Looking for a pest control professional?

Tips for hiring pest control around your home and landscape

You as a homeowner can often manage household pests through a combination of preventive measures. These include proper sanitation and using over-the-counter pesticides. However, some pest infestations may be extensive or a particular pest may be difficult to control. This could require the services of a pest control professional (PCP). Selecting a PCP should be like choosing any other service: look at value for the dollar spent. When you are using pesticides, cost should not be the only factor that determines which PCP you use. First and Foremost, the applicator that you hire must be licensed by the New Mexico Department of Agriculture. It is also important to ensure that the PCP you select is competent. This is because both health and property can be damaged through the misuse of pesticides.

Take Your Time

When most people discover a pest problem, they want the pest eliminated immediately. However, most pest problems can wait a few days so you have time to select a competent, reasonably-priced PCP. It is wise to obtain estimates from at least two PCPs; many will provide free estimates.

Purchase Pest Control Services from a Competent Firm

To help in the selection of a pest control service, ask the following questions:

  1. Will the person performing the services be licensed? Each individual who handles pesticides must be licensed by NMDA and should show you his or her license.
  2. Would you provide me with a list of references? Contact several references to find out if they are satisfied with the service provided by the PCP.
  3. How many years have you been in business at your present location? Contact NMDA and other organizations like the Better Business Bureau or the Attorney General’s office. This will help determine if complaints have been filed against the PCP and determine the status of the complaints.
  4. Are you a member of the New Mexico Pest Management Association? This organization promotes professionalism and training in the pest control industry.
  5. Would you provide me with copies of labels for all pesticides that will be used? Pesticide labels will indicate how the product should be applied and what precautions must be taken.

Beware of firms or individuals that . . .

. . . want to do pest control as part of a package deal — such as general home repair or tree trimming. — Those who offer a special price if treatment is done immediately.

. . . do not have a listed or working telephone number.

. . . arrive at your door with bugs they have found in your neighbor’s house and proclaim a neighborhood pest problem.

. . . sell services door-to-door. If you purchase something over $25 away from the seller’s place of business you may cancel the purchase. You may cancel the purchase within 3 days. This includes at your home

. . . quote a per gallon price. Termite control jobs can require several hundred gallons of dilute insecticide.

. . . claim to have a special “secret” formula. Secret formulas are illegal. All products used for pest control must be registered. This is done by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the New Mexico Department of Agriculture.

. . . try to panic you into immediately signing a contract. This may be done by suggesting your house is structurally unsound as a result of a pest infestation.

. . . target the elderly or infirm, especially those living alone.

. . . claim to have excess material left from a previous job and offer a reduced price for immediate treatment.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Know the Terms of Your Service Contract

Some PCPs offer service contracts in which structures are routinely treated for a particular pest. These contracts may be necessary in some situations, such as a warehouse constantly receiving cartons that may contain cockroaches. In general, routine applications of pesticides are not a good idea unless there is a constant infestation. Consider if non-chemical methods have failed to control the pest. Service contracts for the homeowner should include periodic inspections. However, pesticides should not be applied unless the pests are actually present.

It is customary for termite control work to be guaranteed from one to five years. Make sure you know exactly what the guarantee covers and determine if there is a yearly inspection charge. In addition, find out if the PCP is responsible for structural damage. Do this if the treatment fails to control the termite infestation. Remember, the guarantee is only as reliable as the company that offers it. For more information on termite control options go to Termites and Termite Control for Homeowners.

Finally, Do Your Part!

The PCP may ask you to do certain things before, during or after the pesticide application. If the PCP asks you to remove personal items from the floor or empty kitchen cabinets, then do so. Make sure you have this done before they arrive. Do not allow children or pets into areas treated with pesticide sprays until the spray has dried. Aquariums should be removed from the treatment site or covered with heavy plastic and the air pump turned off. If the PCP suggests nonchemical methods of pest control in addition to the pesticides, be sure to follow the instructions. Good cooperation between the homeowner and the PCP will help eliminate pests and reduce the use of pesticides.