Choosing a Pest Management Company

HYG-2178
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Date: 
04/14/2011
Susan Jones, Ph.D.; Barbara Bloetscher, and Joanne Kick-Raack, Ohio State University Extension, Entomology
Lonnie Alonso, Columbus Pest Control
William P. Kirchner, ACE Cleveland Chemical Pest Control
Gerry Wegner, BCE Varment Guard Environmental Services

Pest Management Basics

  • Proper pest identification is the most important aspect for proper control. Information about pests is available at the Ohio State University Extension website (extension.osu.edu) or at your local pest management company.
  • A single insect or rodent does not necessarily need to be controlled. Some insects just wander into a structure and do not pose a significant problem.
  • Pesticides are just one of the tools for pest management. Professional pest management companies have the training and experience to offer various methods of control and management of pest infestations, depending on your specific situation and circumstances. Do not allow or make a pesticide application until you have made a positive identification of the pest involved. You can make a problem worse by applying the wrong product. If you have made a pesticide application, it is very important to let the pest management professional know what, where, and when you last used the product.

When You Have a Pest Problem

  • If you suspect a pest problem in your structure, you should always consider consulting a pest management professional.
  • Get a proper identification of the pest involved. In order to get the pest identified, save several intact samples of the pest. To keep the specimens from deteriorating, keep them in a plastic container filled with rubbing alcohol, or place the container in the freezer.
  • Selecting a pest control service is as important as selecting other professional services. Ask trusted friends and neighbors for referrals, and consult your local Better Business Bureau.
  • Consultation with your pest management professional may provide more than one option on how to take care of your problem. Ask each pest management company about the specific work that they would perform.

Why Hire a Pest Management Company?

  • For many reasons such as the safe and most effective use of pesticides, it is advised to consult with a professional pest management company. However, if you choose to use a pesticide yourself, take a sample of the pest to a pest management company or to your local Extension office to obtain a positive identification. Ask for recommendations on the best methods and products to use. Always read and follow the label directions on all pesticides.
  • Professional pest management companies have access to the latest selections of formulations and products, and they have experience with current pest conditions.
  • The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) now requires a certified applicator for in-house pest control of multiple housing units consisting of more than four apartments in one building, food handling establishments, and public/private schools and day care centers.
  • Every pest control applicator should have a license, but he or she may not have on-the-job, long-term experience using proper pest management techniques.
  • Even if you have an in-house certified applicator, a pest management professional can be a useful resource as a consultant on issues of pest identification, product selection, technique or method selection, and management options or alternatives.
  • Think of the liability issues from misapplications of products! To avoid potential pest problems resulting in allergic reactions, bites, stings or health issues, consult with a pest management professional.

The Role of the Pest Management Professional

  • Pest management professionals have been protecting food, health, property, and structures from contamination, disease exposure, and pest damage for decades.
  • A professional pest management technician relies on training, expertise, and sophisticated techniques to manage pests in a manner that takes into account the safety of occupants, pets, and the environment.

Looking for a Pest Management Company

  • Ohio law requires that all pest management companies be licensed through the Pesticide Regulation Section of the ODA. A list of licensees is available at the ODA web site (agri.ohio.gov).
  • Membership in a local city pest control association, the Ohio Pest Management Association, and/or the National Pest Management Association provides a pest management company with up-to-date training and information on the best management practices.
  • The best companies participate in training seminars, workshops, short courses, pest control conferences, etc., to keep informed of new developments in pest control methods, safety, training, research, and regulation.
  • When inquiring about a pest management company, ask how long it has been in business.
  • The company should have workers' compensation insurance.
  • Most pest control companies are reliable and legitimate business organizations. If you are not familiar with the company or its reputation, inquire with your local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau.
  • If you are interested in an integrated pest management (IPM) program, ask if the company provides IPM programs. IPM program requirements can be found on the ODA web site (agri.ohio.gov).
  • If the company offers references of previous work, take the time to check them carefully.
  • Upon your request, the company should be willing to supply you with copies of the following:
  • Their ODA Business and Custom Applicator's License
  • Their certificate of insurance
  • Their workers' compensation certificate
  • Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and specimen labels of products to be used
  • Get at least three competitive bids. After each inspection of your residence, the technician should discuss any problems and should submit a proposal for treatment.
  • Prices for inspection, treatment estimates, and conditions of warranties/service agreements can vary considerably. Be sure you know what is guaranteed.
  • Reach a complete understanding with the company before the work starts. Find out what the pest is, how the problem will be treated, how long the period of treatment will be, and what results can be expected after treatment.
  • Inquire about accessibility to upper management in case of a problem.
  • Buy value, not price. What appears to be a real bargain may need a closer look.
  • Bigger is not always better; local ownership and length of service in the community are good indicators of quality companies.

Your Responsibilities While Working With a Pest Management Company

  • Do not make any pesticide applications while working with a professional company. Do not remove professionally placed devices without the expressed permission of the pest management company that placed them. Doing so may compromise your professional's ability to take care of your pest problem.
  • Depending on the service performed, you may have to prepare for treatment before a pest management professional arrives. This is essential for obtaining a successful treatment.
  • You may get a report listing sanitation/structural deficiencies, and whose responsibility it is to correct them. These deficiencies must be addressed for best pest management.
  • After a pesticide application, you should obtain a copy of the service record as prescribed by the ODA.
  • A pest management professional cannot perform miracles! Remember that effective pest management is a partnership—a communicative effort between you and the pest management professional.

Beware of Companies That:

  • use scare/alarm tactics and/or pressure to force you to sign a contract on the spot. Some may cater to the elderly or persons living alone. Take your time to make an informed decision. Most pest problems can wait a few days until you choose a company. Do not be frightened or unduly alarmed.
  • will not provide a company name, address, or telephone number.
  • are unwilling to show you the pest or signs of the pest infestation.
  • cannot/will not answer questions or address your concerns professionally and to your satisfaction.
  • slander other pest control companies by indicating that their products are illegal and/or not useful.
  • submit a quotation that is substantially lower or higher than that of any other companies contacted. Make sure to compare the services being offered. The cheapest estimate is not usually the best deal for the consumer, but an unusually high estimate is not necessarily the best either.
  • claim to be endorsed by a city, state, or national pest control association; The Ohio State University; the ODA; the Ohio Department of Health; or the Environmental Protection Agency. These entities do not endorse companies.
  • cannot show proof of ODA licensing.
  • cannot show proof of liability and property damage insurance.

Evaluating a Pest Management Company

  • Has the company kept to the proposed time frame in treating your pest problem?
  • Does the company respond to your questions and service call requests within a reasonable time?
  • Has your problem been taken care of?

For Persons Who Have Bed Bug Problems

  • Try to determine how the bed bugs got into your structure so that you can prevent them from reinfesting it.
  • Due to the difficulty in eliminating bed bugs, they should be treated by a pest management professional.
  • When looking for a pest management company to control/eliminate bed bugs, ask the following:
    • How long has the company performed bed bug treatments?
    • Can you see the company's certificate of insurance?
    • Can the company provide references of past customers?
    • What sort of service agreement is offered?
    • How much does treatment cost?
    • Can the company provide an estimate?
    • How can you help prepare for a treatment? (Proper preparation is extremely important, as lots of clutter will hinder thorough treatment.)

Conclusions

  • Make an informed decision when hiring a pest management professional.
  • Technology is always changing. New treatment strategies and more effective materials are always coming onto the market.
  • A licensed pest management professional has the knowledge, tools, and resources to handle pest problems.

For Insect Identification

  • Consult your local telephone book for a pest management professional.
  • Contact your local county OSU Extension office (extension.osu.edu).
  • Contact the C. Wayne Ellett Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic for fee-based insect identification:
The Ohio State University
8995 E. Main St., Bldg. 23
Reynoldsburg, OH 43068-3399
Phone: 614-292-5006
Fax: 614-466-3399
Web site: ppdc.osu.edu
 

For Questions About a Pest Management Professional

  • Contact the ODA, which is the state regulatory agency in Ohio:
Ohio Department of Agriculture
Division of Plant Industry
8995 E. Main St.
Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068
Phone: 614-728-6200
Web site: agri.ohio.gov
 
  • Contact the Ohio Office of the Attorney General:
Consumer Protection Hotline
Phone: 1-800-282-0515
 

Industry Associations

  • The Ohio Pest Management Association
136 S. Keowee St.
Dayton, Ohio 45402
Phone: 937-424-3300
Fax: 937-222-5794
Web site: ohiopma.org
 
  • The National Pest Management Association
10460 North St.
Fairfax, VA 22030
Phone: 703-352-6762 (NPMA)
Fax: 703-352-3031
Web site: pestworld.org
 
  • Consult your local telephone book for the Better Business Bureau office nearest you.
  • Consult your state and local chambers of commerce.

Resources Used in This Publication

  • National Pest Management Association. "How to Select a Pest Management Professional."
  • Cincinnati Health Department. "Questions To Ask a Pest Management Operator for Bed Bug Treatment."
  • Central Ohio Bed Bug Task Force (centralohiobedbugs.org).
Program Area(s): 
Ohioline http://ohioline.osu.edu