Updated: May 25
I’m sure that by now most of you have seen or at least heard about the A&E reality series Billy the Exterminator. Known for his unusual fashion style, Billy (aka William Bretherton) is nothing if not entertaining. How good he is at his chosen profession of pest control, however, is open for discussion. Which raises the question: just what is a ‘good’ exterminator?
And how can you tell whether the person you hire to solve whatever pest problem have is the real deal, or just plain incompetent? If you need to get rid of mites, bed bugs, termites or any of their fellow pest, you need to be able to figure this out - and fast!
What do you need to know to pick a good exterminator?
Selecting the Right Pest Control Company
Selecting the right pest control company is much the same as picking the right mechanic to fix your car or the best person to repair your roof: you decide on the basis of value and quality of their work. Poor bang for the buck? Shoddily executed work? Then you don’t make use of their services, regardless of how tempting a low price might seem or however persuasive they are as salespeople.
Of course, cost is important, but then, so is competency. Just make sure that cost alone is not the deciding factor when you are choosing pest control company. You may save upfront, but you’ll pay the price later on when your pest problem hasn’t been taken care of and you have to call in an alternate exterminator.
Finding a Good Exterminator: What to Look For
To help you pick the best pest control company we have listed a few items below that will help you in your search.
Let’s face it: when most find we have a pest problem we want it sorted out ASAP, right? Not an unusual reaction, but it actually pays dividends if you do your homework and find a reliable, efficient ̶ and reasonably priced ̶ company to do the work. It’s also in your interest to get estimates from more than one potential company. Best of all, such estimates are usually free. If a company wants to charge you for the estimate, move on. Go to the next firm on your list
So, how do you choose the best exterminator?
Reputation Rule Number #1: Don’t rely on what you find on a company’s website alone. And don’t rely on advertising claims You could start by asking members of your family, followed by friends, coworkers, or neighbors for a recommendation. Of course, you can go to a site like Angie’s List, but you may find that you have to pay to access similar sites. You’d be better off contacting your state pesticide regulatory office or your local Better Business Bureau.
Credentials No matter the size of the company, they should have at least one certified, licensed commercial pesticide applicator. Not only that, other applicators in the company also have to be certified applicators who work directly under the supervision of a certified applicator. Company personnel should all hold current licenses, which can be verified by calling your local State Departments of Agriculture. Actually, that may not even be necessary, since a reliable company will always show you their permits.
Estimates and Guarantees The next important step in your selection process is getting an estimate from the companies on your list. Just how much should it cost to get rid of the bed bugs? Kill the roaches? fumigate the fleas? Trash the ticks? Well, as we said, many companies offer free estimates and, if they’re reliable, they’ll also provide you with those estimates in writing. If a company is unwilling to provide any kind of estimate, that’s not a good sign, so move on to the next name on your list. Hint: Get estimates from more than one company and carefully compare their respective rates and services. Although some companies offer legitimate long-term contracts, be sure that the services you’re contracting for are actually needed. If so, what are the long-term costs? Finally, are the companies you’re talking to able to guarantee their work? In writing? If the answer is “no”, your answer back should likewise be “no.“
Safety Assuming that the companies you’re talking to are able to quickly identify the pest(s) they’ll have to deal with ̶ and explained how they intend to proceed ̶ you should ask them for details about the products they’re going to use and what that entails. And don’t feel abashed to do this. After all, it’s your house and you will have to live with the results of their work. Once again, a reputable, reliable company will be happy to answer all your questions, and can often provide explanatory literature if you ask for it.
Hiring an Exterminator: What to Watch Out For
Unfortunately, for all the good, trustworthy companies out there, there also those that run the gamut from sloppy and unreliable to downright fraudulent, so you have to proceed with caution.
So, once again a list. This time we'll look at which companies to steer clear of. Run the other way if it's a company that:
Sells their services door-to-door
Shows up uninvited and show you insects they’ve found in your neighbor’s house as evidence of a neighborhood problem.
Tells you that they can bring in ‘specially trained’ dogs that can detect bed bugs without fail. Note: Not all experts agree that dogs are the end-all solution to identifying a bed bug problem.
Claims that they, and they alone, have a to have a secret formula for eradicating pests. These folks are the modern-day equivalent of 19th Century Frontier snake oil salesmen. Beware!
Tells you your house is infested with termites and tries to pressure you into signing a contract because your house is infested and might collapse at any moment.
Offers you a pest control as part of a package that includes home repair or tree trimming.
Claims that they’re officially endorsed by the States Departments of Agriculture, the U.S. EPA or other government agency. Fact: Government agencies do not endorse any service company or pesticide product.
The Sterifab Factor
A remarkable number of exterminators and pest control companies use Sterifab as one of their most reliable and effective means of attack. Why? There are a number of reasons:
First, Sterifab is an extremely powerful agent for eliminating bed bugs, lice, ticks, fleas and a host of other insects, and, it can used effectively on everything ̶ except people, animals and cooking utensils.
Not only can Sterifab be used to treat virtually any inanimate object or location, there are no other products registered with the U.S EPA that can make these claims.
Second, Sterifab is a highly effective disinfectant, and has been used for decades in a wide variety of institutions, organizations and facilities. It’s specifically designed to:
Kill fungus, germs, and viruses
Kill mold and mildew
Destroys pathogenic odors
Plus, Sterifab not only reduces the level of micro-organisms from a variety of sites, but also functions as a bacteriostatic ̶ inhibiting bacterial growth ̶ and as a highly effective fungistatic, preventing otherwise hard-to-control fungal growth.
What Can You Expect?
A general rule of thumb, it’s very unlikely that a pest control specialist is going to be able to get rid of your ‘bug problem’ in one visit. The fact is that no one is adept enough to spray every bug and vacuum up every egg on the first visit.
Your exterminator should provide a thorough explanation of what chemicals are going to be employed (residual and non-residual). And, very important here, the exterminator should also be able offer a plausible explanation for why, or how the pest, got there in the first place.
Most exterminators who evaluate an infested venue generally note ̶ usually for their own edification or that of their superiors ̶ just how badly a home/office is affected. For instance, they might utilize a three-choice report card, with categories such as ‘Light’, ‘Moderate’ or ‘Heavy. ‘Light’ might mean a few live bugs in one room. At the other end of the spectrum, terms like ‘Heavy’, might be indicative of dozens of bed bugs crawling around between mattress and box-spring, or an enormous number of (fill in the blank for your pest of choice).
At some point ̶ preferably before, but certainly right after the completion ̶ of your exterminator’s work they ought to make specific proposals for preventing future pest infestations. If your home or office happens to contain areas that offer spaces that are particularly attractive to various kinds of pest, the exterminator should alert you to this fact and suggest ways to immediately ameliorate the situation.
If, on the other hand, your exterminator discovers that you have structural ‘issues’ ̶ for instance, holes in the siding, easy access points under the eaves or porches, spaces around the windows, etc ̶ it is really incumbent on them to recommend maintenance steps, such as they are
And, lest we forget, you should definitely ask your exterminator for a detailed report recounting the service(s) performed, as well as recommended follow-up steps. Oh yes, and the report should also provide a reasonable estimate of future costs.
Insuring Your Future
Most of us quail when we hear the term ‘insurance’, but in this particular case, you should ask your exterminator if they carry insurance against future infestations. Put aside your optimistic belief in the power of professionalism and pesticides and find out if your contractor carries general liability insurance, including insurance for sudden and accidental infestation.
The fact is that comprehensive insurance can provide you a guaranteed measure of protection should an accident occur while pesticides are being used in your home or office. Hint: even though many states don’t oblige pest control companies to buy insurance, you should nevertheless be wary of hiring an extermination company that is not insured.
Good luck dealing with your particular bug problem. If, at this point, you’re still unsure about what to do next, take a gander at the Sterifab blog. You can find a whole host information and tops to help you with your specific pest problem.