6 things NOT to do with a fogger

Fogging for insects used to be the ‘bomb’ (pun intended) It was the end all cure all and even after a failed treatment the client would just be in utter amazement that an insect would live through such a complete and thorough dousing of their house rather than be upset with the technician. Hey maybe we should go back to it.

For some companies years ago fogging was a regular and everyday thing but now I’m not so sure. There were the stainless steel type fog machines that looked similar to a 1950’s blender, the thermal unit that looks more like a gun from the movie Rambo and even the Micro-gen that you put what appeared to be a scientific beaker filled with a mysterious liquid in a case that could pass for film projector. All of these wild looking machines dispensed a ULV or ultra low volume of insecticide where ever you aimed them and any bug in its path was surely doomed. Pest control companies stocked each truck with these tools and charged extra anytime the need arose.

Of course foggers are not exclusive to pest control professionals and you don’t need some fancy machine to send out a vaporous ‘cloud of death’ since they come in convenient little 4 to 6 ounce do it yourself can. Whether you are a pro or homeowner however there are a few things you should never do with foggers because one thing has remained the same; cide = kill

6 things you should NOT do

Never use around open flames Newer materials may be less of a fire hazard but did you know that even particles of flour are extremely flammable? These tiny insecticide droplets are under pressure and have inert ingredients to help carry it which can and often does result in a bad situation when used around pilot lights or flames.

Never put more than the recommended amount of foggers in a structure. Doing so changes the name from fogger to BOMB! Literally.

Never put your fogger in a smaller space than what the label says it will treat. Once you click the can that things dispensing until it’s done. Putting a can under a sink or a tiny room will simply cause a mess, cause the heavy fog to possibly find hidden escapes routes and go to unintended areas and throw off any room re-entry recommendations which can cause inadvertent exposure.

Don’t put foggers in low crawl spaces or attics. In fact what are you doing in a crawl space anyway with a fogger? Let a pro do it with his Neanderthal machine from the entry point where everybody is a little safer. Foggers in low areas simply soak the surface above it and won’t spread out the way it’s intended. If possible, angle the can securely so it will shoot out and not build up in a mess directly overhead.

Never use a fogger without reading the safety precautions. I know pictures are great and if we see a flea or a roach pic on the can that’s all we need to know right? Wrong my friend, these innocent looking little cans have some powerful stuff inside and you need to know the details of what to wear for protection, how long to stay away and how much your can will treat.

Finally, Never throw the can into a room or area hoping it will do its job. I saw my buddy Billy The Exterminator do this in an episode where he had yellow jackets in a shed. It’s really not good and you can’t be guaranteed which way it’ll end up and besides being a waste it may be really unsafe.

Did I miss any? I’d like to hear what you have to say and any experiences you’ve had so the rest of us can benefit and all stay a little safer if indeed we have to use a bug bomb.

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. Pestcemetery.com was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.

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  • A couple of articles on the consequences of using too many bug bombs and of course the ones written by you are great – http://callprobest.com/blog/2009/08/bug-bombs-blamed-for-pennsylvania-house-blast/ and http://callprobest.com/blog/2009/07/tenants-battle-against-cockroaches-causes-explosion-at-apartment-complex/

    Great info for the general DIY folks out there.

  • Both of your links are MUST reads if anyone is still not convinced. Explosions should catch someone’s attention you’d think.

    BTW- I had you in mind when I mentioned Billy’s fogger episode. I was flabbergasted to watch him do that.


    what about setting one off in a 10 x 10 storage unit?

  • I’m sure it’s labeled for such but read to make sure…Doubtful it’ll be effective if you have it full of stuff…. Fog dosen’t penetrate real well unless you have the right delivery equipment… a 4 ounce can isn’t it

  • Morgan Vick

    what about a 12 by 31 storage unit…I found 3 black widows when loading it and now my garage items are in there with my house items.

  • Not saying it won’t help….but it may be better to have a pro go in if you’re worried about getting bit.

  • marque2

    So how do you figure the number of bombs? The fogger says one per 250 square feet, and I am going to bomb a 350 square foot room, so I use 2 right even though it is a bit over the minimum recommended amount.

  • marque2

    I think the effectiveness will also be off because the bugs will just crawl in again from the surrounding units. I would think in a storage unit you should contact management about the problem first.

  • Guest

    My cat’s carpeted condo seems to be the start point for a carpet beetle issue. I thought tenting it outside with plastic bags and sealed and a bug bomb would work but I’m guessing it might not? Any other ideas on how to fumigate this one thing?

  • A fogger won’t do the trick . I’d vacuum thoroughly and apply a liquid residual insecticide with added igr- intergrated growth regulator. Much how you would for fleas

  • Franco

    Anyone know if these gas fumers will damage any electronics? I have some very expensive equipment that I don’t want to damage and certainly can’t afford to replace. However, removing just some them from the room would be a monumental task in itself. So, does anyone know for absolute certain if it is safe to use a fogger around electronics?

  • chris

    can you use a fogger in your vehicle? i have found multiple spider webs and on occasion two different kind of spiders and not sure if there is more, if not what would you recommend. this is a huge problem that i want to take care of asap. thanks

  • I wouldn’t. The spider will just slink back in the cracks till the danger is past. Better to go through with a vacuum cleaner. Then if need be an insecticide aerosol with straw tip. Then consider where you’re parking. Switch it up and I bet the problem will subside.

  • Andy

    I have items that I am moving out of a storage area that had quite a bit of cockroach activity. These items have been placed in a u-haul trailer (160 sq ft). I would like to put a fogger in the trailer (closed of course) in order to ensure that none of these pests hitch a ride to my new place. What do you recommend for such a small area? Is a fogger OK?

  • Things are usually so packed that #1 the fog won’t get to where it needs to and #2, the roaches have plenty of places to hide out to avoid the fog. I’d suggest sprinkling a scatter bait such as Niban and let it sit a few days. Then unpack carefully and inspect what u can before bringing it in.

  • Andy

    Thanks very much!

  • Prawira Hutapea

    Hi Doc! I got a question maybe you could help me with. I got a stack of organic waste the size of around 20x20x4 meters, in a field of 5000 sq meters. I may need to fumigate the stack or fog the area surround it. But the thing is, it is 50-60 meters away from an incinerator plant. Is fogging safe considering the distance? Or is it safer to fumigate despite much more costly and complex procedure? Thanks alot

  • Jessica Byrd

    We have found 15 mud diabetes in our kids play room. We haven’t found a nest yet what should we do? We keep the door closed and kill them as we see them.

  • Jessica Byrd

    (Mud daubers) sorry a u to correct

  • They are beneficial and rarely sting…Do your best to just seal them out

  • Kim

    My son had hundreds of roaches of all different sizes in his Camry and they were only getting worse. I set off 6 bug foggers (yes, way more that recommended & I was afraid the car might blow up..lol) and hoped for the best. We looked in the windows and saw them all coming out and dying. When we opened the car up about 18 hours later, 95% of them were dead. We cleaned up and put several roach traps in there. Within a few days, no more were seen again. This was about 5 months ago and still have seen none.

  • erieona young

    I have a Raid fogger I want to put in my garage but I have been seeing things about the hot water heater. I’m not sure if its safe now. Do I need to cover the heater or something? If I have to do anything with the buttons I wont touch it. Everything thing else is cleared out of the garage but I’m not sure if there is a safety issue that needs to be addressed first. Also It says to only put 1 can in a room at a time does that mean I can’t use say 3 cans over the course of 8 hrs just switching to a new can every 4 hours? or is that a bad idea?

  • Shar G

    My friend lives in a house that’s been turned into “quad” apts, everyone haas their own room and the kitchen and bathroom are shared. My friend roommate (shares a connecting wall with) has been letting off 2-4 raid bug bombs a day, sometimes she sits in the room with it and she never tells anyone she’s doing it. I was there the other night and she let one off and didn’t tell anyone, we started coughing and having shortness of breath. The next day we were both vomiting, coughing, having joint pain and a headache. It’s been 2 days now with those symptoms plus feeling like our heart was going to pound out of our bodies and I’m wondering if it could be the bug bomb? She’s been exposed to them daily for just over a week and I was only exposed the one day.

  • Wow!!!! I’m so sorry to hear of your dilemma. I’m not a Doctor nor do I know the exact configuration of construction of the dwelling so I can’t speak directly. Normally, fogging materials do not penetrate walls But if what you say is true– seems like a terrible common denominator to me. I’d be about the loudest squeaky wheel to the owner of the building ever.

  • Shar G

    Thank you for your response! The building is a house, so rooms are rented separately and her room and my friends room is made out of what used to be the garage, their rooms are on the same heating system and the doors all have about an inch gap under the door. We’ll find out for sure tomorrow, my friend is having tests done to check for poisoning.

  • Melanie Howard

    I have fleas and roaches at my rented mobile home. I have 3 small kids and cant set foggers in the house can I do them under the trailer? Thats where they are coming from anyway

  • Leandra Harrison

    I’m in Florida and have a 10 x 16 foot shed, the walls are insulated white white styrofoam, then dry wall & paint. The ceiling has the same white styrofoam between the 2 by 4’s for insulation to keep my a/c air cold. So this shed looks like a finished room, but its in the woods….with the bugs. Big ants, spiders, little ants & cockroaches. I’m sure these critters have gotten in through the ridge vent in the roof. The inside does ok with being sealed well, but I’ve seen crawly things come out from the ceiling. I know styrofoam can melt with chemicals or heat, what can I do to get them out of my ceiling/roof line? Most foggers cover MORE than the 160 square feet that I have & I’m afraid the chemicals will melt my exposed roof insulation, please help as I don’t know if I should call an exterminator….thank you in advance!!! HALP!!!!!!!!

  • Try baits for everything but the spiders. Gel baits work well such as Maxforce. For the voids or seams a bit of dust will work. Wear proper protection. Several dusts come in squeeze type bottles. Delta is a good dust

    Then if you don’t get results or don’t want to try that. Give a local pro a shot. Usually a fairly simple job

  • carolyn

    I have a sealed 12×24 scrapbooking bldg. however, I have noticed if I leave the front door open while working, I noticed a couple of roaches come in. is it safe to open a roach spray bomb without harming my scrapbook paper? the room only has a refrigerator and a window air conditioner unit.

  • Better to use scatter baits such as Niban and or sticky traps. Fog isn’t gonna be effective with what I’m imagining you are describing.

  • Daniel

    I had a black widow spider up in the steering column that I could not get. She kept coming out at night and forming a web between the seat and the steering column. No pest company would remove it because it was not a fixed structure. A little research online showed that people had success with foggers. So I backed the car out of the garage, rolled up the windows and put the fogger under the steering wheel. A couple hours later I checked on it and the spider was dead and dangling. Use the one that will leave a powder not oily residue. Since it left a powder, it was easy to wipe clean. Good luck!

  • Jared

    We have a covered front porch (built like a deck) and red wasps crawl in between the boards and build nests UNDER the porch. Not looking to crawl under there WITH the wasps. I was planning on just killing them as we see them but as they come out between the boards right at the front door my wife wants them all gone at the same time. Suggestions? Thanks!

  • Sonny Burnett

    I film porn in my 10×10 storage unit…wanna come over?

  • Diane Burgess


  • Alvin Sandles

    Can I use a single can of fogger in my master bedroom only?

  • Marcie Clabaugh

    Can I put the hot shot in 10×10 storage unit with an overhead sprinkler system?

  • Dalphon Hamilton

    My son plans to bomb the house. I am wrapping my clothes in 50-gallon storage bags. In fact I am bagging just about everything. I have an extensive collection of paper back, hard back, and comic books. Do I need to wrap them up, too. The directions don’t mention books or whether to deal them up or leave them out. He’s using Hot Shot Fogger. Thanks for the help.