There are many pests for which homeowners can be a DIY'r for pest control. But there are some pests and pest incidents that are better handled by pest control professionals, such as most instances of termite and bed bug infestations. And there will be other times that you would simply prefer to hire a professional, or even contract for regular service.
So, when you do need a professional, what can and should you expect?
Following are 10 things that you should expect from any pest control company:
- Pre-service. If applicable, prior to the day of service, you should be informed of any preparation you may have to do to enable service to be performed. This could include cleaning, clearing specified areas, removing pets, storing/covering foods, planning to keep children out of the area during service, etc.
- On-time arrival. As with any service professional, a specific time or time range should be given, and you should be able to expect that the technician will arrive within a reasonable period of the scheduled time. Or, if he or she has been delayed for any reason, you should receive a phone call about the delay, time of expected arrival – and the option to reschedule if that no longer fits your schedule.
- Clean, neat appearance and equipment. Every pest control technician should arrive looking professional in neat clothing with clean equipment. Pesticide dripping down the side of a sprayer will likely drip across your home as well.
- Show identification. If this is the first time the technician has serviced your home (or each time if you prefer), he or she should be able to show company identification, with photograph, so that you feel comfortable allowing him or her to enter your home.
- Pre-service communication. Before beginning service, the technician should discuss the situation with you, asking: What is the pest problem for which you need service? What pests have you seen? Where have you seen them? It can be beneficial to walk around the home and/or property with the technician to show him or her what was seen and where. At this time, or following the next step (Inspection & Identification), the technician should communicate the treatment to be made, products to be used, etc. This is also a good time to ask any questions you may have about the service and products to be used.
- Inspection & Identification. The service professional should then conduct an inspection for the pests and signs of pest presence. He/she should inspect the sites you discussed and other areas where the pest is likely to be and look for any potential contributing or conducive conditions. The inspection should also include positive identification of the pest, in order for correct treatment to be made. If the service technician did not discuss proposed treatment and products prior to this, or if anything found during the technician's inspection causes a change in the treatment plan, he/she should again communicate with you to explain the treatment to be performed and products to be used, and discuss any questions or concerns you may have.
- Treatment. Based on all the above, the technician will perform the applicable service, ideally conducted with an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach.
- Post-service communication/Recommendations. Once treatment has been made, the technician should again communicate with you: telling you what has been done – where, why, and how; noting any precautions you may need to take (e.g., when pets and children may return); answering any further questions you may have; and making recommendations for any action you need to take and/or follow up they will make. For example, if mice were the issue, the technician may recommend areas where gaps need to be sealed, screens mended, etc.
- Service Report. In addition to discussing the information with you, the service technician should provide you with a written service report (similar to those provided for an automotive service), noting (again) what was done where, when, how and why. It should also include contact information and any recommendations.
- Follow up, if needed. For some pests, such as bed bugs, elimination cannot be achieved in a single visit. Thus, you should be informed of any further service that will be needed and any other follow-up that is required or recommended.