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Choosing A Professional Pest Control Company

Example of inground Termite control ©Scott Bauer, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

Example of inground Termite control
©Scott Bauer, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

There are many sprays, dusts, and bait products on the market for homeowners to use to control pests. However, it is not always possible for homeowners to inspect and treat their own house without the proper equipment, training, and knowledge of pest behavior and nesting habits. In many cases, a pest management professional can solve a pest problem more safely and effectively than a homeowner. Today, most professionals use a wide variety of baits, targeted sprays, dusts, and nonchemical measures to control household and structural pests. This fact sheet will help you decide if you need a pest management professional and how to select the right company for your situation.

You may need the services of a professional to solve your pest problem if you have one of the following situations:

  • Termites. It is rare that a homeowner can adequately and safely treat termite infestations.
  • Bed bugs. Infestations of bed bugs can be very difficult to control without proper training and the diverse products or equipment needed to eliminate them.
  • The pests are potentially dangerous, like nesting wasps or hornets.
  • You don’t know what the pests are, where they are nesting, or how they are entering your home.
  • The pest infestation is in a sensitive area to treat, such as around food areas, electrical equipment, wells, or in rooms where infants, children, or the elderly spend a lot of time.
  • The pests are in a difficult area to treat such roofs, attics, chimneys, or crawlspaces.
  • You are unsure or worried about your ability to use insecticides properly.

If you decide that using a pest management professional is the right choice for you, get bids from two or three firms before contracting with one. Most companies will inspect your home free. Ask for recent, local references, and check with neighbors or friends about companies they may have used. Be wary of prices that seem “out of line,” especially those that are too low. A low price may mean low quality.

The professional you hire should identify your pest problem and areas of infestation. They should have a specific program or plan for control. For termites, the pest control operator should make a map of your house, highlighting areas where damage has been found and any structural or drainage problems. They should also note any areas that were not accessible for inspection. For bed bugs, a pest management professional should be experienced and use an integrated pest management approach. They also should provide you details of their inspection, preparation for treatment, and plan for additional treatments and inspections often needed for bed bug control.

Other important things to consider include:

  • Is the company licensed and certified in South Carolina? They must be to do work at your home.
  • Do they belong to professional associations such as the National Pest Control Association or the South Carolina Pest Control Association?  This can be an indication of a company’s dedication to good service.
  • Do they have specialized training, especially in treating termites? For example, have they received training at one of the termite technician schools offered by Clemson University?
  • What is their specialty? For example, do they have expertise in controlling your specific pest problem such as bed bugs or stinging pests?
  • What treatment options do they offer?  Do they use chemicals and nonchemical control methods? Do they monitor for pest problems, treating only when necessary?
  • What is their warranty? In particular, with termites, some firms limit their liability for damage done to your home by termites after treatment. Others exclude damage done by specific termites such as the Formosan subterranean termite.
  • Have they had regulatory actions taken against them due to violations? You can find out by calling the Department of Pesticide Regulation at (864) 646-2150 or visiting their website: https://www.clemson.edu/public/regulatory/pesticide-regulation/homeowners.html Reach an understanding before any work is started.  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.  Know the need for reinspections or retreatments.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions about costs.

Your home is probably the most expensive purchase you will ever make.  With a little time and knowledge, pest infestations and damage can be minimized or perhaps avoided entirely.  The right pest management professional for you can do an excellent job, provide regular inspections, and offer a warranty.

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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