By Ellen Thoms, Ph.D.
Technical Expert, Dow AgroSciences
Fumigation with a fumigant, such as Vikane® gas fumigant, is considered by experts to be the most reliable treatment for eradication of bed bug infestations. The reason is the physical properties of sulfuryl fluoride, the active ingredient of Vikane. Dr. Thomas Phillips, a fumigation expert at Kansas State University, states, “Gasses penetrate all areas of a structure. If fumigation with sulfuryl fluoride is properly done, it can be the most effective method to control bed bugs available to the pest management professional.” In addition, complete pest eradication can be documented through monitoring of the fumigant during a fumigation.
Phillips and Dr. Changlu Wang, a well-known bed bug researcher at Rutgers University, collaborated with Drs. Ellen Thoms and Joe DeMark at Dow AgroSciences to re-evaluate the dosage of Vikane required for control of bed bugs. Their extensive laboratory research, which tested more than 4,400 eggs and 600 adults and nymphs of bed bugs, verified that a 1.9X dosage factor of Vikane controlled all life stages of bed bugs. Prior to this research, a 3X dosage factor was required on the label for Vikane for control of bed bugs. The 3X dosage factor was based on limited laboratory trials conducted more than 50 years ago, when bed bugs had become a rare household pest in North America.
This new research was reviewed by scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, resulting in a change in the labeling for Vikane® gas fumigant to reduce the dosage factor required for bed bug control to 1.9X. This research was recently published in the Journal of Economic Entomology, one of the leading scientific journals of the Entomological Society of America. A summary of this research is available in the Dow AgroSciences Technical Bulletin (Literature no.: U47-069-004). This research has refocused the pest control industry on the advantages offered by Vikane for bed bug control. These advantages include reliable elimination of all life stages of bed bugs with no adverse effects of the gas on electronics, fabrics, toys, furnishings and other items.
Fumigators using Vikane began to receive cylinders with the new labeling for the 1.9X dosage factor in 2014. The reduction in dosage factor can reduce the cost of Vikane for fumigation of bed bugs. The new labeling also permits a wider range of mattresses with waterproof coverings to be fumigated by stating, “Mattresses and pillows with waterproof coverings containing built-in vents designed to permit air passage are considered to have an open seal to the waterproof covering and can remain as-is in the fumigated space.”
Dow AgroSciences also updated its “Facts About Bed Bugs” and packing checklist “How to Leave the Bed Bugs Behind,” (Literature no.: U01-069-155). The packing checklist describes procedures for residents to follow to avoid taking bed bugs with them when they leave their home to have it fumigated. The updates are based on the most recent research on bed bug biology and behavior, and fumigators’ experiences with preparing residents to have their homes fumigated with Vikane.
The updates in the packing checklist include:
- Fumigating personal mobility devices, such as wheelchairs, walkers, baby strollers, child car seats and cars, which can be infested with bed bugs
- An expanded list of pet items, including fabric toys, clothing, and retractable leashes, which could contain bed bugs
- Revised directions for washing and drying fabric items (such as clothes, toys, pet bedding, etc.) needed by residents when they temporarily leave their home
- Revised directions for preparation of pillows and mattresses
Dow AgroSciences continues to actively support and expand the use of Vikane® gas fumigant for medically important pests such as bed bugs. Please contact your distributor or Dow AgroSciences representative for Vikane to obtain the literature described above.
®Trademark of The Dow Chemical Company (“Dow”) or an affiliated company of Dow. Vikane is a federally Restricted Use Pesticide. Always read and follow label directions.