How Does Bed Bug Fumigation Work?

Vikane gas fumigation is one of the most effective and reliable ways to eliminate bed bugs in moderate-to-severe infestations.

Gas easily penetrates into narrow and cluttered spaces where bed bugs like to hide, ensuring that 100% of bed bugs at all life stages are thoroughly exterminated.

What is Vikane Gas?

Vikane is the trade name for sulfuryl fluoride, a colorless, odorless, non-flammable, and non-corrosive gas fumigant developed in the 1960s by Dow AgroSciences.

It’s classified by the EPA as a “Restricted Use Pesticide,” meaning that it can only be purchased and used by certified applicators. 

Originally, Vikane was used as a primary means of drywood termite control. In 2013, the EPA approved the use of Vikane against bed bugs at lower dosages. 

Does Fumigation Kill Bed Bugs?

Studies have shown that fumigation with Vikane gas is 100% effective against all life stages of bed bugs. It works by replacing oxygen within an enclosed space, causing bed bugs and their eggs to suffocate.

In addition, when the gas comes into contact with bed bugs, it breaks down into fluoride and sulfate inside their bodies. There, fluoride acts as a toxin to insects by interfering with their metabolism and eventually causing death. 

There are two types of Vikane gas fumigation for bed bugs: structural fumigation and containerized fumigation.

1. Structural Fumigation

Structural fumigation is used to treat entire houses or buildings. Vikane gas is pumped into the sealed structure, saturating the space and penetrating deep into the smallest cracks and crevices where bed bugs like to hide.

This requires the premises to be evacuated for the duration of the treatment, which usually ranges from 18–48 hours depending on the size of the structure and the extent of the bed bug infestation.

2. Containerized Fumigation

Containerized fumigation is used to treat items, clothing, and furniture. These items are moved from an infested area into a vehicle or cargo container for fumigation. 

This type of fumigation is usually done in conjunction with other types of bed bug treatment. It can be used to treat items and valuables that might otherwise be thrown out. 

Compared to structural fumigation, containerized fumigation doesn’t take nearly as long. The entire process usually only takes several hours and can be done overnight. 

The Bed Bug Fumigation Process

The fumigation process starts with tightly sealing the structure or container in question. This can either be done through tenting or taping. 

Vikane gas is then pumped into the sealed area, where it kills the bed bugs inside. 

Because the gas is odorless and colorless, it is applied together with a warning agent, chloropicrin. The warning agent has a strong odor and dissipates more slowly than Vikane. It’s there as an additional safety measure to deter unauthorized entry and ensure that the structure is completely aired out.

Once treatment is complete and the structure or container is unsealed and aerated, the Vikane gas rapidly dissipates harmlessly into the air. The licensed applicator will then test the air using specialized equipment before clearing the structure for re-entry.

For a closer look, check out the video below describing what bed bug fumigation is and the benefits of the tape-and-seal and tenting methods.

Advantages of Bed Bug Fumigation

Vikane gas fumigation can be used to treat moderate to heavy infestations in which bed bugs have spread to multiple rooms. It’s safe for electronics, furniture, fabrics, and other household items.

The main advantage of this type of treatment is how well the fumigant penetrates into all spaces of a home.

Bed bugs tend to harbor in narrow spaces as thin as a credit card, helping them stay out of reach from regular contact sprays. Vikane gas, however, can easily penetrate into these cracks and crevices to eliminate these hideaways. 

Another advantage of fumigation is that it doesn’t require as much preparation as other types of treatment, particularly when it comes to decluttering and removing belongings from the infested area. 

Fumigation vs. Heat Treatment

When deciding between fumigation versus thermal (heat) treatments, which are also used to exterminate bed bugs in multiple rooms or entire structures, there are several factors to consider.

  • Both methods are effective at killing all life stages of bed bugs, including eggs.
  • Fumigation is usually the more cost-effective choice, but it requires a longer evacuation period.
  • Heat treatments only take a few hours and are considered to be more environmentally-friendly.

Need Help Getting Rid of Bed Bugs in New York?

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With over 25 years of experience as New York City’s leading bed bug experts, we’ll help you get rid of bed bugs for good, guaranteed.

Contact us today to learn more about our bed bug solutions for New Yorkers.