How do we select a competent Pest Control Service? First of all, many of us as homeowners, renters, and landlords can control household pests through a combination of preventive measures, including proper sanitation and good home maintenance practices. However, some pest infestations may be extensive, or a particular pest may be difficult to control, requiring the services of a pest control company.
You should select a pest control company the way you do any other service - Look for Quality and Value. Costs and competency are important. When selecting a pest control service, cost should not be the only factor that determines the company you pick. It is important to make sure the pest control company you chooses competent. If pesticides are misused, both health and property can be damaged. Before contracting with a pest control company, consider the following:
- Take your time/Do your homework-
When most people discover a pest problem, they want the problem eliminated immediately. However, most problems can wait a few days so you have time to select a competent, reasonably priced company. It is wise to obtain several estimates from prospective companies. Most companies will provide free estimates.
- Questions to ask a prospective pest control firm-
- How many years have you been in business at your present address ?
Contact organizations such as the Better Business Bureau, the State=s Departments of Agriculture, or the State=s Attorney General=s Office, or the EPA to determine if complaints have been filed against the company or its applicators for misusing pesticides.
- Would you provide me with a list of references ?
Contact several references to find out if they are satisfied with service provided by the pest control company.
- Will the person(s) performing the services be a certified, licensed pesticide
applicator or a licensed technician ? Each company must have at least one certified, licensed commercial pesticide applicator in the proper service category. Other company applicators must be certified applicators or licensed technicians under the direct supervision of an certified applicator. Licenses may be verified by calling the various State Departments of Agriculture. (Telephone numbers for KS, MO, IA, and NE are listed at the end of this article).
- Would you provide me with a copy of your pest control license, copies of
labels for all pesticides used and the rates at which they will be applied ? Most reliable applicators will show you their credentials and provide you with copies of pesticide labels which indicate how the product should be applied, including the proper application rates, and the necessary precautions.
- Want to do pest control as part of a "package deal," such as general home repair or tree trimming or that will give you a special price if treatment is done immediately.
- Don't have a listed or working telephone number. Sell services door-to-door or target the elderly or infirm persons who live alone. CHECK THEIR IDENTIFICATION AND CREDENTIALS !!!
- Arrive unexpectedly and show you insects they have found in your neighbor's house as evidence of a neighborhood problem.
- Quote a per-gallon price. Termite control can require several hundred gallons of diluted insecticide.
- Claim to have a Asecret@ formula. All pesticide products must be registered by the U.S. EPA and the State's Departments of Agriculture. Registered pesticide labels contain a list of active ingredients.
- Try to pressure you into immediately signing a contract by suggesting your house is structurally unsound and may collapse if not treated.
- Claim to have excess material left over from a previous job and offer a reduced price for immediate treatment.
- Claim to be endorsed by the State=s Departments of Agriculture, the U.S. EPA or other government agency. Government agencies DO NOT endorse any service company or specific pesticide product.
*** BEWARE OF COMPANIES OR INDIVIDUALS THAT.......
Some pest control companies offer service contracts in which structures are routinely treated for a particular pest. Contracts may be necessary in some situations such as warehouses that receive crates often infested with cockroaches. In general, routine pesticide applications in and around your home are not good unless there is a constant infestation by a pest and non-chemical methods have failed to control the pest. Service contracts for the homeowner should include periodic inspections, but pesticides should not be applied unless the pests are actually present and cannot be controlled by other means.
Generally, it is customary for termite control work to be guaranteed from one to five years. Make sure you know what the guarantee covers and determine if there is a yearly inspection charge. In addition, find out if the pest control company is responsible for structural damage if the treatment fails to control the termite infestation. The guarantee is only as reliable as the company that offers it.
If the service person asks you to do certain things before, during or after the pesticide application, cooperate and follow instructions. For example, if the service person asks you to remove personal items from the floor, empty kitchen cabinets and remove pets, make sure you have done this before they arrive. Do not allow children or pets into treated areas until the pesticide spray has dried. Aquariums should be removed from the treatment site or covered with heavy plastic and the air pump turned off. Remove all other household pets from the treatment area.
If the service person suggests non-chemical methods of pest control in addition to the pesticides, be sure to follow the instructions.
Good cooperation between you and the pest control company will help eliminate pests and reduce pesticide use.
Pesticides are inherently toxic and may cause health problems and/or damage to the environment if used in a manner inconsistent with the label directions. Certain pesticides may pose greater risks than others. To determine the pesticide that best fits your needs, contact your local University Extension Service.
For more information, please contact:
National Pesticide Telecommunications Network 1-800 858-7378
Kansas Department of Agriculture
Division of Plant Health
901 S. Kansas Ave., 7th Floor
Topeka, Kansas 66612
Telephone (785) 296-3786
Missouri Department of Agriculture
Plant Industries Division
Bureau of Pesticide Control
P.O. Box 630
Jefferson City, Missouri 65102
Telephone (573) 751-5509
Iowa Department of Agriculture
and Land Stewardship
Henry A. Wallace Building
900 East Grand
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
Telephone (515) 281-8591
Nebraska Department of Agriculture
Plant Industry Division
P.O. Box 94756
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509
Telephone (402) 471-6892
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICES
Pesticide Safety & Integrated Pest Management Coordinator
Kansas State University
Department of Entomology
123 W. Waters Hall
Manhattan, Kansas 66506-4004
Wayne Bailey, Ph.D.
Pest Management Dept.
University of Missouri
Department of Agronomy
214 Waters Hall
Columbia, Missouri 65211
Kristine J. P. Schaefer
Pest Management and the Environment
Iowa State University
109 Insectary Building
Ames, Iowa 50011
Clyde Ogg, Pesticide Education Specialist
Cooperative Extension Service
University of Nebraska - Lincoln/IANR
Natural Resources Hall
Lincoln, Nebraska 68583
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
11201 Renner Boulevard
Lenexa, Kansas 66219
Telephone (913) 551-7033
EPA Technical Assistance:
Kansas – Heather Duncan - (913) 551-7640
Missouri – Doug Jones - (913) 551-7592
Iowa – Katie Howard - (913) 551-7861
Nebraska – Dick Wiechman - (402) 437-5080
Information in this article was adopted from Missouri Department of Agriculture and
Illinois Department of Public Health publications.