You may have seen the signs, like little papery wings on the windowsill or bubbled areas appearing on your hardwood floor. Maybe you have woken up to find itchy, painful bedbug bites trailing down your leg.
You may have had success in the past with DIY pest control. But how do you know if your insect problem has grown to the point that fumigation is your best option?
There are several ways to tell that fumigation will do the best job of removing the pests wreaking havoc inside your home. If your home is more than ten years old and you notice multiple areas of insect infestation, then finding a fumigation service may be your best bet for eliminating the source of the problem. It is not always easy to tell if your insect problem has reached the point that fumigation is necessary. However, there are specific signs that point toward a stubborn bug infestation. Keep reading to learn about these signs.
What exactly is home fumigation?
First, it is important to understand exactly what home fumigation is. Structural fumigation is a tool used by pest control experts to kill damaging insects that are hard to get rid of by other methods. When you choose home fumigation, your entire house is covered with a tent. In some areas, fumigation is actually referred to as “tenting.” Once the structure is properly sealed off, an insecticide gas is released inside the tent. The gas is trapped inside the structure and is able to penetrate hard-to-reach insect colonies. This saturation is the reason fumigation is so successful at eliminating pests from both visible and hidden locations.
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Because the gases used in fumigation are toxic to humans, pets and plants, you must be prepared to evacuate your home for a few days. You must also remove all food from the home or seal it in protective bags provided by the pest control service. Your pest control technician will instruct you on how to prepare for fumigation. He or she will also notify you when it is safe to re-enter your home. Note that a separate treatment plan may be required for subterranean, or underground, termites and wood beetles.
Types of Insects that Often Require Fumigation
Fumigation is a type of pest control that is usually reserved for severe insect problems that fail to respond to less invasive treatments. Different climates deal with different types of insects, but there are several bugs that commonly cause fumigation requests. These damaging bugs include:
- Drywood termites: These invaders are the cause of most fumigation procedures in the United States. They often hitchhike into a home attached to a piece of furniture or clothing. They survive by consuming organic material, including wood, drywall, cloth and flooring. Termites can infest a home for months without ever being detected.
- Wood-boring beetles: Also called powderpost beetles, these insects live off wood and burrow deep into your home’s wooden infrastructure in their pursuit of food. Because they live so deeply inside wooden rafters, studs and beams, it is nearly impossible to get rid of them by any method other than fumigation.
- Bed bugs: Like drywood termites, bed bugs can enter your home on a piece of clothing or hidden inside used furniture. Hotels are notorious for sending bed bugs home inside their guests’ suitcases. Unlike termites, bed bugs thrive on blood meals and sleeping humans provide an easy food source. Bed bugs hide in warm crevices during the day and come out at night to feed, leaving their host with a row of itchy, red bites.
Signs You Need to Fumigate Your Home for Termites
Termites are notoriously sneaky creatures and can multiply inside a home for months without detection. After the colonies reach a certain size, they begin to make themselves known. Flying termites, or swarmers, may begin popping up inside your attic, garage or in certain rooms. You may see their tiny, papery wings scattered on windowsills or baseboards. This is because swarmers shed their wings before mating. After they mate, they settle back into your home to dine on more wood.
Since termites are nonstop eaters, they leave behind a lot of droppings. Each piece is about the size of a grain of sand but they collect into tiny piles resembling sawdust. Wood damaged by termites has a specific shredded or splintered appearance. Sections of a termite-eaten beam can be collapsed or even gone. Usually, by the time you can see termite damaged wood, they have moved on to other areas in your home.
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Termite damage can be visible on exterior wooden surfaces, such as window frames, posts and trim. If someone has attempted to paint over termite damage, then the wood underneath will look puckered, dented or bubbled. Seriously damaged wood crumbles easily by touch and may appear splintered or eroded.
Termites often leave behind mud tubes as they feed on drywall’s cellulose surface. You may also see mud tubes along your home’s concrete foundation. Termites do not eat concrete but they use these tubes to navigate to new sources of edible material. In addition, mud tubes may be visible on stone foundations and chimneys.
Signs You Need to Fumigate Your Home for Wood-Boring Beetles
These insects tend to infest hardwoods, such as ash, hickory, oak, mahogany and walnut. Wood-boring beetles choose them over softer woods because hardwoods have a higher nutritional content and the pores needed to lay their eggs. However, there is a tropical wood-boring beetle that is often imported into the U.S. in bamboo and other soft woods. Powderpost beetles get their name from the piles of waste their larvae leave behind. It is composed of both feces and wood fragments and has the consistency of baby powder or wheat flour.
Tiny, round exit holes are perhaps the most obvious signs of wood-boring beetle infestation. These are made by emerging adult beetles, who move on to other hardwood surfaces and find pores or cracks to lay their eggs and start the life cycle over again.
Signs You Need Fumigation to Remove Bed Bugs
Many types of bugs resemble bed bugs, but there are specific ways to tell if you have bed bugs. First, you must look in the most obvious place where bed bugs hide, such as in bed, around the seams and tags on the mattress and box springs. You may also see them in cracks on the headboard or bed frame. If the infestation is heavy, then you may also see them between sofa and chair cushions, in curtain folds and under loose wallpaper. They can also be found inside electrical outlets, in appliances and drawer joints.
In general, adult bed bugs are about the size and color of an apple seed. Younger bed bugs may appear light brown or yellowish in appearance. If the bed bug has fed recently, then it will be reddish in color and more balloon-like than flat. Bed bugs produce a musty, sweet odor and leave behind feces that look like large black pepper granules that bleed onto fabric like a marker. You may also see clear, whitish eggs and larvae. These immature bed bugs are between the size of a pinhead and a sesame seed.
Because bed bugs prefer to feed on humans, you may wake up to find that they have left behind rust-colored spots on your sheets and bites on your skin. Although you may not have an allergic response to bed bug bites, you can still have an infestation with or without noticeable bites on your skin. Bed bugs generally feed at night, but you may find them seeking a host during the daytime, particularly with a heavy infestation.
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