If you've found drywood termites in your home, and all other treatments have failed, you may want to look into having your home fumigated. Although Terminix does not perform fumigations, we do work with subcontractors that are knowledgeable about fumigation best practices, if your home is in need of such a service.


Terminix® also offers an exclusive Drywood Defend System™ designed to kill drywood termites and help to prevent future infestations.

Terminix's comprehensive Drywood Defend System involves treatment of the interior of your home — including the attic, roof decking, insulation and other areas where drywood termites typically congregate. It also involves treatment of exterior entry points, such as weep holes, cracks, and openings around windows, walls, and doors where termites may enter.

The final component of the Drywood Defend System involves inspection and treatment of areas around your home to help build a better barrier of protection against future termite invasions. As part of this exclusive plan, Terminix termite professionals will continue to monitor your home to inspect, treat, and bolster protective barriers against these pests.

While the Drywood Defend System is an effective way to "prevent the tent" typically associated with older and more traditional methods of fumigation, in some severe infestations, fumigation may still be required. If fumigation is an option for you, here's everything you need to prepare for termite fumigation.Beautiful young woman packing her stuff into a big suitcase. Traveling preparation concept.

What Is fumigation?

Fumigation is the process used by pest and termite control professionals in which a gas fumigant is released into an enclosed area to target and eliminate insects. While fumigation could be used to treat a building for many types of pests, this treatment is most commonly used against drywood termites, which can embed themselves in furniture or hide in hard-to-access areas like beams, walls or underneath floorboards. When a structure is fumigated, the gas reaches every area and deeply penetrates the wood structures where termites live and feed. The fumigant used is a true gas, like oxygen or helium, and once the home is completely aerated, it leaves behind no residue.

For certain types of infestations where the infestation is deep within the structure, fumigation may be an option to treat your home. The fumigant is not only toxic to termites, it can cause serious harm to people, pets and plants if proper precautions and preparations are not taken.

Does fumigation always require tenting?

Fumigation usually requires tenting, which is when specialized tarps or a tent encase your entire home exterior. Tenting keeps the fumigant contained in the house until the fumigation process is complete. Because your home is tented, the fumigant can reach cracks and crevices between walls and floors where termites reside.

Is whole-structure fumigation needed?

Whole-structure fumigation is usually recommended to treat hidden and widespread termite infestations throughout an entire house or building. Regardless of where the infestation is in the home, the entire structure must be sealed in order to contain the gas.

How to prepare for termite tenting and fumigation:

While fumigants ultimately dissipate and won't leave a residue, it's still important to take every necessary precaution when preparing your home for fumigation. To stay safe, talk to your fumigator and take the following steps:

Make sure you have somewhere to stay

You and your family will not be able to re-enter the house once fumigation starts, so arrange for a place to stay. Talk to the fumigator ahead of time to be sure the schedule of events is clear to everyone. Pets, including fish, will also need to be out of the house, as well as any house plants. No one can enter the home for any reason until the fumigator has released it for re-entry.

Remove the following items from your home:

People, pets and plants

Fumigants can be toxic to pets, fish, reptiles and house plants, so these must be removed from the house during fumigation.

Food, animal feed, drugs and medications

It's best to remove all opened food items and consumables, including medication, pet food and dental products. Products in unopened bottles, jars or cans with the original seal intact do not need to be removed. If you will be leaving any opened food or products (such as refrigerated or frozen items) during fumigation, double bag them using bags designed specifically for this purpose. Your fumigator will provide you with bags and help you make sure all items are properly contained.

Fish tanks containing live fish

The fumigant can affect the entire aquarium environment and the living organisms within it, so experts recommend removing the fish and other living organisms prior to fumigation. Be sure to follow the fumigator's instructions before bringing fish back into the home. You may also want to consult with your aquarium supplier for additional advice on safely moving your aquarium.

Open all doors between rooms

Open all doors between rooms and all doors to cabinets, closets, appliances, safes, the attic and the basement. Open drawers in all cabinets, dressers and desks. Raise all the blinds and open drapes on your windows, so your fumigator can easily open windows.

Rake back gravel or mulch at least a foot from your foundation

Expose your exterior foundation by raking back gravel or mulch and moving plants (digging them up, if necessary) to provide room for the tenting.

Remove or lower antennae, weathervanes, chimney stacks or mechanical awnings

All exterior devices must be removed, lowered or retracted to allow for effective tenting.

Clear access to any closets, storage rooms and crawl spaces

For fumigation to be effective, the fumigant needs to penetrate every part of your home. Providing clear access to closets, storage rooms and crawl spaces will allow the fumigant to get into these hard-to-reach parts of your home.

Turn off heat sources and unplug appliances

Some fumigant materials may have a corrosive or other reaction in the presence of a heat source. If your home has natural gas service, it must be turned off and locked out at the meter by your gas company to prevent a dangerous natural gas buildup in the tarped structure in the event of a leak in the gas service lines. Your fumigator may direct you to unplug and turn off all heat sources, such as appliances, computers and heaters. You will also be required to extinguish all pilot lights and have gas service suspended during the fumigation.

Leave keys for your fumigator

Your fumigator will need access to every part of the house and will lock up when finished. The fumigator will also use a secondary locking system on all doors to prevent entry by anyone during the fumigation.

Stay away until the job is done

No person should enter the home for any reason until it has been cleared and released for re-entry by the fumigator. Check with your fumigator for detailed instructions on returning to your home once the process is complete, to ensure the transition is easy and safe.

For more information on preparing for fumigation, download this guide.