Tips for Selecting a Pest Control Service
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 choose is 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 States Departments of Agriculture, or the States 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 the 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.
Would you provide me with a copy of your pest control license, copies of the labels for all pesticides used and the rates at which they will be applied?
Reliable applicators will show you their credentials and will be able to provide you with copies of pesticide labels that indicate how the product should be applied, including the proper application rates, and the necessary precautions.
BEWARE OF COMPANIES OR INDIVIDUALS THAT.......
- 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 neighbors 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 secret formula. All pesticide products must be registered by the U.S. EPA and the States 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 States Departments of Agriculture, the U.S. EPA or other government agency. Government agencies DO NOT endorse any service company or specific pesticide product.
More Points to Consider
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
- National Pesticide Information Center (800) 858-7378
- Your state pest control regulatory agency
- Cooperative Extension Service office near you
- Citizen’s Guide Pest Control and Pesticide Safety
- Fact sheet -- Choosing a Pest Control Company: What you need to know
Information in this article was adapted from Missouri Department of Agriculture and Illinois Department of Public Health publications.