Ants and rodents and termites, oh my! The list of pests invading your home and disturbing your peace is long. You know you need the help of a professional, but who should you hire? What should you know before you hire a pest control service? Choosing a pest control company doesn’t have to be stressful. This article will highlight some key things to look for in an exterminator.

Do they offer thorough inspections and customized plans?

Pest control is not a “one-size fits all” industry. Completing a thorough inspection is absolutely vital to creating a tailor made plan for your specific, unique pest situation. After doing a detailed inspection, the pest professional should provide you with a plan of action that meets the needs of your situation. This plan of action should include the following:

  • The pests that need to be controlled.
  • How extensive the problem is.

Pesticides to be used and information about them.

This would be a good time to ask them for a Material Safety data sheet also called and MSDS sheet.  Also, ask for information about the toxicity and the signal words about the products.  This is important to understand and know if the risk is low or high for this product.  For more information on the signal words placed on products, the National Pesticide Information Center has published an article on them.  Click for more info

How they will apply these products to keep you and your family safe. And reduce the possibility of unnecessary exposure to them.
What are the non-chemical procedures that can be done to help eliminate the pest infestation, and who will do them? The homeowner or the pest control professional.

Special instructions to reduce the possibility of exposure to the pesticides as they are applied and to keep you safe from slipping on wet floors. Examples of instructions may be vacating the house, emptying the cupboards, and removing pets.

Cost is not the only factor you should consider.

Cost should not be the only factor you use to choose a pest control service.  The pest professional you choose must have training in safe, practical, and effective pest management.  They must know the laws for applying pesticides, how to follow the safety labels of those pesticides and how to apply those products safely to minimize exposure to pets, children, and seniors.  It is very important to look for a qualified and licensed pest control professional. When hiring a pest control professional, you are receiving the benefits of their training and knowledge to apply pesticides in a manner that minimizes unnecessary exposure and yet is effective in controlling or eliminating a pest infestation.  Belonging to a national, state, or local pest management association shows they care about the industry and providing a quality service.

Does the company guarantee or warranty its work?

Often a company will not guarantee pests will not return. However, they will come back and retreat after a waiting period.  Be sure and understand what guarantee or warranty they have and what you must do to keep it in force and how long it lasts.

Considerations & Cautions To Be Aware Of

  • How many years has the company been in business. How long have they been at their current address? Length of time they have been in business can indicate a strong business or one that may be getting started.
  • Can they provide a list of references you can call or reviews that may have been written about them? It is difficult to not have any issues when providing customer service. What you should look for is that the company takes care of the problems when they do arise.  Check to see that they do care about customers.
  • Does the company have the appropriate licenses? This is a legal requirement and if they do not have a license to apply pesticides they could be putting you and your family at risk. Each state has its own license requirements.Ask if the company can provide a copy of their license or at least the number and write it down.
  • Ask if the person performing the services is a licensed pesticide applicator or licensed technician and can they produce their license number.
    Does the company have appropriate insurance? General liability insurance including insurance for sudden and accidental pollution
    workmen’s compensation insurance incase their workers get injured on the job.
  • Ask if the Pest Control company you are interested in belongs to an industry association.

There are pest control associations on the local, state, and national level.

These associations have a code of ethics members are expected to abide by, belonging to these associations indicate they care about the industry and representing it well. These associations keep members up to date on new regulations, pest control methods, safety, training, research and much more.   The National Pest Management Association’s commitment to the protection of public health, food, and property is reflected in the education of pest management professionals and getting information out to homeowners and businesses.

Be cautious of a company combining pest control with other services such as home repair or tree trimming and offering you a special price. First and foremost, make sure they have a license to apply pesticides with the appropriate state agency and that this license allows them to treat structures. A dedicated pest professional spending his day doing pest control will have knowledge learned from the experience of treating many structures or homes for pests.  A company combining pest control spraying with services not related to the pest control industry may have limited knowledge and experience.

How to check a Pest Control Company with the state

What licenses are required a commercial operator’s license for the business an applicator or technician is also required to have their own certification or license.

Verify with state agencies

Who to contact:

  • Better Business Bureau (503) 226-3981 Oregon
  • State Department of Agriculture (503) 986-4635 Oregon
  • State Attorney General’s Office (Oregon Department of Justice (503) 378-4400

What to ask:

  • Does the business have a commercial operator’s license?
  • Do the applicators or technicians have current licenses, and can they apply pesticides to a structure or is it for lawn care only?
  • Does the company have appropriate insurance in the amounts required?
  • Are there any complaints against the company and have they been resolved?

References for more information:

  • (npic) National Pesticide Information Center
  • EPA Tips for Selecting a Pest Control Service How do we select a competent pest control service?
  • EPA U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • EPA Citizen’s Guide to Pest Control and Pesticide Safety