The best insect fogger
An insect fogger disperses a steady mist of insecticide that will fill up an entire room and penetrate walls, carpeting, and other surfaces. It is the consumer equivalent of an expensive tenting treatment or a professional-grade "bug bomb."
Some insect foggers are formulated to kill a broad spectrum of pests, while others are designed to eliminate specific types of bugs, such as fruit flies, house flies, or fleas. The distinction between outdoor and indoor formulations is also important.
If you are in need of a whole-room pest solution, continue reading our buying guide. Our top pick is the PT Alpine Pressurized Fly Bait, an effective combination of attractant and insecticide that handles swarms of fruit flies or common house flies with minimal residue.
Considerations when choosing insect foggers
Indoor vs. outdoor
You probably have a good idea of where the infestation lies, but you should be sure that you purchase the right type of insect fogger.
While the majority of insect foggers are designed for indoor use, outdoor foggers are available as well and are far more potent.
Types of insects
Not all insect foggers are created alike, so it is important to know which types of insects a particular formula is designed to dispatch.
Room foggers tend to work best against swarms of flying insects, such as fruit flies or house flies. The mist needs to penetrate upholstery and carpeting to kill other insects, such as fleas, ants, or cockroaches.
An insect fogger rated for indoor use may not be designed to kill typical outdoor pests, such as wasps, Japanese beetles, or moths.
Some insect foggers can be used to deliver short bursts of insecticide, while others are intended to be whole room "bug bombs," which release a continuous mist until all the contents have been delivered. The label or box should clearly state the average coverage area in terms of square footage. Most indoor foggers will saturate an average-size room and take about two hours to fully discharge.
While an insect fogger's formula needs to be powerful enough to exterminate unwanted pests, it should also be safe enough to use around children and pets. Most foggers do leave some residue behind, so users will have to do some cleaning to remove it. Children and pets should never be allowed in the same space as an active insect fogger -- and neither should you. Important safety information, including treatments for exposure, should be included in the product information.
Indoor or outdoor use
Some insect foggers are promoted as effective for both indoor and outdoor pests, but in reality, most are better suited for one environment or the other. Outdoor foggers perform well against swarming insects such as mosquitoes but may be too strong -- or unsafe -- to set off in a kitchen or bedroom.
Most insecticide formulas have strong chemical odors because of the nature of the ingredients. A number of insect fogger manufacturers have now introduced indoor foggers with pleasant fragrances, so users and visitors won't be overwhelmed after the application is finished.
A typical insect fogger saturates the room with a fine mist that can become tacky and messy after drying. Some manufacturers have created new formulas for insect foggers that significantly reduces the amount of residue they leave behind.
Entry-level insect foggers intended for short bursts against smaller insects can cost anywhere between $5 and $15 and include many recognizable brand names. Insect foggers with a higher concentration of insecticide for heavy-duty use can cost around $25, while professional-grade outdoor insect foggers can cost $35 or more.
Q. Can I use an outdoor insect fogger inside my home?
A. Insect foggers formulated for outdoor use are generally too concentrated for indoor use, and indoor-rated foggers would not be effective outdoors. There are some foggers formulated for both indoor and outdoor use, but they may not perform as well. You should read the manufacturer's recommended use to be safe.
Q. I have two small children. Do I need to send them out of the house before I set off an insect fogger?
A. Children and pets definitely need to be protected from direct exposure to an active insect fogger. If the affected room is enclosed and properly sealed, however, your children can remain in another part of the house. They will need to avoid the area until the mist has dissipated and any residue has been removed.
Insect foggers we recommend
Best of the best: PT Alpine's Pressurized Fly Bait
Our take: This odorless, clear indoor/outdoor fogger works best as part of a larger flying insect extermination project. We like its long-lasting effects.
What we like: Endorsed by professional exterminators. Very effective on fruit flies and house flies. Continues to attract and kill fly colonies for up to 30 days.
What we dislike: Does not always provide instantaneous results, may need to be applied several times in heavily infested areas.
Best bang for your buck: Black Flag's Concentrated Fogger
Our take: For those seeking a powerful set-it-and-forget-it "bug bomb," this fogger from Black Flag does the trick without leaving a chemical scent behind.
What we like: Formula includes a pleasant fragrance. One can treats an entire room. Effective on a wide variety of flying and crawling insects.
What we dislike: Angled spray nozzle can spray product on user if not positioned correctly. Not as effective on roaches as it is on flying insects.
Choice 3: Spectracide's Bug Stop Indoor Fogger
Our take: We recommend using this Spectracide indoor fogger when an insect problem reaches the infestation stage. It works quickly and does not leave much residue.
What we like: Generous coverage zone per canister. Fogging session only takes two hours to complete. Fine mist penetrates flooring and upholstery without staining.
What we dislike: May require several applications for maximum results. Not as effective on fleas.
Michael Pollick is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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