Bed bugs have tarsal claws which enable them to climb so well. These tarsal claws are much like a cat’s claw. To their advantage these tarsal claws do not pick up pesticides very well.
They can walk right over normal formulations of bug spray, once it has dried, with very little effect. There are many different formulations of pesticides. Insecticide sprays come in suspended concentrates, emulsified concentrates, wettable powders, and micro-encapsulated formulations. Micro-encapsulated products and wettable powders have the best residual effect, once dry.
You also have to consider what class of pesticide you are using to battle bed bug infestations. Pyrethroids are the common ingredient in store bought bed bug killers. Many bed bug control products contain more than one kind of insecticide. Yes, pyrethroids are generally considered safe for the public. Yet by giving masses of people one kind of bug spray is asking for trouble down the line. In Ohio, pyrethroid resistant strains are common. This means, you can spray them and only kill a percentage of them. The ones that survive breed with other survivors. Making the product useless over time.
This is true for products with more than one ingredient. You are making them more resistant to different ingredients all at once. They call these “hybrid control products”. Hybrids include more than one mode of action in one spray bottle. While it can increase success, it is better to apply a single mode of action and follow up with a different one. Especially if you think you’ll need more than one treatment. This does not matter so much if you have experience in treating bed bugs.
Pyrethroids are usually mixed with neonicotinoids and a synergist. The synergist makes it work better.
There are a few alternative products that you can use on bed bugs. Phantom is a slow acting product with the active ingredient Chlorfenapyr. Nuvan Directed Spray Aerosol uses another mode of action dichlorvos. Not the safest thing to spray your bed with. That is my opinion. You can see there are other options to the common pyrethroid sprays. There is even fungal spores as a biological control. Keep in mind, it is more the process than the product that gets success.
We recommend that DIY’ers only use chemicals when non-chemical controls fail. Or use pesticides as part of a comprehensive control plan.