Applicators who are hired by others to apply pesticides are known by various names, such as pest management professionals (PMP) or exterminators. They may work for a small or large company, for example, a pest control or lawn care company. Regardless of the name, make sure you are hiring an applicator who meets all of your state’s certification and licensing requirements. Certified applicators have specialized training in the safe handling of pesticides.
Although some pest problems can be remedied without hiring a PMP, professional assistance is recommended when structural pests or other persistent pest problems arise, or when you don’t want all the responsibilities that come with using a pesticide. PMPs are skilled in the science of solving pest problems, and certified by their state regulatory agency in the safe use, storage, and disposal of pesticides according to federal and state laws.
- Avoid selecting a PMP based solely on an advertisement or service price.
- Ask your friends or co-workers what PMPs they use, and what their experiences have been.
- Ask how much experience the PMP has in inspecting and handling your type of pest problem.
- Ask what the initial treatment and ongoing management plan will be. This should include all methods of control that will be utilized, as well as any follow-up visits, in a written service agreement.
- Ask what the customer’s responsibilities are in helping to control the pest problem.
- Contact the appropriate regulatory agency to ensure that the PMP is licensed and certified.
- Ask the company to describe its commitment to the initial training and continuing education of its employees. Although technicians in many states are required to attend continuing education events, some companies also provide in-house training or send their employees to university- or state-sponsored training programs and workshops that are above and beyond what is required by the state.
- Ask the company if it is a member of its state and/or national pest control association. Membership suggests that the firm is well-established and that the owners are active in their profession. Membership also suggests that owners and managers attend national and state conferences where insight into key issues facing the pest control industry are highlighted and discussed, and the most recent findings on pest control research and application technology are presented.
- Ask how many years the company has been in business at its present address.
- Contact organizations such as the Better Business Bureau, the State’s Regulatory Agency, 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.
- Ask for a list of references and contact several to find out if they were satisfied with the service provided.
- Ask if the PMP is insured and bonded, and whether the work is guaranteed.
- Request a copy of the PMP’s pest control license.
- Request copies of the labels of pesticides that will be used.
- Ask what safety precautions will be taken by the PMP before, during, and after any application of pesticides.
- Ask what safety precautions should be taken by you before, during, and after any application of pesticides.
- Select a company committed to customer service.
- Always check the identification and license of the employee who arrives at your house.
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 offer a special price if treatment is done immediately.
- Don’t have a listed or working telephone number.
- Sell services door-to-door.
- Arrive unexpectedly and show you insects they have found in your neighbor’s house as evidence of a neighborhood problem.
- Quote a per-product price rather than the price for the full service agreement.
- Claim to have a secret formula. All pesticide products must be registered by the EPA and the State’s Regulatory Agency, and contain the list of active ingredients on the label.
- Try to pressure you into quickly signing a contract by suggesting an urgent need.
- Claim to have excess pesticide left over from a previous job and offer a reduced price for immediate treatment.
- Claim to be endorsed by EPA, the State’s Regulatory Agency, or other government agency. Government agencies do NOT endorse any service company or specific pesticide product.
Pesticide laws are often different from state to state. The following links provide contact information for state pesticide regulators:
- Association of American Pesticide Control Officials
- Association of Structural Pest Control Regulatory Officials
Here are some resources that provide additional information: