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How to Choose a Pest Control Service

Top10.com Staff
How to Choose a Pest Control Service
There’s no way to sugar coat it: Pest infestations are terrible. From insects to vermin, having unwelcome bugs and wild animals take up residence in your home or office can cause serious distress and pose physical harm. Left to their own devices, pests can lay ruin to building foundations, destroy landscaping, and attack harmless passersby.

Removing these unwanted guests is a matter best left to professionals. Taking a do-it-yourself method can place others at risk, exposing them to dangerous traps, unsafe chemicals, and creatures that are best handled by experts trained to fully eliminate the threat. Even when tempted to take matters into your own hands to eliminate an insect or vermin infestation as quickly as possible, leaving matters to those experienced in preventing and mitigating intruders is the smartest course of action.

Hiring professional exterminators, however, isn’t always cheap—or straightforward. Many services may eliminate a short-term problem but neglect to solve the underlying issue. Consumers can also be left stuck footing a bill for unnecessary services that go much further than the original issue. Similar-sounding pest control terminology can also lead to consumer confusion, leading to wasted time and resources while determining the proper course of action.

From identifying the right services you need to figuring out which questions to ask, this guide is here to help those in need of pest control services. When it’s time to eliminate insects, rodents, and everything in between, here’s how to choose a pest control service.

Do I Need Pest Control?

If your property has become overrun with unwanted creatures, pest control will likely be your best option. Trained to mitigate intrusions from insects, wild animals, and everything in between, professional pest control services can return your home or business to its creature-free state.

Whether it’s the occasional mouse or a massive termite infestation, it’s worth having a professional pest inspection to identify potential areas of entry and present a variety of options to mitigate future troubles. Even if the problem doesn’t seem out of control, peace of mind is often worth the price of a one-time or recurring pest control visit.

Which Type of Pest Control Service Do You Need?

Pest control may seem like an all-encompassing term, but in reality, it’s a phrase that describes different methods to kill, remove, and prevent pest infestations.

There are 3 distinct services pest control providers tend to offer:

  • Pest extermination, for killing invasive pests through the use of insecticides, traps, or full-fledged fumigations.

  • Pest removal, for getting rid of pest problems that can’t be mitigated through the use of sprays.

  • Pest prevention, for sealing off entry points to prevent future pest intrusions.

Some providers, such as Aptive pest control may offer any or all of these services, but depending on your situation, you may not need each one. Be sure the services you enlist meet your needs without being upsold to offerings that aren’t strictly necessary.  

Each of these pest control services can carry out pest control tasks through a variety of different methods, including:

  • Chemical pest control, utilizing chemical products to poison or ward off pest infestations. This method can be harmful to humans, animals, and the environment (though it is sometimes necessary).

  • Organic pest control, a green option utilizing natural methods to eliminate pest problems without causing damage to other living creatures or the environment.

  • Biological pest control, another green option utilizing live predators to naturally target pests.

It’s important to always consider the environmental impact of a pest control service. One method that may decimate an obnoxious ant infestation could also wreak havoc on your plants, animals, and other natural resources. Whenever possible, consider organic or biological pest control methods to reduce the introduction of harmful environmental chemicals and provide a green experience.

How Do You Distinguish Between Pests and Other Creatures?

Pests are not necessarily the same as rodents, vermin, and other bothersome creatures:

  • Pests are often the insects that can invade a home or business, including (but not limited to) ants, bed bugs, and termites. Pests can also refer to obnoxious outdoor insects such as mosquitoes.

  • Vermin is a term often reserved for wild animals who invade a home or business, including (but not limited to) gophers, mice, and rats, as well as larger creatures like raccoons. Vermin are typically responsible for the spread of harmful diseases.

Many pest control services offer services to remediate both pests and vermin, but not all. Be sure to inquire about the specific services offered by your particular pest control provider.

Does the Pest Control Service You Choose Cover the Types of Pests You Have?

Not every pest control method works for every type of pest infestation. As with environmental concerns, employing the wrong pest control methods can adversely affect wildlife. Any qualified and reputable pest control service should steer away from methods that would have a greater impact than necessary.

Here are the preferred methods for most pest control services:

  • Insects, including (but not limited to) ants, centipedes, cockroaches, silverfish, and termites, can respond to a variety of chemical, organic, and biological pest control methods.

  • Vermin, including (but not limited to) gophers, mice, rats, and raccoons often respond to organic or biological pest control methods.

  • Harsh chemicals used against mammals can be considered unethical or cruel.

Pest control providers may offer a wide variety of services, but depending on your location or situation, the cost and availability of these services may vary:

  • Residential pest control services can handle common household infestations of pests and vermin.

  • Commercial pest control services can handle large-scale pest problems for businesses and corporate locations, including small businesses or large skyscrapers.

  • Wildlife control services can be used to handle special circumstances with vermin, large mammals, or high animal populations.

What Do Pest Control Services Typically Cost?

The cost of pest control services varies widely based on the type and frequency of the services requested.

For residential pest control services, here’s a breakdown of general costs for a typical visit:

  • One-time pest control visits can cost anywhere from $300 to $500, depending on the location, severity of the infestation, and the amount of time necessary to mitigate the problem.

Pest control services are also offered on a subscription basis, often involving a contract between the homeowner and pest control provider:

  • First-time contractual pest control visits often cost up to $200, covering a property’s pest assessment to identify potential entry points.

  • Monthly contractual pest control visits cost around $40.

  • Semi-monthly contractual pest control visits cost around $50.

  • Quarterly contractual pest control visits cost around $100.

The frequency of recurring pest control visits depends entirely on your property's circumstances. Keep in mind these prices are meant to accommodate the typical home; homes with more square footage or larger properties often incur additional fees.

Costs of commercial pest control services can vary based on the location and size of the particular infestation.

Does Pest Control Include any Sort of Service Guarantee?

Reputable pest control providers should offer service guarantees, assuring customers that issues with pests and vermin have been mitigated for a certain period of time.

Leading pest control providers, including major national pest control chains like Orkin, offer a 30-day service guarantee. Should pests return within 30 days, Orkin pest control experts will return to the scene and address the problem at no additional cost. In the event no solution is possible, Orkin offers customers a full refund.

Policies vary among providers, but 30- to 60-day service guarantees are industry standard. Be wary of pest control companies declining to offer a service guarantee—by not standing behind their services, they are either out to get extra money or not professional enough to ensure their technicians are capable of solving the problem.

How Should I Go About Choosing My Next Pest Control Provider?

Hiring a pest control expert isn’t a task that any home or business owner looks forward to. But by equipping yourself with the right knowledge to eliminate your pest control problem without overpaying or harming your home, your insect or rodent nightmare will draw to a fast close.

Here’s what you need to remember when hiring a pest control company:

  • Identify whether you need a pest exterminator, pest removal, or pest prevention services.

  • Do your best to know the types of pests that are infesting your property, whether they are insects or vermin.

  • Determine your preferred method of pest control, always opting for non-chemical solutions when possible.

  • Clarify whether your issue is related to pests or vermin. If the issue involves many large or wild animals, be prepared to hire wild animal control services.

  • Be prepared to spend anywhere from $200 to $600 depending on the severity of your pest problem. If pests are a recurring issue, a pest control contract to provide ongoing service is likely a good option.

  • Be sure your pest control provider offers a service guarantee, understanding the terms and conditions should pests return and further services be necessary.

Eradicating pests from a home or business may seem like a costly frustration. But by eliminating pesky creatures with professional help, you’ll keep your property safe, secure, and clean.

Top10.com Staff
Top10.com's editorial staff is a professional team of editors and writers with dozens of years of experience covering consumer, financial and business products and services.