Winter Fumigation

12/2021 Issue: Winter Fumigations with ProFume®

By:  Jeff Waggoner, ACE


The onset of winter brings many changes. We humans alter our behavior as we acclimate to colder temperatures. We put away the short pants and tank tops and reach for the sweaters and long johns. We argue over the temperature setting on the thermostat. Please don’t touch mine! And we switch from iced coffee to hot.

Winter is quite a challenge for life of all sizes. Pests work hard to survive winter also. Learn how by reading our other article, “Where do they go” in this newsletter. Exterior insect pressure subsides when it is cold outside but what happens inside? What happens when we turn up the heat? Insects can continue to propagate and cause problems. Heaters and equipment radiate heat in different areas that may cause activity in areas that previously were not of concern. Often, these are unmonitored areas and not routinely inspected. Rodents are seeking warmer harborage areas with resources. That’s right, your food plant or your distribution warehouse!

Hopefully you have a DynamicIPM® program and if an issue arises you are alerted quickly. But what is you bring in a problem? How can we resolve it in the dead of winter without fumigation? I have good news! Fumigations can still take place in winter. In fact, we conducted dozens of them over Thanksgiving with a few more slated for December and January.

What issues are there with cold weather fumigation? Well, winter fumigation definitely takes more preparation and planning. If you are targeting insects, then you will need to allow for heating. How much depends on your desired level of control. You may have to rely on supplemental heat if you do not have the capacity to heat your facility. Optimal control of all life stages of insects for ProFume® is 86°F. The data shows warm weather applications yield better egg control (<50% egg mortality below 75°F). With slowed egg development during winter, this application will buy you precious time. It also beats facing a recall, escalating product losses, brand damage and rising customer complaints. A winter fumigation can be done successfully but your ProFume® dosage rates will vary. Higher dosages equate to higher costs but better control. At what point is it too cold to fumigate for insects? It depends on your unique situation, but I encourage you to have a discussion with your fumigator to determine the proper course to take and how to avoid a failure.

Performing a winter fumigation for rodents is more straightforward. Since rodent respiration does not slow with temperature fluctuations like insects, the dosage rate remains constant regardless of temperature. Fun Fact:  An increase of 10°C in temperature quadruples an insect’s respiration rate. You can see why at higher temperatures it takes less fumigant. Aside from some of the sealing challenges associated with cold weather there are no additional heating requirements. This makes fumigating for rodents a very affordable option for companies experiencing rodent damage that cannot be managed by traditional pest management methods.

For some, insects will be the problem but for others rodents will be their issue. Insect rate applications will also control rodents, but rodent rate fumigations will not control insects. Start with the pest first and figure it out from there. Until next time, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!  Please stay safe and warm!