Fumigation 101

Fumigation is a method of pest control that completely fills an area with gaseous pesticides—or fumigants—to suffocate or poison the pests within. It is utilized for control of pests in buildings (structural fumigation), soil, grain, and produce, and is also used during processing of goods to be imported or exported to prevent transfer of exotic organisms. This method also affects the structure itself, affecting pests that inhabit the physical structure, such as woodborers and drywood termites.

Fumigation usually involves the following phases: First the area to be fumigated is usually covered to create a sealed environment; next the fumigant is released into the space to be fumigated; then, the space is held for a set period while the fumigant gas percolates through the space and acts on and kills any infestation in the product, next the space is ventilated so that the poisonous gases are allowed to escape from the space, and render it safe for humans to enter.

Treatment Options

Vikane
Fumigation with Vikane® gas fumigant is recommended when complete eradication of bed bugs is required.

Each bed bug infestation is unique and, therefore, requires a customized treatment plan. However, fumigation with Vikane® gas fumigant is the only treatment method that can reliably eradicate all bed bugs infesting a building, including the difficult-to-control egg stage. Once bed bugs are eliminated, it’s important to take steps to avoid reinfestation, as well as include regular professional inspections following the fumigation.

Recent research at the University of Kentucky and Virginia Tech has shown bed bugs have developed a resistance to some conventional treatments such as insecticides used in crack and crevice applications. Bed bugs currently show no resistance to Vikane when it is applied according to label directions by a pest management professional.

Label directions for Vikane give professionals the options needed to solve virtually every bed bug problem. Fumigation with Vikane can be conducted in one of the following ways:

  • Whole-structure: Vikane can eliminate bed bugs from an entire structure and its contents by having the building temporarily sealed to hold the fumigant inside long enough to eliminate the pests. Household “clutter” can make it difficult to conduct a conventional crack and crevice insecticide treatment, but it is not a problem when fumigating with Vikane® gas fumigant.
  • Compartmentalized: Infested sections of the building can be fumigated with Vikane, if they can be adequately sealed to confine the fumigant. This would still require the entire building to be vacated during the fumigation.
  • Containerized: Household goods can be fumigated with Vikane in a chamber, trailer, truck or storage pod. This eliminates the need to throw out or discard valuable items such as box springs, mattresses, linens and clothing.

Fumigation is the best option for treating bed bugs when:

  • Immediate eradication of bed bugs is required, such as in multiunit dwellings (hotels, apartments and dormitories), when occupants are highly allergic to bites or when there is zero tolerance for the infestation
  • Repeated crack and crevice applications (liquids, dust and aerosols) have failed
  • Other treatments may damage infested materials, such as high-value furnishings or custom mattresses

Without a fumigation, multiple methods of control can be attempted to eliminate bed bugs. These methods include:

  • Application of residual insecticides (liquids, dusts, aerosols) to all voids, cracks and crevices where bed bugs could hide; multiple treatments are the rule, not the exception, because it is very difficult to locate all the areas needed for treatment
    • Bed bugs can fit in a space the thickness of a business card
    • Infestations are often widely dispersed
    • Bed bugs may be inside televisions, stereos or other electronics that can’t be treated with insecticide
  • Laundering, including drying in a hot dryer, or dry cleaning all bedding, curtains and clothing that might be infested
  • Heat treatment of infested items or the building itself
    • Requires a great deal of expertise and preparation to avoid causing damage to the structure and its contents by overheating. In addition, heat does not distribute equally throughout the treated space the way Vikane does. As a result, the required lethal temperatures may not be obtained in all areas infested by bed bugs.

For more information on fumigating bed bugs with Vikane® gas fumigant, visit www.dowagro.com/ppm/vikane/bedbugs.htm.

Also, check out this well organized with lots of photos University of California – Riverside – “Structural Fumigation using Vikane gas fumigant” Web Presentation (Krieger @ UCAL)

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