How to Choose a Pest Control, Management, and Elimination Company

Know What to Look For

Pest control technician using portable spray rig
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When you need to find a company to get rid of ants, mice, cockroaches, or other pests in your home, you are likely to see many different company names and descriptions, such as XY Pest Control, YZ Pest Management, ZX Pest Elimination, YX Pest Solutions ...?

What's the difference? And which is best? Does anyone even use the term exterminator anymore?

Like any industry, pest control has its buzzwords and jargon. Although services will vary company to company, the words in the company's name are not usually the best way to make your selection. Rather the words elimination, management, solutions, etc. are often selected as much as a marketing tool as any indication of the company's service program.

From Pest Extermination to Control to Management

In fact, the industry's national association has changed its name three times since its founding for that very reason:

  • The industry association was founded in 1933 as the National Association of Exterminators and Fumigators.
  • Its name was changed to the National Pest Control Association (NPCA) in 1937 to promote a more professional feel.
  • In 1999, the association voted to again update its name to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), for a more positive and consumer-friendly image.

Many newer pest "management"/"elimination" companies selected their names for the same reasons, and older companies may update their names as well. On the other hand, some long-time companies, have kept their names as is, using terms such as "control" or "exterminators," not caring if others see them as outdated.

How to Choose a Pest Control Company

So, to go back to the first question: What's the difference? Although some companies may want people to believe that they are different because their name says they will eliminate pests (instead of other names that say the simply control them), homeowners are best to follow a slight spin on the age-old adage: "Don't judge a company by its name."

Instead, in answer to the second question (Which company is best?), the best way to select a company is to conduct research prior to allowing anyone into your home, and, especially, before signing a contract:

  1. Ask trusted friends and neighbors for referrals. That way you will be working with a company that has proven its value to someone you know.
  2. Check out the company's website. Although this, too, is a marketing tool, most companies will include information about their services, pest-specific options, history, and, of course, contact information.
  3. Contact the company and ask questions. Describe your problem and listen to what they say. If you are not comfortable with the answers, or you feel that any of your questions are being dodged, you should check around with other companies to get at least a couple other opinions and options.
  4. Ask the company if it is licensed, bonded, and insured; and its technicians certified. All technicians must be state-certified and licensed and should carry these documents with them as well.
  5. Get an inspection. Prior to starting any service (and generally before even quoting anything more than a "ballpark" price), a company associate should come out to your home or business and conduct an inspection, identify the pest(s), and explain what the service will include and why.

    A great place to start in choosing a pest control company is the NPMA website, which includes a number of tools for consumers, including "Find a Pro," pest facts, and tips for selecting a service provider.