea foggers safe for pregnancy?
Insecticides affect pregnancy because the baby is developing fast and is more sensitive to toxins. That is why it is important to take all precautionary measure in order not to expose a pregnant woman to harmful chemicals. Make sure that she has left the house beforehand and does not come back for 3-4 hours. After fogging, air out the rooms thoroughly.
Rule#1. In case your pets spend a great deal of time outdoors, it would be wise to treat the yard as well. Since it is hard to determine which areas are infected with fleas, pull on white socks and walk around the yard. If there are any adults, they will attach to the socks and will be visible there.
Rule#2. For indoor use, calculate the number of foggers you need to cover the area you want to treat. As a rule, one device per room is sufficient.
Rule#3. Before placing the device on the selected location, lay down newspapers under and around the device. If you do this, less cleanup will be needed after the treatment is over.
Rule#4. Put the device on a chair or table located in the middle of the room.
Rule#5. Open drawers, cabinets, and expose other surfaces that can be infested with fleas. This will allow the fogger to reach more spaces in the room.
Rule#6. Close windows and doors, except for the connecting doors in case you need the adjoining rooms to be treated as well. Close air conditioners and fans. Unplug all equipment in the room to reduce the risk of an explosion. Turn off smoke alarms for the period of treatment.
Rule#7. Shake the can. Do not direct the sprayer toward the face as the device sprays upward. Be sure you do not inhale the vapors.
Rule#8. Remove the tap on the cap. Press its valve and hook the catch.
Rule#9. Leave the room as soon as the device is started. Close the door to the treated area. Do not come back over the course of three hours or more.
Rule#10. Immediately after re-entering the treated area, open all windows, turn on an air conditioner and allow the room air out at least for 2 hours.
Outdoors, fleas live in vegetation, preferring shaded and humid areas. These annoying pests get into homes attaching themselves to pets and humans. Once inside, they may remain in the house for some time and lay eggs, producing new generations. The most common breeding site for fleas indoors is carpeting.
“Flea eggs can lie dormant in a carpet for months until a potential meal walks by and disturbs them — telltale vibrations can cause eggs to hatch in seconds,” experts at Columbia University note.
Apart from carpets and rugs, these pests usually hide on the walls, beneath furniture, cushions, as well as in upholstered furniture, floor cracks and tile joints. Particular attention should be paid to the places where pets sleep and play, such as mats. That is why you should regularly vacuum them and keep dry.
However, these areas are habitat for eggs and larvae while adults mostly remain on pets, rather than mats or carpets. For this reason, it is important to treat the pets to eradicate fleas in the house.
Scientists from the Alabama Cooperative Extension stress that fleas reproduce very fast. The adult insect easily jumps on an animal and it takes several minutes for it to feed with blood. It is worth noting that fleas can jump vertically up to six inches. Then, within a day, they mate and lay eggs there. One female is able to produce up to fifty eggs on a daily basis. This means that during its lifetime, the bloodsucker can lay up to 5,000 eggs.
The eggs are usually laid in the fur of an animal but subsequently, they drop off and get scattered around the house — in carpets, beneath the cushions and other places where the pet spend time. After developing into the larvae, the pest remains in carpeting, cushions, and other sheltered areas. They feed largely on the adult flea feces which is actually dried blood.
Flea foggers pose certain health risks both to people and pets. Keep them in mind when operating the device. Researchers at Washington State University have outlined the situations where they can be hazardous.
- When the device is not used in the right way, people in the household and their pets can be made sick because of overexposure to insecticides. This includes breathing issues, nausea, dizziness, as well as asthma attacks.
- The rule “the more the better” definitely must not be applied to fogging insecticides. Overuse of this device poses a risk to the health. Therefore, you should better follow the label rather than trying to guess how many foggers you need.
- Using too many devices for the size of the house may lead to explosions. To avoid this, keep them away from flames and flammable materials. The risk of fire is due to the fact that it is gas that makes insecticide sprayed out into the air. When you use too many foggers, the vapors accumulate and even a single spark may cause a fire.
- Research conducted by the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute showed that insecticidal vapors fall onto toys, furniture and other items hours after application. The skin can absorb the substance while children may consume it when putting objects in the mouths. Even opening windows does not entirely eliminate all insecticidal particles in the room.
Before starting a fogger, you should take a number of steps to reduce the potential risk the released insecticide can cause to the health of people and pets as well as prevent any damage to the property. Here is what needs to be done:
- Do not locate the unit in small confined spaces like cabinets and closets.
- Get all people and pets out of the house before the fogger is activated.
- Remove or cover dishes, food, and food preparation area. This also concerns the pet’s meal. Strip the bed.
- Be sure you have removed all toys and other items which a child may contact. In fact, you should better put these objects away for several days after the fogger was applied.
- Do clean-up. Vacuum carpets and rugs for about a week or two to remove insecticidal residue and dead insects. Empty the vacuum canister outdoors, placing the content in a bag. Wash curtains, bedding and other exposed fabrics.
As you see, there is a number of drawbacks for using foggers in flea control. This method is not the only and the most common way to treat these pests. Now, what other steps should be taken to eradicate the infestation in the house?
Step#1. Take care of your pets. Basically, this is about applying all sorts of shampoos containing insecticides. The downside of this method is that it controls only adult pests. Scientists from PennState Extension recommend insecticidal dusts as they provide the longer residual effect. Sprinkle the solution onto the pet, rub it into the coat. If there is any excess, brush it out. Sprays act not just as a flea killer but a repellent as well, which is why they should be applied before the animal leaves the house.
Step#2. Vacuum. Thoroughly vacuum areas where pets sleep and play. An ample quantity of the eggs and larvae will be removed by means of this simple and cheap method. Also, this makes fleas emerge before their due time from their cocoons that are resistant to insecticides. Therefore, more pests will be exposed to the treatment. After vacuuming, place the content in a garbage bag outdoors.
Step#3. Spraying. Insecticides can be applied not just by means of foggers but sprays as well. Spraying is actually safer and allows the applicator to target specific areas, including cracks and enclosed areas which cannot be reached by foggers. Insecticides provide an immediate reduction in the numbers of adults.
IGRs should be used along with these insecticides as they affect the development of insects. The flea cannot mature and dies in the final molt. The mission of insect growth regulators is stopping further reproduction, which is a long-term but very viable method in pest control.
Step#4. Trapping. This method is good for eliminating the remaining insects after treatment with insecticides. Traps can also be used to monitor the presence of fleas in the house. These pests are attracted by the warmth and light, so researchers from Florida University suggest that a flea trap should be made of a lamp and light-colored dish with soapy water.
The most effective source of light for that is a bedside lamp with an incandescent bulb. The traps work at night when the pests are active and foraging. Attracted by the light, they get into the soapy water and drown there. Although trapping alone will not eliminate the entire infestation, it is a cheap and proven method that works well in a combination with other solutions.