What is the Difference Between Fumigation and Spraying

Pest control is important for protecting crops, buildings, and people’s health from damage caused by insects, rodents, and other pests. Fumigation and spraying are both pest control methods, but they work in different ways.

What is the difference between fumigation and spraying? Fumigation uses gases or fumigants that permeate an entire sealed structure to eliminate pests, whereas spraying applies liquid insecticides directly to surfaces or cracks where pests are likely to be.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Fumigation  
      – Definition, Features 
2. What is Spraying
      – Definition, Features 
3. Similarities Between Fumigation and Spraying
      – Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Fumigation and Spraying
      – Comparison of Key Differences
5. FAQ: Fumigation and Spraying
      – Frequently Asked Questions

Key Terms

Fumigation, Pesticide, Spraying

Difference  Between Fumigation and Spraying - Comparison Summary

What is Fumigation

Fumigation is a powerful pest control method that uses toxic gas to eliminate unwanted pests. Unlike sprays that target specific areas, fumigation fills an entire enclosed space. This makes it ideal for battling infestations that have burrowed deep within structures or are widespread throughout a building.

There are two main types of fumigation. They are structural fumigation and commodity fumigation. Structural fumigation tackles pests within buildings, typically targeting wood-destroying organisms like termites and bed bugs. This process involves sealing the structure with a giant tarp and pumping in gas to eliminate the pests. Commodity fumigation, on the other hand, focuses on protecting things like stored food grains or imported goods from pest infestations. Here, the fumigation might take place within a specialized container or chamber.


The gas used in fumigation can be harmful to humans and pets, so it should be done by professionals. Licensed fumigators ensure the safety of occupants by carefully sealing the area, applying the gas, and monitoring the process. After a designated time, they air out the space thoroughly before it’s safe to re-enter.

What is Spraying

Spraying involves applying a liquid mixture, often containing pesticides, to target areas where pests reside or frequent. This can be in homes, gardens, agricultural fields, or even on animals. There are two main types of sprays. They are contact pesticides and ingested pesticides.

Contact pesticides kill pests upon direct contact. They are often used for fast-acting control of crawling insects like cockroaches or ants. Ingested pesticides work by being eaten by the pest, poisoning them internally. This method is effective for insects that feed on treated surfaces, like mosquitoes or plant-damaging bugs.


While spraying can be effective, it’s important to consider its downsides. Pesticides can harm beneficial insects and pollinators like bees. They can also contaminate water sources and soil if not used properly. Additionally, overuse of pesticides can lead to pest resistance, making them less effective over time.

Hence, alternative methods are used instead of spraying on certain occasions. Some such methods are natural pest control methods and targeted spraying.

Similarities Between Fumigation and Spraying

  1. Fumigation and spraying aim to eradicate pests from a specific area.
  2. Both methods apply pesticides.

Difference Between Fumigation and Spraying


  • Fumigation is a pest control method that uses gas or vapor to eliminate insects, rodents, or other pests within an enclosed area, while spraying is a method of applying liquid pesticides or other substances to plants, crops, or surfaces to control pests or diseases.


  • Fumigation uses a gas (fumigant) to eliminate pests throughout a sealed structure, while spraying applies liquid insecticide directly onto surfaces or targeted areas where pests are active.


  • Fumigation requires evacuating the building and can be risky if not done properly, while spraying is generally less risky than fumigation, though some sprays can still be harmful if inhaled or ingested.

Time Taken

  • Fumigation can have a long re-entry time, sometimes lasting for a day or more, until the fumigant dissipates to safe levels. Spraying may only require a few hours for the spray to dry before re-entry is safe.


In conclusion, both fumigation and spraying are used for pest control but have different methods and impacts. Fumigation uses toxic gases to treat entire structures, making it effective for severe or widespread infestations, but it requires proper evacuation and carries risks if not done correctly. Spraying focuses on specific areas with liquid insecticides, allowing for quicker re-entry and lower risk, though it can have environmental effects and may lead to pest resistance over time.

FAQ: Fumigation and Spraying

1. What is used in spraying?

Spraying involves the use of liquid substances such as pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or fertilizers, which are applied directly to plants, crops, or surfaces. In spraying, the chemicals to be applied are dissolved or suspended in water or, less commonly, in an oil-based carrier. The mixture is then applied as a fine mist to plants, animals, soils or the areas to be treated.

2. What are the three types of fumigation according to the state?

The three types of fumigation are gas fumigation, solid fumigation and liquid fumigation.

  1. Gas fumigation uses gaseous compounds to eliminate pests in enclosed spaces.
  2. Solid fumigation uses solid fumigants that release gas when exposed to air or moisture.
  3. Liquid fumigation involves spraying or fogging liquid fumigants to treat larger areas.

3. Is fumigation a sterilization?

Fumigation is not the same as sterilization. Fumigation uses chemicals to eliminate pests such as insects, rodents, or fungi in a space. Sterilization goes further by completely eradicating all forms of life, including bacteria and viruses. However, formaldehyde fumigation is considered a method of sterilization for areas where microbiological cleanliness is required.

4. What is the difference between fumigation and pesticide?

Fumigation involves using gas or vapor to eliminate pests in enclosed spaces, providing deep penetration and control over a wide area. Pesticide, on the other hand, is a broad term that refers to chemical substances used to kill or manage pests, which can be applied as liquids, powders, or granules directly to plants, crops, or surfaces.


1. “Fumigation.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia Foundation.
2. “Spraying and Dusting.” Encyclopedia Britannica.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Fumigating Vila Shanti (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Spraying insecticide to crops” (CC0) via Picryl

About the Author: Hasini A

Hasini is a graduate of Applied Science with a strong background in forestry, environmental science, chemistry, and management science. She is an amateur photographer with a keen interest in exploring the wonders of nature and science.

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