The Rentokil Blog UK

Will Cedar Oil Kill Bed Bugs?

Oil will kill bed bugsHot water, cedar oil, orange oil, essential oils of every description, paraffin and extra virgin olive oil are all natural remedies for killing bed bugs. But here’s the bugbear. They will only work if you get it on the insect. And therein lies the problem.

Many oils will kill bed bugs, as they will many different insects, but they offer only what is termed as a ‘contact kill’. The issue with treating bed bugs is getting to the ones you can’t find. That’s why DDT was so good, it’s a residual killer- it remains chemically active on whatever you spray it on for some time after the treatment. A residual kill strategy is still the method the pest control industry uses, only with reduced success as the chemicals breakdown faster. Insecticide residues are not seen as something desirable in the home these days.

Oils and similar products don’t act chemically; instead they physically suffocate the insects by blocking the spiracles. If you don’t get it on the bug they won’t pick it up in sufficient quantity from the furniture to suffocate themselves. Bed bugs are so cryptic that professionals don’t get always get all of them first time around with the chemicals we use that act with both contact and residual effects. Without being too ‘pro-industry’, amateurs stand very little chance of eradicating a population of bed bugs in their homes with over-the-counter chemicals.

Bed bugWe’ve tested oils for residual kill effect against bed bugs and they don’t kill any. By which I mean zero bugs die. If you miss a single gravid female, your treatment fails: you still have bed bugs. That’s why we don’t those products and insist on follow-up calls to mop up newly hatched nymphs and any cryptic stragglers.

It raises an interesting point though. There are companies that use Orange Oil to treat drywood termites in the US. Orange Oil is a contact kill product. They market themselves heavily as a ‘natural’ , ‘holistic’ and ‘green’ company. Which they are. However, what their business is actually unpinned with is not the oil, many things give a contact kill, but the training they give their staff. If you train your staff well, really well, they can find more termites than other companys’ staff. And if can they find more, they can kill more. Easy.

So, yeah. Cedar oil will kill bed bugs but be sure to invest hundreds of hours searching out, observing, and treating infestations and breaking down all furniture into component parts before you use it to ensure best results. 

Bed bugs could also be hiding in the walls or the floor. Alternatively, heat treatment will eradicate all bed bugs in one hit, without the need to go searching for each and every little blood sucker or leaving any residues.

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15 Comments

  1. Posted March 30, 2011 at 4:03 am | Permalink

    Thank you Matt for the very insightful read, didn’t know all that.
    I have one question regarding the use of Neem (Azadirachta indica) for bed bugs. I have seen that a lot of hobbyists are using neem oil to get rid of their garden and plant pests and was wondering if it would also work with the cockroaches, bed bugs and the likes. Does it have a residual effect?

    Thanks a lot again
    Regards
    Benjamin

  2. Matt Green
    Posted March 30, 2011 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Like Cedar Oil, Neem Oil is used as an insect repellent quite widely and there is some support for bed bugs being repelled by Neem Oil:

    http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/expert-q-a-bedbugs

    There are certainly a number of patents in place that rely of a repellent effect. However, one component of Neem Oil is Azadirachtin which is chemically active against a wide range of insects. It acts as a feeding inhibitor and life cycle disrupter on anything that picks it up. Unfortunately it doesn’t have a significant residual effect.

    Repelling bed bugs is also a bit of a double-edged sword. Dispersing a bed bug population is going to increase the difficultly of eradication. .

  3. James
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    Great article, Matt!
    I read that cedar oil “overwhelms” the pheromone system of bed bugs and they shut down their respiration and organs to protect themselves from the intense smell – they they die. Sort of like… they hold their breath until they die.
    The site also discusses a carpet powder that has residual effect.

    Thanks for the article
    James

  4. Matt
    Posted June 1, 2011 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Some volatile compounds in cedar oil are similar to some compounds used by insects for chemical communication. Any oil will physically block spiracles on direct application and cause suffocation.

  5. Posted August 15, 2011 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Thank God that someone found a way to get rid of these bugs. I like the ceddar oil smell and it is a real bonus that it kills the bugs.

  6. Posted February 16, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Protect the ones you love from Toxic Pesticides! Secure your yard & home today from insect invasion! Use Natures Natural Choice…Cedar Oil

  7. Posted March 9, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    Cedar Oil products are good for revenue generation but are really very ineffective products im my opinion. I use these products because of the “all natural” appeal it has with new customers. And in the pest control business it’s all about the money not so much the effectiveness of the treatments. The less effective the treatment, the more potential revenue from followup treatments . So I recommend Cedar Oil only for revenuse generation.

    Dave Contessa
    Contessabugs, Lake Worth FL

    • David Contessa
      Posted March 22, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know who posted that comment using my name! That is NOT how I feel! I have been using the cedar oil for my bedbug jobs and it has been working very well. But I would have to be a complete moron to post something like that!

      The Real David Contessa

  8. Matt
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Wow, that’s quite an admission Dave. You knowingly treat new customers premises with what you perceive to be an inadequate product in order to charge for re-treatments? You undertake single treatment plans for bed bugs?

    Rentokil are in the Pest Control business and we are ALL ABOUT the effectiveness of treatments to limit the damage to our brand should treatments fail. You seem to have a different business model to us.

  9. Roberta
    Posted May 31, 2012 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    Will constant cleaning and spraying keep these bed bugs under control?
    Roberta. vanuatu resorts

    • Posted May 31, 2012 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      Good hygiene practice will definitely help keep the bugs at bay but be sure to inspect rooms thoroughly and regularly for signs of bed bugs such as spotting.

  10. Dr. TCH
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 2:23 am | Permalink

    In my experience, in the case of something like a custom mattress which is infested, and cannot be easily replaced, frequent spraying (e.g., with household ammonia or steam)–along with covering the item with plastic (thus providing an actual physical barrier) can be a real life-saver. You particulary want to target little “hidey” places (and porous objects, like loosely woven fabric), which these little monsters love. Good luck!!

  11. HateBugs
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 3:11 am | Permalink

    I talked to some old folks who experienced bedbug infestation when DDT was used. They claim during those times they also used vinegar not only in the rinse water while washing clothes but directly spraying bed bugs, how come there is no data or info available about the use of vinegar? Is it because it is cheap? From what I understand crushed mothballs were also widely used in closets and drawers,

  12. Louis Tauscheck
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    C’est vrai, vous avez totalement raison, très intéressant!

  13. Janell
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Greetings! Ι’ve been reading your weblog for a long time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Houston Texas! Just wanted to say keep up the great work!

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