Hot 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.
We’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.