Does Boric Acid Kill Bed Bugs?

Eliminating bed bugs is extremely difficult. As long as your home is infested, its occupants suffer from itchy bites and sleepless nights. Although they were once almost eliminated in the United States, the number of infestations has increased dramatically in the past few years. Any home, no matter how clean, can become infested. Because boric acid is an effective method on cockroaches and ants, many people think it should work on any insect, including bed bugs. To understand why it won't, it is important to understand how and when it works and why bed bugs are different.

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About Boric Acid

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Boric acid is a powder derived from boron and water. Boron is mined from the ground and has been used in a variety of products, including toothpaste and mouthwash and as a laundry additive.

How Boric Acid Kills Insects

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Boric acid is ingested or absorbed into the insect's system. Once there, it works as a stomach poison that attacks the nervous system and eventually paralyzes the insect. Then it works as a drying agent to their bodies.

When Boric Acid Works

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Boric acid works great on insects with chewing mouth parts because it can be made more palatable by adding bait -- mixing it with powdered sugar for ants, for example. Cockroaches may also ingest it if they should crawl over boric acid. The acid sticks to their bodies and is then ingested later when the cockroach preens itself.

When Boric Acid Doesn’t Work

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According to the University of Cincinnati, bed bugs are different from roaches because they do not having chewing mouth parts. They live off blood, so their mouths are designed to pierce and suck. Although boric acid may actually work on them, getting them to ingest it is difficult. Their systems may absorb it, but not enough to be effective.

Considerations

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Bed bugs are a problem best dealt with quickly by professionals. The more time bed bugs have in a home before you eliminate them, the more they will spread. Strong pesticides and heat are the only two effective ways of eliminating bed bugs.