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InsightsPest Control ServicesThe 411 on Foggings & Fumigations

The 411 on Foggings & Fumigations

Keith RobinsonDecember 10, 2019Read time: 5 min

If you manage your organization’s pest management contract, planning and budgeting for foggings and fumigations have likely been routine. You get these services done at the same time each and every year.

If that’s the case, you may be doing it wrong.

"Set it and forget it" is no longer fiscally responsible

The phrase, “Calendar-Based Treatments,” describes the program whereby pest control suppliers automatically fumigate or fog a facility during the summer holidays, whether or not it was needed.

These were perfect times to pre-schedule the services as the plant would be shut down for the holidays and the temperature and humidity levels would be in the optimal range for providing the best control over the target pest.

These events became somewhat of a safety net for the pest control operator over the years (on the customer’s dime!). If they didn’t have the time to complete a thorough inspection, they were confident that the fumigation would solve any issues that went unnoticed.

The customer viewed these annual treatments as a measure to control risk, and no one wanted to be the individual to end them for fear that something might happen on their watch.

Don’t get me wrong – you still need to have these options in your toolkit for when the situation calls for them, but much more scrutiny and data analysis should happen on the front end which should answer the question:

“Do we need to budget for this fumigation service because we’ve always done so?”

Quick definitions

  • A FOGGING is an aerosol, and most contain a pyrethroid-type compound. It’s applied using a thermal blower, a backpack, or a cart-mounted or vehicle-mounted delivery system. The nozzle pushes fine particles into the air, which fill the target area. You can think of this type of treatment as a canopy—it goes up into the air, and as it drops any insect or spiders that the particles touch will be affected by it. It offers good control of active adult populations of pests, but limited control on the eggs or any that are covered or protected from the canopy. What makes it safe to use is the fact that in most cases, it leaves little if any residue on surfaces. Once the area is cleared out and aerated, it is safe to return. One pitfall of this treatment is that there is no long-term control, so while you may have controlled the adult pest population, if you haven’t addressed the source of the infestation, the problem is likely to return.
  • A FUMIGATION is an actual gas that fills the interior space. It’s deployed directly from a cylinder or is activated from tablets or strips. The gas easily penetrates most materials, including packaging. Pests of any type (including rodents) will not survive the treatment if the appropriate amount of fumigate is used. It will also kill all life stages of the pests, even those living in wall voids or product. While it offers the greatest control, it is an extremely dangerous treatment and requires specific training for the applicator. As with a fogging treatment, once the area is cleared and aerated, it is safe to return and there is no residual. Although it addresses all life stages of pests, a fumigation still does not provide any protection from new infestations entering the facility. If your servicer failed to identify the source and trace where the infestation originated from, you’ll likely be doing another fumigation treatment on the next holiday.

While both treatments have their place and are necessary options, most of the pest management industry views them as a last resort.

In my years as an executive in the pest control industry, when necessary and only after all other reasonable control methods have been vetted would we consider foggings or fumigations.

Our position was to protect the resources of our client. Those resources could be in the form of product, inventory, or profit and the decision to escalate to fogging and or fumigation was always rooted in data as well as our knowledge of the insect species.

Organizations and suppliers alike need to partner on new and innovative ways on pest prevention while staying fiscally responsible.

Our job at Fine Tune is to provide you with all the data and to help your supplier build a control method that will address the issue, provide the best long-term control, while being good stewards of your bottom-line.


Keith Robinson

Keith Robinson

Keith joined Fine Tune in 2019 after spending nearly 30 years in the pest control industry. Previously, Keith worked 17 years at Terminix and built and sold his own PC company. Most recently, Keith served as VP of operations, training, quality assurance and food safety at ABC Home & Commercial Services. In that role, Keith led all commercial pest management operations in north Texas, east Texas and Oklahoma. A Board Certified Entomologist, he developed and rolled out food safety programs for national chain accounts across the United States. Today, Keith oversees Fine Tune’s pest control services offering nationwide.

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