Why do houses in the US need to be fumigated and what happens during this process?

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I’m Irish, and have never seen this happen in any other country and have no clue what it is

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This is not a regular thing. It is something people can do if they need it, and it’s used to deal with some sort of pest infestation that cannot be resolved through other means.

And the US isn’t special. Houses in Ireland can be fumigated if needed, too:

[https://www.rentokil.ie/technical-expertise/fumigation/](https://www.rentokil.ie/technical-expertise/fumigation/)

Basically, it’s a last line of defence against insect/pest infestations. One reason this is more common in the US is that there are many more detached houses, which, being on ground level, tend to have more bugs than a flat on the 3rd or 4th floor might simply because bugs tend to live near the ground where it is moist.

Another reason you don’t see this more often in places like Europe or Asia is that these places tend to have more multi-family apartment buildings and you can’t exactly fumigate one flat while the neighbours are still in their flat.

As to how the process works, its basically putting a giant plastic bag over the house and blowing poison inside until everything dies…

Also be aware that it’s not nearly as common in reality as it’s portrayed in US media. The reason it’s so prevalent as a plot point is that it’s damn handy for plot progression and visual gags. Sort of like quicksand in 80s cartoons.

Not something you see often. Fumes get into cracks and crevices that powders, liquids and other toxins can’t. Fumigation is a last ditch effort to fix a pest problem. Not something you see often. The pros to fumigation is you don’t have to damage the building, the cons are it’s expensive, and a pretty big hassle. Bed bugs, roaches are normally the pests involved, as they’re notoriously difficult to get rid of once they show up. I could be wrong, but lots of the older buildings in Europe are a brick and mortar style, while American buildings tend to be wood primarily. It makes sense a wood structure would be more susceptible to a nasty pest invasion than a brick and mortar one, since brick doesn’t swell in heat and humidity like wood does opening up gaps and cracks and whatnot for the pests. Plus these pests can chew through wood much easier once they’ve got a foothold.

Termites mostly. I think that was what was going on with the tented houses in the New Mexico/Arizona area in Breaking Bad. They’ll eat your house, turn wood into dust.

They’re not in Ireland or the UK, yet. There was an infestation in Devon, caused by eggs in potted plants imported from the Canary Islands, but that has recently been confirmed as having been eradicated.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/dec/21/a-world-first-devon-calls-victory-in-27-year-war-on-termites