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.

  • VALERIE

    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