Bed bug infestations are becoming common, and along with this are introducing multiple alternatives to killing bed bugs.
Chemicals and pesticides might be the most typical and popular methods, but they also come with their own set of disadvantages, like environment degradation.
Naturally occurring minerals like boric acid have been used as insecticides since the early 19th century, and it is still in use today. Yes, boric acid has the capability of killing bed bugs, but it has its limitations.
Based on a study by the Journal of Economic Entomology, it can get rid of a significant number of bed bugs when ingested. Alternatively, it can be used as a dust, covering the bed bug’s outer and waxy covering to hasten its death.
In the same research, starved bed bugs were placed in a container with boric acid. While this naturally occurring substance was able to kill the bed bugs, it took 14 days for these starved bugs to die.
How Does Boric Acid Kill Bed Bugs?
Boric acid, a combination of boron and oxygen, can be found in various household elements. Boron, in particular, is considered an irritant and can alter and even inhibit the bed bug’s nervous system.
When it comes to contact with their skin, it can be seen as an abrasive and, as a result, may cause desiccation and ultimately kill them.
Additionally, when it comes to contact with their outer shell, it blocks their spiracles. Spiracles are considered to be the bed bug’s respiration mechanism, and when blocked with boric acid, may cause suffocation.
On the other hand, when it’s ingested, it can slowly break down the bed bug’s internal organs. It is also known for its ability to work against the bug’s reproduction cycle, thus, inhibiting the maturation of its eggs.
This, by far, is one of the reasons why boric acid is favored over other chemical treatments.
Over the years, boric acid has proven to be an effective way of treating bed bugs. However, it isn’t always a one-stop solution. In most cases, it can take several applications before the infestation is completely eliminated.
How to Properly Use Boric Acid to Kill Bed Bugs
Well-praised for its versatile properties, boric acid has been hailed as a safe and effective way to kill bed bugs. However, bear in mind that these kinds of treatments are only as effective as its application.
If you’re looking to use boric acid, here are some of the things you need to remember:
Clear All Furniture Pieces
The use of boric acid as a pest control treatment or solution works best in areas where the furniture is cleared.
This means any sofa, bed, and other pieces of furniture that may be present should be removed and taken out of the room you intend to treat.
This is an essential step because leaving anything in the room may simply end up being a hiding spot for the bed bugs.
Spread Boric Acid Evenly, Targeting All Areas
One of the downsides of using boric acid is that it needs to be in direct contact with the bed bugs before they can cause actual harm to these pests.
This means that you need to spread the boric acid evenly throughout the area of treatment.
For instance, if it’s a bed bug infestation in a bedroom, make sure that you spread out the boric acid on all surfaces and areas, including the windowsills, behind your curtain rod, along the drawer handles, and all other areas where the bugs might be hiding.
Alternatively, if you don’t like the idea of having boric acid dust all over your room, you may create a repellant spray. In warm water, simply dissolve boric acid.
This mixture alone will give you your “killer spray.” Ensure that the mixture is thoroughly mixed and that the boric acid has completely dissolved. You can make large batches, enough to treat an entire room.
Create a Boric Acid Bait for Bed Bugs
Aside from bed bugs, boric acid is also effective in other pests, such as German cockroaches. However, the effectiveness and potency of boric acid can be maximized if you create a bait.
Since roaches and bed bugs have varying diets, creating the bait would be different for both pests.
When creating a bait specifically for bed bugs – think about what bed bugs eat.
Their diet consists of blood – and while the idea of mixing blood with boric acid might seem too far-fetched, it can be done.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be human blood. It can be chicken blood, or other animal sources, which can be bought from a butcher.
If you have that at your disposal, mix it with boric acid and place it in various corners of the room where you suspect bed bugs might be present.
This bait, in turn, will attract bed bugs and will force them out of their hiding spots.
As mentioned earlier, boric acid acts far more effectively when ingested, and this is one of the simplest yet most effective methods to target at least some of the bed bugs that are inside your room.
Side Note: While the probability of killing all bed bugs with boric acid might seem like a good idea, its effectiveness relies on two things: how long these bed bugs would stay on areas sprayed with boric acid, or how much of the boric acid bait they’ve taken.
With that being said, using boric acid can help kill bed bugs, but it is never a good idea to use it as a standalone treatment. A full-blown infestation requires far more than using alternative treatment methods.
How Much Boric Acid Do You Need to Kill Bed Bugs?
According to the study we mentioned earlier, a concentration of 0.5% boric acid has yielded a whooping 80% mortality rate when killing bed bugs.
Although the numbers are far too high, it is always important to remember that the mortality rate only applies to those who’ve ingested the said bait.
Additionally, while it’s considered to be effective, it may take up to one whole week for the boric acid to take effect and kill these annoying bed bugs.
On the other hand, a blood meal with a boric acid concentration of 1% (or even more) is said to kill bed bugs as fast as four days.
While it may not be an instant death, the mortality rate seemed far more promising than using 0.5% boric acid alone.
How to Dispose of Boric Acid After Killing Bed Bugs
Urban, agricultural, and even public health sectors have taken advantage of boric acid in terms of its use as a pest control agent.
It’s relatively cheaper than other methods, and it yields better results when done properly. Additionally, it’s less straining, and it takes the least amount of effort to use.
However, after boric acid has done its part in eliminating these irritating bed bugs hovering around, getting rid of them in the right manner is just as important.
Safety is the first and foremost priority. If boric acid is accidentally ingested or inhaled by humans, large amounts can be highly hazardous.
Proper disposal and handling should always be observed. If you’ve scattered boric acid dust all over your home, the simplest and easiest way to take them all out is by vacuuming.
Sweeping the floor is an option, but using your vacuum cleaner is by far the most efficient method of doing so.
When using your vacuum cleaner, ensure that you have a disposal bag attached at the end. This bag will contain all the debris, dust, and boric acid residues that were vacuumed, not to mention all the dead bed bugs.
After that, empty the bag into a trash can and make sure to seal it tightly, and properly dispose of the tightly sealed bag.
Alternatively, you may also dilute the boric acid properly. Mix with water and carefully flush down the toilet. NEVER flush down boric acid in the toilet undiluted.
This may cause severe damage to your sewer or plumbing system, which would require costly repairs in the long run.
It is also strongly advised that you wear proper protective gear whenever using boric acid. Wear gloves and a face mask, as certain particles may cause skin irritation or respiratory issues if inhaled directly.
How Long Does it Take Boric Acid to Kill Bed Bugs?
The amount of time it takes for boric acid to take effect in terms of killing bed bugs may significantly vary. It varies depending on the infestation, the severity, and the method of treatment used.
When used as baits, boric acid may take about 4-7 days before the bed bugs die off. It’s a slow death, which during this period, the pests slowly get weaker and eventually die off as the boric acid disrupts the nervous, digestive, and reproductive of these pests.
On the other hand, if used as a diluted spray or when scattered in the room as a fine powder, it may take a minimum of 14 days before the bed bugs could die from dehydration.
The 14-day period is applicable only if the bed bugs are starved. This may even take longer if there is still food available in the immediate area of the infestation.
Is It Safe to Place Boric Acid in a Mattress?
Safety alone, as long as there won’t be any human or pet lying down on the mattress with boric acid, it’s fine. However, it’s relatively inconvenient, not to mention difficult to clean up.
Boric acid, when placed on the mattress, may cause skin irritation and other medical issues if not properly handled.
With that being said, it’s important that during the treatment process, mattresses applied with boric acid should be covered with thick plastic.
This will ensure that no one or anything is exposed to the boric acid directly, and it’ll make cleaning up much easier afterwards.
Dealing with the nightmare of a bed bug infestation has never been a fun thing to experience.
Although multiple treatments are available, the majority of homeowners often resort to using boric acid or borax to help address this infestation.
Does it kill bed bugs?
Yes – when ingested, it takes at least 4 days for bed bugs to die.
When used as a fine powder/dust and when scattered inside the infested room, it could take up to two weeks. This may even take longer depending on the severity of the infestation and the availability of blood meal.