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Deltamethrin for Bed Bugs [DIY Guide]

Pesticides are one of the first lines of defense for homeowners battling a bedbug infestation. One of the most popular classes of insecticides is pyrethroids, which have been around since 1949.

These insecticides are derived from chrysanthemum flowers and are highly toxic to insects but relatively safe for humans, provided you don’t inhale or inject large quantities of them. One of the pyrethroids frequently used against bedbugs is deltamethrin, which was invented in 1976 and is also important for controlling malaria vectors like mosquitoes.

Deltamethrin is used frequently for bed bug infestations because it is easy to use and comes in both spray and powder forms, which is important for treating comprehensively.

However, bed bugs have also evolved to be resistant to deltamethrin, making treatment with this pesticide ineffective against certain populations. We’re here to tell you everything you need to know about using this pesticide for treating bed bugs.

How to Use Deltamethrin Against Bed Bugs

Deltamethrin is a really versatile pesticide since it generally comes in two forms, including concentrates like Suspend SC that can be diluted for use in a sprayer, as well as dusts like Delta Dust Insecticide that can be spread around areas dry.

Suspend SC
Active Ingredient: Deltamethrin 4.75%

Suspend SC insecticide is a suspended concentrate containing Deltamethrin. Suspend SC broad label includes the control of ants (Suspend makes an effective ant spray killer), spiders, roaches, flies, mosquitoes, fleas, wasps and hornets, centipedes, millipedes, pantry pests, silverfish, bedbugs, beetles and many more.

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Since bed bugs are such a stubborn pest to get rid of and generally require multiple methods of pest control for effective treatment, both sprays and dust can be used effectively against bed bugs.

For deltamethrin sprays, don’t apply them directly to bedding, upholstery, or other areas where children and pets will come into regular contact.

 Instead, focus on treating where the bed bugs live – in and around cracks and crevices. This can include baseboards, cracks in paneled walls, furniture (particularly bedframes), and even in electrical outlets. A rule of thumb for checking whether bed bugs may be living in a crack is to use a credit card – as bed bugs are about the same width. If you can fit a credit card into a crevice, a bed bug could live there comfortably.

While deltamethrin sprays are safe when used as directed, even for children, pets, and pregnant women, you’re more likely to get sick from pesticide poisoning if you are constantly exposed to residual pesticide left on surfaces you commonly touch.

For dusts, focus on areas where you can’t treat easily with a spray. Dusts like Delta Dust are designed to be used with a duster system, which uses air pressure to help push dust into targeted areas.

Delta Dust Insecticide
Active Ingredient: Deltamethrin 0.05%

Delta Dust containing deltamethrin is the world’s first and only 100% waterproof insecticide dust, so it works in the wet and damp places that insects love. Nothing short of running water will disturb it, making Delta Dust an ideal crack and crevice treatment.

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These make dusters great for pushing deep into cracks to get bed bugs and their eggs right where they live. Just remember that your goal with dust is not to coat the room, but rather to make a barely visible layer on surfaces near where the bed bugs live. If you can see the powder all over the room, you’ve definitely used too much.

How Often to Treat with Deltamethrin?

You should always check the label for the specific product you’re using, but don’t be afraid to be aggressive with bedbug treatment, as these pests can be very persistent.

Though products containing deltamethrin like Suspend SC have a residual effect for up to three months, you may want to treat more frequently than that. Suspend SC in particular says you can treat as often as every three weeks.  

However, one thing to keep in mind when treating repeatedly for bed bugs is that you should be using a variety of methods and vacuuming constantly. One of the risks of relying on only one pesticide for controlling bed bugs is that they can develop resistance to it. So it’s a bit of a balancing act between treating aggressively and not overtreating and encouraging pesticide resistance.

Where Else Can You Use Deltamethrin?

Deltamethrin is a general pesticide that can be used for all sorts of different pests. In addition to the indoor applications for bed bugs we just mentioned, you can also use it outside in a sprayer, mister, or fogger to control other pests like ants or mosquitoes.

Does Deltamethrin Work?

In theory, it should. Deltamethrin is long proven to be effective against bed bugs and a huge array of other pest insects. However, deltamethrin is also a bit of a dice roll for controlling bed bug these days because many populations have developed resistance to this pesticide.

Unfortunately, it’s all but impossible to know before treating whether the population that has infected your home is a deltamethrin-resistant population. These strains aren’t restricted to any particular part of the world since bed bugs are spread so easily by traveling with luggage, so you may not realize you’re dealing with a resistant strain until your treatment works less well than expected.

While this can be a distressing problem, scientists are working on a solution. Some recent studies have found that certain essential oils like geraniol can have a synergistic effect on deltamethrin, making it more effective against pesticide-resistant bed bugs. So you may find you need to use deltamethrin in conjunction with another product like Essentria IC3, which contains minimum-risk ingredients, including geraniol.

Which is Better – Deltamethrin or Pyrethrin?

Pyrethrin is another type of pyrethroid, which means it is very similar to deltamethrin and acts on the same part of the insects’ nervous system. So it’s not so much that one of these pesticides will be better than the other, and more a matter of it depending on your unique population of bed bugs.

Resistance can develop to either or both of these pesticides, so you may find more success with one or another. It may also be worth your while to alternate treating with these pesticides to lower the risk of heavy resistance developing.

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Written by Miles Martin

Miles is a professional science writer with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the University of Rhode Island and a Masters of Science in Science Communication and Public Engagement from the University of Edinburgh.

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