Bed bugs are notorious for being able to adapt to different insecticide formulations. Lately, this has sparked a renewed interest in the development of powders that kill these parasites by dehydrating them.
No one wants to have bed bugs in their home. So, if you have a bed bug problem, you might be wondering if silica gel kills bed bugs and how effective it is. You’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’ll answer the most common questions people have regarding this natural bed bug elimination method. Let’s dive in!
Bed Bugs: Our Unwanted Roommates
For a long time, bed bugs have been those unwanted parasitic insects dwelling in homes, feeding on the blood of humans and our beloved pets. The common bed bug, Cimex lectularius, prefers human blood over the blood of other hosts.
From our furniture to our clothing and other textile materials, bed bugs can dwell anywhere in the home. Since they’re most active at night, your mattress is the most likely place to find a bed bug infestation.
Bed bugs will crawl out from the crevices of the mattress while you’re sleeping to feast on the exposed skin of your legs, arms, neck, and even your face.
These insect bites may go unnoticed since bed bug bites are painless and people can often mistake them for a rash. If red bumps have appeared on your skin overnight accompanied by itching and redness, you may have bed bugs.
What is Silica Gel?
Silica gel is a soft, white, powdered form of silicon dioxide (a.k.a. silica). It is a non-crystalline, porous material.
Silica gel has many uses. It’s most commonly used in:
- Drying Agents (Desiccants)
Silica gel is used to prevent the accumulation of moisture in stored products.
- Anti-Caking Agents
It’s an additive that prevents the formation of lumps in granulated or powdered pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and food.
Silica gel is a great pest control measure because of its harmless effect on mammals.
Silica Gel as Bed Bug Control
Nowadays, people use all kinds of insecticides to control and kill bed bugs. A few of the most common substances used for this are neonicotinoids (which affect the nervous system) and pyrroles (which decrease energy production). Those who prefer more natural solutions usually reach for diatomaceous earth. But diatomaceous earth isn’t actually the best thing to use as a low toxicity bed bug remedy. Silica gel is.
Diatomaceous earth is a dehydrating compound that showed immense potential in laboratory studies. And yet, when the researchers applied it to a real-life bed bug infestation, the results weren’t promising. The real-life application sadly didn’t replicate the impressive results achieved in the lab.
This is why researchers have begun using silica dust as a way to control bed bugs. Silica powder’s light, fluffy texture and electrostatic charge allow it to easily get stuck on the bed bugs that are crawling over the different surfaces where the dust has been applied. This makes it a much better bed bug control method.
Silica dust, however, can be too lightweight. This resulted in the powder remaining suspended in the air rather than getting stuck on the bugs. Adding petroleum distillate and other similar additives to the silica powder or incorporating it into liquid sprays helps to weigh it down. This will help the dust adhere to the bed bugs as well as any surfaces that you apply it to.
How Does Silica Gel Kill Bed Bugs?
Like many insects, bed bugs have an exoskeleton. This not only protects the bugs but also helps them stay hydrated.
Silica gel is great for getting rid of these bugs since it actually removes the thick protective outer layer on bed bugs that helps them conserve body moisture.
How is silica able to do that? Bed bugs have a waxy layer on their cuticle. Silica dust destroys that waxy layer, causing the bugs to dry out and die from dehydration.
Can I Use Silica Gel to Kill Bed Bugs?
The answer to this question is an overwhelming “Yes.” You can and should! Unlike some insecticides like boric acid that must be ingested by the insects for it to work, desiccants like silica gel are safe and very effective tools for killing bed bugs.
Some other reasons why you should try silica gel dust when trying to control and manage a bed bug infestation are:
- Because of its low toxicity to mammals (approximately as dangerous as table salt), it’s less harmful to humans.
- It poses little inhalation risk
- It penetrates the cracks and crevices where bed bugs hide.
- Silica gel is a much better long-term solution than most.
- Studies have shown that it has long-term residual effects, particularly in less humid environments.
Silica Gel Dust as a Preventive Tool
Besides helping you kill bed bugs, silica gel dust can also help you keep bed bug infestations from spreading.
You’ll need to apply it around the perimeter of your home as well as around and under sofas, beds, doors, and even in corridors.
This will help you be sure that the bed bugs won’t migrate to other parts of your home. It’ll also make sure that they don’t return once you have dealt with your current infestation.
On top of that, the dust that you apply to treated areas has residual effects, too. These residual effects can last for over a year. This is another added bonus of using silica gel dust to combat bed bugs. Just make sure that you periodically reapply the silica dust to keep your home bed bug free!