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Cost Factors in Pest Control

How much does extermination cost?  This really depends on the locality (the region, land and water issues) as well as the company and its market research.  Another factor to consider is which bugs you are spraying/fumigating for.  Not all bugs are the same.  Some are extremely difficult and dangerous, while others will require special equipment.  Naturally, these species will be more expensive to get rid of.

We cannot presume to provide a standard price quote for every pest control company out there.  We’ve definitely heard reports of companies charging $50-$300 or more to spray for insects for a 90 day period.  Quarterly contracts may cost more, upwards of $500-$1000 yearly, depending on the size of the property and the pest.

Rodents are similarly priced, at least when setting down poison is all that is required.  However, installing traps might be more expensive, as would charging to get rid of wildlife creatures such as bats, bees, gators, snakes and so on.  Poisonous animals are the most expensive charge, though you might get some assistance from local authorities if the pest is a protected species.

Extra charges may be required for specially trained sniffing dogs (common with bedbugs) and for fumigation, which is commonly recommended in cases of bedbug or termite infestation.  Fumigation treatments could cost thousands, but again, this is depending on the size of the house or business.  

Ultimately, you don’t want cheap service.  You appreciate coupons, seasonal discounts and repeat business specials, sure.  However, going with the cheapest option can be very unproductive.  You’re not really saving anything if the exterminator company just has to come back and charge you full price again. 

Don’t worry too much about price—unless you don’t have the budget to pay for certain services.  Instead, concentrate on getting the lowdown of what they do, and whether that’s worth the value.  Companies that pay greater attention to detail and offer extended warranties are a much more cost-efficient choice than one-time pest control outfits that do a shoddy job.  Obviously, give special attention to any company that is smart enough to put some effort into biological planning and ecological sensitivity, as well as chemical bug warfare, if necessary.  Most importantly, choose a company that explains its safety procedures, which shows care for your home and family. 

Price is not the bottom line.  With issues like pest control (some species which could be deadly) and using potentially dangerous chemicals, you want the company that puts in the work to make sure you’re taken care of in every respect. 

Steps in Hiring a Pest Control Company

Step 1: Make sure the company has experience in working with the bug/rodent/animal that you have a problem with.  There’s no sense to hire a general exterminator to handle major league issues like scorpion infestation.

Step 2: Always ask what chemicals the exterminators are using and what equipment, so you can be sure that it is safe (for you and the neighborhood).  You may want to decline some chemicals if you have a low tolerance for certain ones, or you may be okay with anything as long as it gets the job done.  You should always talk to an experienced exterminator who may be able to advise you if certain poisons are especially life-threatening to pets or young children.  You could also consult a doctor if the exterminator is unsure. 

Step 3: Determine in advance what you need done and what you’re willing to pay for, as the contract states.  While it is not customary for exterminators to make home repairs (such as caulking and the like) it’s not unheard of for a company to offer this provision.  Be sure to ask for an itemized invoice with each charge printed in advance.

Step 4: Ask about follow up appointments and applications and see just how far they’ve thought this plan through.  You can decide how often you want the exterminators to come back; for example, monthly visits (recommended for restaurants for sure), quarterly visits or even yearly visits.  If you don’t want recurring visits, then at least be sure to establish a friendly relationship with the company so that you can contact them immediately should a problem arise.  Regular services may be costly, but if you determine in advance what you need, you need not spent too much.  You can always pay for inspections, and avoid using extra chemicals if there have been no pest problems.

Step 5: Make sure you evaluate the company’s satisfaction policy.  Get everything in writing including one-time services, regular services, miscellaneous expenses, and what to do should there be any disputes.

Guarantees and Warranties in Pest Control

When it comes to guarantees and warranties, a lot of this will depend on the company’s marketing approach, and what they perceive to be the local needs of the community.  Warranties can be extreme—from ten years and on, or perhaps as little as six months to a year.  There are also varying types of warranties, including repair coverage, re-treatment coverage and premium warranties which are all encompassing.

Are they worth buying?  It really depends on your budget as well as the type of pest you are trying to eliminate.  If the problem is dire, such as scorpion or mice infestation, then a warranty might be a good idea, particularly if you couldn’t afford another drastic measure within a short period of time.  With warranties, you’re not merely avoiding high fees associated with equipment and pesticides, but also sparing yourself reapplication fees and other expenses you will have to pay. 

Most warranties offer free coverage in the event of another infestation episode, but you should know that most companies who do offer this warranty, statistically speaking, do not notice any recurring problems.  So in a way, it’s a gamble, since it’s unlikely that a total fumigation will fail…but at the same time, it will be a major headache if the bugs/rodents reappear. 

Warranties are for your protection, since no pest control company can afford to do a second extermination job for free.  Some of our abilities are limited to the power of nature and stubborn pests that learn how to evolve and adapt over time.  With a warranty, provided the warranty explicitly says no dollar limits or partial coverage, you are completely protected from initial failure.

Warranties may also include:

  • Unexpected national/international bugs or pests that other companies might not cover
  • Inspections of your home on a regular basis, and without the need to schedule an appointment
  • The ability to transfer the warranty to a new homeowner if you sell your house
  • Protection against accidental damage to your property, to wells or water systems, or structural foundations of the home (though, this is usually covered in liability insurance; believe it or not, some shady companies won’t pay for this)

Guarantees are handled either through money back guarantee (if the householder or business owner is unhappy with the service), or through free redoing of the initial pest control project should there be failure.  There is obviously no guarantee that bugs will never return, so what you are actually negotiating in this case is repeat “one time” service—in the event it is needed.

Not all companies offer guaranteed options, and frankly, none should have to do this just to be perceived as legitimate.  Companies are required to be honest, transparent and straightforward about what they can do and what they can’t do.  They can’t predict the future—all they can do is predict what happens according to the sciences of pest control that they do understand.

Nonetheless, it is certainly reassuring when a company puts its money where its mouth is, so to speak, and offers to redo the job or give a money back guarantee, in the event that the treatment is unsuccessful.  Naturally, such guarantees are time sensitive, since many factors can change within several months.  So keep this point in mind, and don’t make any presumptions.  Just get it in writing.

Cookie Cutter Services vs. the Customized Approach to Pest Control

The term “cookie cutter” refers to standardized treatment, which saves a bundle for established companies, since the common thinking is that their customer base generally wants the same thing.  However, this is not a very realistic approach to pest control, since every house is different, every homeowner has different preferences, and every structure is different.  Since this is an ongoing process, personal and custom approaches work best, especially if certain pests prove to be resistant to outdated technology.

The personal approach involves:

  • Assessing the situation, which includes inspection, identifying categories or pests, potential causes and hypothetical solutions, and then settling on the best treatment available.  This process also involves consideration of the facility type, and any housing or building conditions that might be involved in pest activity.
  • The next stage is implementation, which is the personalized approach, covering areas of prevention ideas, environmental responsibility and a discussion of sanitation hot spots.
  • The monitoring stage involves regular inspections, just to make sure the pest control problem is being resolved.  While it’s always common in homes, it is a necessity for many businesses that rely on a clean and healthy environment to thrive.  Agents from the pest control company will come by and look for signs of hidden pest activity, conditions that may bring them back, and compare and review the efficacy of the current program for all pests. 
  • Lastly there is the documentation stage, which involves documenting all transactions, all results, all findings and all chemicals that were used during the pest control visit. 

Personalized services are also invaluable whenever you have a “difficult” pest like mosquitoes (which many exterminator companies won’t even treat, because it requires a highly unique approach and not “cookie cutter” type services) or even scorpions, who are considered “difficult pests” even when compared to roaches and mice.  There is no pest that is impossible to destroy or control, but it does take more work and this will scare some exterminators away.  (Or worse yet, you get one treatment idea and then they throw in the towel)  Additional research may be involved as well as experimental treatment, in chemical, natural or even biological solutions.

How to Pick the Right Pest Control Company: Contracts

It’s imperative that you get everything in writing before agreeing to work with any exterminator company.  While it’s easy to think that if you trust someone, there is no reason for a contract, this is not how it should go.  You should trust someone because they are willing to put everything in writing—that speaks volumes about the transparency and honesty of the company.

This is especially important in homes that may be vulnerable to a variety of pests.  Do not assume that a company will take care of any and all problems with pests, even if there are verbal assurances to that effect. 

In general, if a contract does not specifically list a species of pest, or very particular situations, there is no reason to assume that coverage is there.  Besides, if the contract explicitly mentions a pest by name (say, scorpions or rats, etc.) then they will have to honor this contract, and all guarantees associated with services. 

Contracts are quite common in the business, and that’s not merely speaking of onetime service charges, but also of recurring contracts to protect a home from the threat of invasion.  The threat of infestation is typically not a problem that is forever cured with one visit.  You must maintain your home or business and ensure that the pest control company is appearing on a regular basis in order to offer protection for the long-term. 

So most companies are not going to simply do one job and bid you goodbye.  They are going to try to talk you into recurring services, as this is the best way to ensure you will not be infested later.  In case you haven’t been told yet…bugs usually don’t listen to “word of mouth.”

The service agreement contact breaks down all items one by one rather than simply having one huge “one-time treatment price.”

Consider that even the EPA warns against being content with occasional or one-time treatments for a long-term solution.  This is because:

  1. The EPA only regulates products for three months of treatment time, meaning one-time treatments will never completely control the situation. 
  2. Companies that really care about customers are not going to go for the quick one-time payment option if they know the house or business holder is going to be calling back in a month.  They may accept these terms at the request of the householder, but it’s not likely their recommendation. 
  3. Eggs of pests don’t even hatch for about six months for some species and furthermore, some species can actually “starve” for half a year’s time before dying.

Pests are an ongoing problem and contracts ensure your long-term protection.  True, you might not need “regular fumigations”, but a fumigation job followed by regular visits using sprays, granules, gels and so on is fairly common.  Even if you get rid of one pest, don’t conclude that you’re off the hook for the rest of your life.  Different pests can turn up at any time and for the same reasons—or entirely different reasons. 

This is not medicine man style work with cures and “fixes”, but a program of consistency, which takes many factors into account.

How to Pick the Right Pest Control Company: Reputation

Reputation is the next aspect to consider, and it’s not the same thing as experience or know-how.  A company’s reputation represents how they work with others.  It’s not just part of their “brand”, as in what they’re saying—but how they treat their customers before, during and after the pest control experience. 

There are just as many good exterminators as there are crooked con artists out there.  A company’s reputation—what others are saying about them, and how word is spreading—is the determining factor between a positive and negative experience.  A crooked operation, or even a legal business that does unethical work, is not going to develop a stellar reputation, and that’s regardless of advertising.  Their name will eventually suffer as the local community wises up to their empty promises.

However, companies that go out of their way to provide an excellent, stress-free experience will be remembered by the customer.  They will make most of their sales off referrals and the rest via word of mouth, friend to friend advertising—which is so much more effective nowadays than empty sales copy.  Their good business ethic will be what makes the company last for the long-term.

And no doubt, you will be very impressed by friendly service, special savings, coupons, seasonal deals and little extras that show the company cares.

That said, those are not always the most important factors.  When deciding which pest control company to try, consider these questions:

  • Am I settling for the first company I see listed on the net?
  • Have I considered reports from the Better Business Bureau?
  • Do any of these companies have reviews on Yelp or other local websites
  • Are you getting your information from legitimate reviews or just company hype?
  • What companies do your friends and families use?
  • Are you making a list and comparing pros and cons of each company? 
  • How long has your company of choice been practicing in your area?
  • Are they willing to give references?
  • Are they willing to show evidence of license and certification?
  • Are there believable customer testimonials?  (Preferably on third party websites?)
  • Is the company a member of a national pest control association?
  • Is the company insured for liability? 
  • Are technicians licensed individually as well as the company?  (Important since, technicians will be doing the actual work)
  • What guarantees does the company offer?
  • Does the company use any biological pest management solutions or pesticides?  Does it matter for your particular neighborhood or house?
  • How long do their services take, by their own word and by the words of others?
  • How soon will they schedule you for inspection and treatment?
  • What extras do they offer?

In short, make sure that the company you favor can back up everything they promise well before you pay for any services.  They should be proud to give you references and proof of certification, not make an issue about it.  Total transparency is the sign of a successful and trustworthy company, and almost needless to say, it is vital when you’re paying for such costly services. 

How to Pick the Right Pest Control Company: Experience

Now experience is an altogether different issue.  A lot of pest control companies have schooling and have textbook knowledge.  (A lot of which you’ve covered in this book)  However, without real world experience, these newbies may be out of their league.  Bugs are unpredictable, even with what we know about them. 

Bugs, rodents and wildlife species can also “adapt” to their environment.  So it’s not unheard of for certain pests to grow a tolerance to some of the weaker pesticides.  The last thing you want is for an exterminator to shrug and say, “Well it should have worked!”  That’s not going to do a lot of good for your infestation problem! 

This emphasizes the importance of experience—and not just a year or so, to pass an exam, but many years of daily experience working within the industry and within the city.  This means that the company is:

  1. Established and not likely to go out of business anytime soon.
  2. They know their pesticides and understand what works—and this superior knowledge is what keeps them thriving.
  3.  Have experience in working with many different types of pests and a variety of unique situations.

In short, the more the company has seen over the years, the more qualified they are to give advice based on their hands-on experience. 

How to Pick the Right Pest Control Company: Qualifications

The first two aspects to consider are qualifications and reputation.  Qualifications are important, since pest control companies must be licensed by the state to handle certain poisons.  You won’t even be able to gain access to the strongest and most effective poisons without finding a licensed and trusted authority in the field. 

A company must meet minimum requirements in order to attain a license and legally practice this profession.  Educational prerequisites do differ from state to state, but most will involve a certain number of hours in classroom training regarding environmental standards, as well as more hours studying on-the-job training for modern pest control methods.  An exterminator who is certified (approved by an elite membership of the field, statewide or nationally) must supervise such training.

In order to conclude, a trainee must finish an exam for licensing and certification, and pass a criminal background check.  The license may encompass principle and branch locations, and may involve various forms of applications, such as ground pests, aquatic pests or aerial pests. 

Other essentials may include:

  • A fictitious business name
  • A certificate of good standing
  • Workers compensation insurance
  • Liability insurance
  • Registering the business name
  • Renewing licenses and certifications

However, even once a company is up and running, there is a great deal of work to do.  Pest control companies must keep pest control application notification for at least two years, in addition to their usual expenses and invoices.  They must record all uses of pesticides and will sometimes be required to make reports to the local government office. 

They will be expected to have valid permits for all the materials they use, regardless of volume or activity, and keep pest control advisories on file, cover local standards and acceptable uses. 

Completed schooling, of course, is a symbol of the educational milestones the company has reached, indicating to home and business owners that these professionals understand how their field works, and understand why infestation is occurring.  Government standards are in effect in order to protect the environment from the mismanagement of dangerous chemical products.

Where to Stay During Evacuation for Pest Control

Some types of pest control measures, such as whole house fumigations, require home evacuation for a specific period of time.  This can be anywhere from one day to an extended time for troublesome cases.  So where does one stay during the evacuation? 

Hotels are an obvious choice if you can afford them.  It can even be seen as a positive thing; a mini-vacation if one has the right attitude.  A maid does all the cleaning, there is typically a swimming pool, endless cable TV and few stresses.  Might as well make the most of a situation and enjoy it! 

When staying at a hotel however, do be sure you aren’t taking any pests home to your pest free home when you return.  Hotels can often be the hiding place for the nasty pests known as bedbugs.  To ensure a pleasant stay with no nasty bug surprises, when you first check in to the room immediately check the beds for any signs of bed bugs.  Check the headboards and beneath mattresses for any signs of bugs such as little red dots, or the bugs themselves.  Once you are sure it is clear, you can enjoy your relaxing stay. 

Another option is of course to head over to your family or friends homes for a visit.  Once again, why not make the best of a bad situation by staying with people you love and spending some time with them.  Plan some fun activities together and make the most of your time together.  Be sure to be good house guests, and it is bound to be at least tolerable if not a good visit. 

When staying with friends or family, you still need to be sure of any bug issues.  People with pets may also have fleas in their homes.  The best thing to do when returning home is to throw all items you can into a washing machine when you get home, and to place any other items into plastic bags to help kill off any visitors which may have hitched a ride home with you. 

Neither option suit you?  How about a little camping?  Pitch a tent and sleep under the stars, just be sure you don’t do it in the backyard if it is not recommended by your pest control company.  Heading to a local campground can be affordable and plenty of fun, especially if you have children.  Sit around the campfire, tell ghost stories, or laze around in a hammock.  Just be sure you watch out for the creepy crawlies of nature as you are now on their home turf.  Ticks and mosquitoes are the biggest worries, but with a few preventative measures, they won’t pose to big of a problem.  

If you have pets, you will need to find them lodging as well.  There are pet friendly hotels, boarding options, and of course, nice friends who allow your fluffy family member to stay too.  Be sure you have considered everything you need for your pet when planning a whole home fumigation or other treatment such as paper work showing the pet is up to date on shots, water bowls, cages, leashes, and ID tags. 


How to Avoid Getting Sick While Using Pesticides

Accidental poisonings are a tragedy that often could have been easily avoided.  To avoid getting sick while using pesticides it is important you know the facts.  Various pesticides can make you sick by skin contact, breathing them in, if they get into your eyes or if they are swallowed.  Follow all safety precaution when using pesticides such as wearing goggles if specified, and storing them properly. 

Know the signs to look for to spot if you or someone you are with is showing symptoms of poisoning.  Slurred speech, headaches, profuse sweating, rashes, trouble breathing, and pain all need immediate attention.  If you are handling pest control on your own, be sure you know what to do in case of an emergency prior to handling pesticides.  Most pesticide containers will tell you how to handle a situation, such as flushing out the area with water or contacting a poison control center. 

Whenever you handle pesticides it is required that you wash your hands immediately afterwards.  This means wash your hands before you reach for your glass and take a drink, pull out a stick of gum, light up a cigarette, head to the bathroom, and before you touch up your lipstick.  Be sure to also wash your hands before you touch your face or rub your neck, or use them to touch anything else on your person.  This simple measure can prevent individuals from getting sick when they are using DIY pest control measures or entering the house after a professional job.  Another option is wearing gloves designed to be resistant to chemicals, which is believe to reduce risk by as much as eighty percent.

With proper precautions, it is fairly easy for an adult to avoid getting sick, but what about children and pets?  Small children and pets are lower to the ground and tend to spend more time in areas where pest control sprays are administered, they both also tend to put things in their mouth.  This means you have to use extra safety precautions when using any type of poison or insecticide in these areas.  If you are using a professional exterminator, you can discuss this issue with them.  They will typically advise that animals and children be removed from the area or even completely from the home for a certain period of time.  They will advise how long until the area is safe for little ones again.  Choose a company that you feel safe with, that is more than willing to answer all your questions and offer alternatives.      

It is important to put away all items that you can around your home as well.  This means putting away all dishes and silverware if pest control will be used in the kitchen of your home.  Put away toothbrushes and towels out of bathrooms.  Clothing and toys should be removed from areas where spraying is going on, as should pet bowls and bedding.  Anything that will come into contact with a person or pet’s mouth or bare body should be stored safely away. 

Be sure that you avoid the areas for the appropriate amount of time.  This is typically six hours but varies greatly depending on the products being used.  Ventilating the home is often a good idea after any treatments.  Fresh air from open windows is always refreshing and can help avoid minor irritations such as headaches.