Bed bugs are one of the earth’s most stubborn, resilient, and adaptive pests. Their body morphology and behavior have changed so much. Each year, they require updating on what they are known. They have moved to bite people in daylight. This happens in the weirdest places, like libraries or workplaces.

New bed bug control methods are taking center stage in today’s treatment efforts. These include the Insect Growth Regulators that kill them at their early stages of development. These changing bed bug tactics have now called for more attention to them and how to deal with them. The article is an in-depth analysis of Insect Growth regulators.

What are insect growth regulators?

Insect Growth Regulators are forms of compounds and synthetic hormones. They mimic juvenile insect hormones. They also disrupt the normal function of early-stage insect body development. The most common Insect Growth Regulators are juvenile hormone analogs and chitin synthesis inhibitors. A Study shows that these regulators regulate or inhibit specific pathways. They also inhibit processes essential for bug and insect growth. Insect Growth Regulators work slower than standard pesticides.

Insect Growth Regulators have been tested and commonly used on bugs like cockroaches, fleas, and even mosquitoes. While they are slow acting on fleas, IGR prevented flea nymphs from developing into adults. In a study, researchers exposed cockroaches to Insect Growth Regulators and observed that they could not develop into adults due to molting problems. Those that reached adulthood could not produce viable eggs. Research showed that there are effects of IGR on mosquitoes. These included, among others, stress on adults, sterility in eggs, reduced life span, and female sterility.

Several variations of the juvenile hormone mimetic and chitin synthesis inhibitors have been made. The Juvenile Hormone Mimetic includes Methoprene, Hydroprene, Urea, butyl-phenol, and triazine. A study investigating the effects of Chitin Synthesis Inhibitors on larvae molting established that they affect the salmon louse.

Questions have arisen about the potential of these Insect Growth Regulators to harm humans, pets, and other beneficial insects like bees. Firstly, the production of these IGRs is usually pest specific. IGR manufacturers design them to target particular insects and pests. IGRs generally have low toxicity to humans and pets. Compared to conventional insecticides, they are safer to use in your home. It is also crucial to note that Insect Growth Regulators do not kill bed bugs. Instead, they will inhibit the growth of juvenile bugs. They also cause later sterility in adults and eggs.

How do insect growth regulators work?

Insect Growth Hormones work to inhibit the development and growth of bugs and insects. Various IGRs will impact bug juveniles, eggs, and even adults differently. Juvenile hormone mimetic inhibit bugs’ molting. They also cause stunted development of particular body parts like wings. On the other hand, Chitin inhibitors disrupt chitin production. Chitin is a carbohydrate crucial for the development of insect exoskeletons. This leaves the bugs at the mercy of the harsh environment and other predators.

Introduction of IGRs to egg stages of bugs caused reduced fertility. Studies showed that there was lethal molting disruption at the larvae period for those eggs that managed to hatch. This was after the introduction of the Juvenile Hormone Fenoxycarb. At the larvae stage, there was a noted improper molting. There were stunted features for some of the ones that molted. Death also occurred at the larvae stage. Bed bugs that reached adulthood faced survival difficulties in harsh environments owing to soft exoskeletons and stunted wings and limbs.

Insect Growth Regulators have high success rates on some bugs than others. However, as a way to have a long-lasting effect on bugs, it is still an impressive arsenal. Some cockroach eggs could survive the application of IGR, with hatching occurring. There occurred the successful development of nymphs with molting resulting in adult bugs. However, due to the IGR, these adults could not produce viable and sometimes have shortened life spans.

Insect growth regulators for bed bugs

Hydroprene is one of the most common Insect Growth Regulators that have been adapted for use on bed bugs. Hydroprene is relatively safe, with minimal toxicity on mammals and other beneficial insects. A study showed that reduced hatching on eggs applied directly with Hydroprene at 80%. Bed bug nymphs fed with hydroprene exhibited less melanized cuticle. This resulted in high mortality in adulthood.

Most IGRs reduced the development of bugs. But, there was an accelerated development of bed bugs. Subsequently, a reduction of melanin in adult bed bug cuticles occurred. Melanin is responsible for shielding bugs from the lethal infrared rays of sunlight. This meant that bed bug nymphs exposed to hydroprene managed to develop into adults. However, they would likely die from the harsh environment at a 40% mortality rate.

Methoprene is another IGR that works as well as Hydroprene on bed bugs. Bugs with hydroprene successfully fertilize untreated females, according to the study. Just like hydroprene, there was an observed reduction in the development of cuticles and the hatching of bed bug eggs. However, there was a higher effect than Hydroprene on the sterility of males. There was a noted deformed cuticle in molted bed bugs.

Delivering growth regulators on bed bugs

Hydroprene has elongated efficacy on bed bugs for up to 90 days. In a study, researchers observed a reduction in bed bug egg viability and molting problems resulting in death due to exposure to hydroprene. This has made it suitable for use on bed bug solutions. Hydroprene exists in liquid and aerosol forms, but it is easier to use it in a liquid state. You can pop the disc and place it near an infestation zone in liquid form. You can also dilute and spray onto infestation zones using a spray can. It is also wise to stream large amounts of hydroprene aerosols onto infested areas to leave long-lasting residues.

It is not compulsory to spray IGRs directly on bed bugs

You do not necessarily have to spray it directly on living bed bugs. You can spray hydroprene on infested areas because the residue left behind has long-lasting effects on bed bugs. Hydroprene may not be as effective as methoprene. However, it also has its benefits, with lower toxicity to humans and pets. Research has shown that even after reduced traces, hydroprene persisted in bed bugs.

Effectiveness of insect growth regulators on bed bugs

Insect regulators are slower to act on bed bugs and their eggs than conventional insecticides. Unlike common pesticides, they cause body morphological changes and hinder molting in bugs. This takes time, with some effects traced to bed bug adulthood after application at the egg stage. Moulting also takes time. For this reason, you should not expect bed bug mortality after just a day of application. IGRs are also typically insecticides. So, they are less effective than standard non-chemical options, such as heat treatment.

Studies have shown reduced effects of the Insect Growth Regulator compared to other bugs and insects. The study noted that bed bugs displayed reduced sensitivity to IGR. They required three- eighth fold application required for any observable effects. These growth disruptors work better for moths, cockroaches, and fleas than bed bugs. Bee bugs are more resilient. The feeding habits of bed bugs also make it hard for them to ingest these IGRs for effective results.

Insect Growth Regulators have been shown not to affect the sterility of male bed bugs. Treated males could still fertilize female bed bugs. Female bed bugs that survived were still able to produce viable eggs at least once before dying. Moreover, treatment with IGR did not deter live bed bugs from feeding on humans despite their developmental challenges.

Final Thoughts

Insect Growth regulators do not kill bed bugs but only inhibit growth and multiplication. Even though you can use hydroprene-based IGRs on bed bugs, they cannot guarantee your desired results. It is best to employ other effective treatment options, such as heat. Please check out our bed bug treatment guide for a comprehensive list of safe and effective options.


What is the cost of insect growth regulators for bed bugs?

IGR pricing varies depending on the product manufacturer, the packaged volume, and the retailer. For example, a sixteen-ounce can of gentrol, a popular bed bug IGR, retails at around $ 22 on Amazon.

Do you have to take any special precautions when using insect growth regulators?

Yes. Insect Growth Regulators have low toxicity to humans and the environment. Pesticides pose various safety issues if you fail to adhere to the safety precautions outlined on the product’s label.

What is the main disadvantage of using insect growth regulators on bed bugs?

Insect Growth Regulators are not as fast-acting as conventional pesticides. Bed bugs are also resilient, with studies showing reduced efficacy of IGRs.