Boric Acid has been registered as an insecticide in the United States since 1948. Traditionally, cotton balls or scraps of fabric would be soaked in a homemade mixture of powdered boric acid, sugar and water and left on ant trails.
More advanced pastes and gels containing boric acid and a bait medium are available today for use against a number of insects, including roaches, silverfish, and fleas.
Bedbugs were nearly eliminated in the United States with the use of DDT early in the 20th century, but have subsequently returned since the insecticide was banned because of health concerns.
Boric acid has been found to have little to no effect on bedbugs, although it is effective against other insects. As an insecticide, boric acid works by poisoning insects that ingest it, either directly or with a bait medium.
Bedbugs do not eat bait, and do not groom themselves, so they simply do not ingest the poison. A few bedbugs in a large colony may be fatally exposed to the boric acid, but it is now widely considered to be ineffective in eradicating a bedbug infestation.
For those hoping to eliminate bedbugs without boric acid, the insects may be removed with a strong household vacuum.
Soft surfaces, such as bedding and pajamas, can be frozen for a minimum of 24 hours, or washed in hot water of at least 97 degrees Fahrenheit to kill the bedbugs.
However, due to the tiny size of the insect and the difficulty of wiping out a bedbug infestation, it is highly recommended that a professional exterminator be contacted.
Bedbugs are not uncommon, nor are they a sign of poor housekeeping. To help keep them out of a clean home, wash bedding in hot water at least once a week.
Use bed netting if you travel to the tropics, and carefully inspect your luggage for insects when you return home.
Maintain routine professional insect prevention and extermination around your home, and vacuum inside your home thoroughly every week.
Living in tropical climates and having pets increases your risk of bedbug infestation, so exercise extra caution in either of these circumstances.
Boric acid is highly toxic to children and pets. It should not be inhaled by anyone, even healthy adults, so it cannot be used to treat bedding or mattresses.
Additionally, long-term exposure to boric acid has been found to cause testicular atrophy in lab animals. In light of its inefficacy against bedbugs and the potential health risks, it is recommended that boric acid not be used against bedbugs.
“Boric Acid”. Bedbug Central TV, episode #12. Dir. Jeff White, 2008.