Most homeowners experience a problem with pests at some point. Finding nuisance insects, rodents, or other bugs or critters in your home can be disturbing, and it is natural to want to get rid of them as soon as possible. However, while a pest problem needs to be addressed quickly, you shouldn't call the first company you find in the phone book.
It takes time for pests to cause extensive damage. Mice can reproduce quickly, but their gestation period is 21 days. You have a few days in which to do your due diligence and find a knowledgeable pest control company with a good reputation, such as Bug Ninjas. It is crucial to find a company you can trust. Otherwise, the treatment could be ineffective at best or harmful to you or the environment at worst.
What Do You Need To Do When Looking for a Pest Control Company?
Due diligence is vital when you are looking for a pest control company, but what exactly does that mean? Take the time to investigate several companies fully to make sure that the one you ultimately choose can perform an effective treatment while keeping you and your family safe from harmful exposure to toxic chemicals.
You should look into several companies before making your final decision, and here are some things you should keep in mind as part of the process.
1. Look for Pest Control Companies That Provide Integrated Pest Management
Integrated Pest Management is a common-sense approach to pest control based on scientific principles. It is the safest method, the method that is best for the environment, and also the method that is most effective against pests.
IPM involves identifying the pest as specifically as possible and tailoring an approach toward control based on identification. It calls for learning as much as possible about each pest and using that information to formulate a plan for control that will be most effective. Following IPM, professionals identify all the options available for control and start by using the least toxic methods available first in a systematic approach. Only if the initial method is not effective does an IPM technician move on to more toxic options. IPM limits exposure to chemicals by only applying the treatments where they are needed.
2. Understand the Different Pest Control Categories
Not all pest control companies are equipped to handle every type of pest. Some are more specialized while others work more generally. General household pest control can handle most of the nuisance species that you may encounter in your home, such as bed bugs, rodents, and mosquitoes. Some pests, such as termites, require more specialized methods and therefore a different category of pest control. Before you hire a pest control company, make sure that it provides the type of service you need. Bug Ninja provides termite control as well as more general services.
3. Find Out About the Legal Requirements
Every pest control professional has to comply with federal and state regulations on the industry, and sometimes with local requirements as well. Every state has its own laws governing pest control companies, so the requirements vary. However, it is a standard requirement that the company has to be licensed in the state in which it operates, as Bug Ninja is licensed in Louisiana.
You don't have to take a company's word that it is licensed. In the state of Louisiana, you can verify this information with the state Department of Agriculture and Forestry. A representative of the company should also be able to show you documentation as well.
4. Confirm Insurance Coverage
You should also find out about the insurance coverage the company has for its technicians. It should have general liability insurance to cover you in the event that the technician makes a mistake, and workers' compensation insurance to protect you from liability in the event that a technician is injured while working on your property. It is reasonable to ask for proof on paper that a pest control company has adequate insurance.
5. Find Out About the Company's Reputation
Chances are good that you know other homeowners, such as friends and family members, who have had to hire pest control professionals such as Bug Ninja in the past. You can ask them to recommend a company with which they had a good experience. You can also investigate whether there have been any complaints about a company by making inquiries to the state pesticide regulatory agency or third-party organizations such as the Better Business Bureau.
6. Make Sure the Company Has a Working Phone Number
Unfortunately, there are some fraudulent pest control companies operating in the United States. Once you get ready to start calling companies to arrange interviews, you may find that some do not have phone numbers listed, or the phone number list does not work. If you find any of these, stay away from them as they are probably fraudulent. When you do get ahold of a pest control company by phone, ask for its physical address. If you cannot verify its location, that is a red flag, and you should not communicate with the company any further.
7. Interview up to Five Pest Control Companies
When you have narrowed down the list of candidates to around three to five companies, you should conduct interviews with them face to face. During the interview, there are important questions that you should ask:
During the interview, ask for references, which you should follow up on as soon as possible. You should be able to receive a free estimate of the cost to treat your home from each pest control company during the interview.
8. Inspect Company Vehicles
When you are interviewing pest control companies, you should take a look at their vehicles. In Louisiana, it is acceptable to use a removable sign on the vehicle, such as a magnetic sign. However, an unmarked vehicle is a red flag for a fraudulent company. Not only should the vehicles be clearly marked with the name of the company, but the pesticide containers should be labeled clearly with their contents. The containers should be secure, the equipment should be well organized, and the vehicle itself should be well-maintained and clean.
What Should You Expect a Pest Control Company To Do?
What you can expect from pest control pros varies depending on whether you choose one that performs Integrated Pest Management. Assuming that you hire an IPM company, such as Bug Ninja, you can expect these steps to deal with your problem.
1. Identify the Specific Pest
IPM is based on learning as much as possible about each specific type of pests, including its life cycle, needs, and habits. A pest control company that practices IPM should be able to not only identify the pest but explain the risks that it poses to you and your property and present options for resolving the issue.
2. Perform an Inspection
Effective pest control involves not only identifying the type of pests you have in your home but also where they are hiding and how many of them there are. To do this, a technician must perform a thorough inspection of your home that involves looking around, behind, under, and on top of areas that are likely to be infested. They are looking not only for current nests but also entry points. IPM involves preventing further inspections by identifying and sealing these entry points.
3. Explain Safety Measures
The chemicals used in pest control can be dangerous. The company should be able to explain the safety measures it has in place to prevent unnecessary exposure and reduce risks to the environment. You should ask questions about how the pesticides are applied and whether you have to clean up the residue, which is rare with an IPM approach.
By law, the company should be able to provide you with material safety data sheets and product labels for the pesticides used upon your request. If you do request them, you should review them.
4. Provide a Written Quote
A pest control company should quote you a price for services in writing. The written quote should be itemized with prices for all the services performed as part of the treatment.
5. Explain the Terms of the Contract
You will be asked to sign a contract before the treatment can take place. You have a responsibility to read the entire contract before signing it and to make sure you understand it. If there are any terms that are unclear, you should ask about them, and the company should be able to explain them to you in a way that you can comprehend.
6. Comply With the Law
You can expect a pest control company to comply with applicable laws even if it means not doing exactly what you want. For example, a technician cannot just "spray everything" merely because that's what you ask of them. That would be a violation of the constraints imposed on pest control companies by law.
7. Show You the Damage or Signs of Infestation
A pest control company should be able to show you the signs of infestation and the damage that has been done to your property. If you do not understand what you are seeing, you should be able to receive an explanation upon request.
8. Have Qualified Personnel Perform the Inspection and Application
The people who perform the inspection of your property and the application of the treatment should be qualified to do their jobs. Just bear in mind that the same person doesn't always do both. The one doing the inspection may be a salesperson with the company, while a technician may perform the actual application.
9. Communicate Effectively
A pest control company should be able to explain to you things like contract terms, pricing, and instructions that you have to follow prior to the treatment. For example, you may be asked to leave the premises during the application or not to allow pets in the area. You may have to move furniture out of the way so that the technician has access or dispose of food to prevent contamination. The company should be able to communicate these requirements to you clearly well before the treatment takes place.
However, effective communication also involves listening to your concerns and taking them into consideration. Remember that taking your concerns into consideration is not the same as doing whatever you want without regard for applicable laws.
Pay attention to your feelings when you are communicating with representatives of the company. If you feel that you are being rushed or pressured, or that you are not being listened to or shown the proper respect, this is a red flag that the company may not be trustworthy. In that case, you should cut off contact with the company immediately.
10. Make Suggestions To Prevent Future Infestations
In addition to identifying and sealing entry points, a pest control company should be able to suggest home maintenance steps you can take to prevent future infestations. For example, clutter inside and out provides cover where nuisance species can hide. Allowing standing water on your property or irrigation that moistens the walls can create conditions conducive to pest breeding and infestation. Allowing the branches of trees and shrubs to touch walls and windows provides a bridge of sorts for pests to access the building.
The professionals may also suggest ongoing inspections and treatments to prevent future infestations. This is part of Integrated Pest Management.
Bug Ninja is a pest control company providing services in Baton Rouge that takes an Integrated Pest Management approach. Contact us today for more information.
I really enjoy researching and writing about pests. The more we know about bugs, the easier it becomes to control them.