Sulfuryl fluoride is the primary termite gas fumigant used to control drywood termite colonies in the United States. Regulators have stopped using the fumigant methyl bromide for structural fumigation due to its contributions to ozone depletion.
Common Brand Names for Sulfuryl Fluoride
The three most common brands of fumigant approved for residential termite control in the U.S. include:
- Dow AgroSciences has sold sulfuryl fluoride under the brand name Vikane® since 1961.
- Ensystex II began selling sulfuryl fluoride under the brand name Zythor in 2005.
- Target began selling Master Fume® in 2009.
Dow AgroSciences also sells ProFume®, a sulfuryl fluoride fumigant approved for use in food commodities, mills and food processing facilities.
Fumigants provide effective control for termites that are entrenched in areas of the house that cannot be reached by liquid treatments or more localized treatments. Fumigant gases disperse evenly throughout a house and penetrate wood structures to reach the crevices where termites build their nests.
After a termite inhales sulfuryl fluoride, the gas breaks down to form fluoride and sulfate. Fluoride disrupts the termite’s metabolism and causes its death. However, it may take a few days for all of the insects to die. Do not be alarmed if you see living termites up to three days after fumigation.
As a termite fumigant, sulfuryl fluoride has many benefits:
- It penetrates walls well to reach termites.
- It aerates quickly, meaning it leaves your home rapidly once the fumigation tent is removed.
- It does not damage electronics.
- It is nonflammable.
- It does not leave residue on household items. Sulfuryl fluoride dissipates completely into the air.
Sulfuryl fluoride has a few drawbacks:
- At very high temperatures, it decomposes to form a corrosive acid. Your termite expert should make sure all heat sources are turned off before fumigation.
- Sulfuryl fluoride is colorless and odorless, which means it should only be used by certified experts trained in fumigant application. While your professional will inspect the home to make sure no one is inside, he or she also likely will use chloropicrin (a tear gas) as a warning agent to double check that the treatment area is cleared of all people and pets before the treatment begins.