Fumigation is one of the methods used to treat bed bugs among other destructive insects like termites and ants. Read on to find out what it is, its effectiveness, the chemicals used in the process, the duration it takes preparation and cost.
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What is Fumigation for Bed Bugs?
Fumigation is a traditional and highly specialized process involves the release of an insecticide in form of a fume into an entirely sealed structure. Within the structure are the items suspected to have bed bugs.
You can carry out this process on particular items or a whole building/apartment. Some companies use a moving track or a fume cube.
The sealing is usually done with a tarp- a tent-like large sheet of strong, flexible material that will not let air escape.
In the enclosed structure, the fumigant replaces the oxygen while penetrating through the bed-bug-infested items causing bed bugs and their eggs to suffocate and die.
After a specified period of time the pesticidal gas is then released to the atmosphere, and the tarps removed. As soon as the fumigant concentration falls below detectable levels, the structure (if it a building or apartment) can then be reoccupied.
It works well if the fumigant is at the right concentration for the right amount of time.
What chemicals are used?
This is a pest control method that works not only for bed bugs but also other destructive insects such as termites. What this implies is that the chemical will depend on pest to be treated. It is important to note that some chemicals can be used for multiple pests.
Sulfuryl fluoride, an inorganic compound with the formula SO2F2, is one of the most popular chemical used for bed bug fumigation.
It is an easily condensed gas and it cannot be broken down by addition of water even up to 150 °C.
It is also known to be neurotoxic (destructive to nerve tissue) and this mainly why fumigation processes are offered by specially licensed professional applicators.
How Effective is it? Does fumigation kill bed bugs
of According to Jeff White from the Bed Bug Central TV, fumigation is more effective when compared to bed bug bombing.
When done correctly with sufficient concentration of the fumigant this method has shown some good results.
It also seems practical when you’re moving from an infested place to a new home. As mentioned earlier, using special tracks designed for this purpose can fumigate your items while moving to the new home.
However, its effectiveness can be challenged because;
It is costly especially if the structure is too large.
It has no residual benefits
How long does it take to fumigate bed bugs?
For you to know how long it will take you to have a particular structure fumigated, you have to determine its size. The treatment time ranges from some hours to a longer period. It could be 18 to 48 hours total treatment time.
How long after fumigation do bed bugs die?
As mentioned earlier, if the fumigant is in the right concentration and infused for the correct amount of time, it should kill the bugs within that set time.
Insecticides usually take half an hour to two hours to kill bed bugs. There are chances that not all the bed bugs will die especially if it is for the first time.
Bed Bug Fumigation Cost
The process takes place in three phases; inspection, preparation and treatment. All these stages have their cost implications. Overall, the process could be very costly.
In case you don’t prepare, the treatment may not achieve much success.
The moment you have identified the signs and symptoms of bed bugs infestation, immediate action should be instituted because they spread quickly.
The cost varies from one place to another and from one fumigation specialist to another. There are different fumigation companies that offer bed bug fumigation services.
The inspection process for the bed bugs would cost about $50 to $500 based on the fumigation specialist that you choose. There are companies that would waiver these costs.
The cost of real extermination through fumigation is about $ 250 to $1000, depending on variables like the size of the room, how severe the infestation is and the techniques used in the extermination.
For you therefore to treat your entire house, then you could spend about $ 5000 to $ 10000.
You may need to have follow up activities by the professional just to ensure the bed bugs are gone for good. Repeat treatments could be necessary if the bed bugs come back after some time.
In the event that the cost of fumigation is too high, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could be a rescue for you. This is because it offers a DIY strategy for just as little as $20. This method is also popular because it is a non-toxic method.
What will determine the cost?
Several variables dictate the cost of the fumigation process of the bed bugs. For instance, if you employ a fumigation specialist, then you will have to invest more money into this. It is different from when you are doing it at your home on your own.
The capacity of the structure you want fumigation done also matters. If you are doing the fumigation in a bigger room, then you will be expected to use more money than a smaller room.
The frequency of the fumigation also matters. There are times when you will have to follow up a fumigation process one after the other. This is especially when the bed bug infestation comes after some time. In this scenario, then you will part with some extra amount of money.
Interestingly, different countries have varied costs for the fumigation. The expenses depend on the availability of the fumigation apparatus and specialists to do that.
It also depends on whether or not the company will carry out the inspection before extermination as it is an extra cost.
Process & Preparation
Following is the steps that followed during a bed bug fumigation process including preparation and safety precautions
Release of the fumigant
Ventilation of the structure
How to prepare & Safety
According to the American Pest blog post on their fact sheet, after the completion of the first treatment, you should leave your home for a minimum of about four hours.
This time is necessary for the materials that have been used to dry completely. You should then resume your residence after the four hours. It is thereafter fine for you to carry on with your normal activities.
So as to hinder future repetition of the same process, it is important that you make a follow up treatment after about 3 weeks from the initial treatment. 
Following are more preparation and safety ideas which will help during bed fumigation process.
Before the beginning, ensure that you remove all the bedding and then gather all your linens away from the scene of fumigation. All the textile within the room should be taken out and then washed and dry cleaned.
Ensure that you wash any other cloth that has come into contact with bed bugs using hot water and put it in the dryer if possible.
Avoid Mixing Items
Put away any boxes, suitcases, bags, musical instruments cases, back packs or any other instruments and items obtained from the room in which fumigation has taken place, especially the night of the fumigation service.
Pack the items in a light colored or a clear plastic bag which have not been stored in the areas that are infested with bed bugs.
You should not fumigate any living organism that needs oxygen for its survival, especially the plants and small animals.
Remove all the medicines from the scenes of fumigation, especially if they are over the counter medications. Inspect all the prescription medications that are distributed in airtight containers and then remove them from the vicinity if the fumigation.
This is a precaution will help avoid contamination. You can fumigate all topical toiletries but avoid doing so on others like the toothpaste and mouthwash. Instead, remove them from the scene.
Fumigate all the items that are open and digestible. After that, discard them to ensure that bed bugs do not spread by tossing out the items. These items include products in the freezer, refrigerator and the pantry.
You cannot place your baby’s mattresses or plastic encased mattresses back in the house immediately after the process. It is even advisable that you remove the encasement, fumigate the mattress and then return it afterwards.
You should also include your pet cages and bedding in your list of fumigation items. The pet cages could contain some gaps that are harborages for the bed bugs.
You should remove pet food in this case. Transfer your pet to a new place or put it in a bed bug free area before the fumigation activity. Only return the pet bedding after ensuring that it is free of any bed bugs.
Use cardboard boxes when packing and preparing for the fumigation. You should avoid as much as possible use of plastic materials because it is impossible for the fumigant to penetrate the plastic or glass.
Acquire about 20% as air space in the process of loading the container to be used in fumigation. This is an effort to ensure that there is even fumigant circulation.
Lastly, ensure that you have a pest control operator and then apply an intense and residual application before moving back in.
The fumigant is able to kill all the bed bugs at any stage in your stored items. As mentioned earlier, one of the challenges is that it does not have a residual effect thus there is no surety of permanent bed bug control.
The continuous protection is also not assured on the items and your house. You are bound to have a future infestation. The pest control operator is able to treat the target area and then have a residual application for long.