Who You Gonna Call? Bug busters!
Not a Do-It-Yourself Proposition:
When the economy is tough, most consumers pare down their spending to the bone and resort increasingly to do-it-yourself options. While a good number of pest infestations might be manageable with over the counter pesticides, traps and home grown measures, termite infestation, more than any other pest control problem cries out for the services of the experts. Generally speaking by the time a termite problem is detected, the colony is huge and the damage extensive and it will take more than spraying some insecticide at the baseboards of your home to eradicate the problem. It is quite probably in the homeowner’s best interest to call a termite exterminator once the infestation is suspected and get the experts right on the problem before it can worsen.
That does not mean that the consumer should pick up the phone and call the first termite exterminator listed in the directory. A good understanding of what a termite exterminator does, how he is trained and what services are included in a standard package is just as important as knowing what the pest control process will ultimately cost or how soon the pest control man can come to your door. How to find a termite exterminator is just one of the issues involved.
Find an Exterminator: the RIGHT exterminator!
Any search for pest control services should be conducted in a reasoned manner, not a blind panic. Once a termite infestation has been discovered, the affected homeowner should set about doing research on the best service available immediately but with a level head. There are certain basic considerations and requirements for finding a professional service that will help guide the search.
Here are a few important points to consider:
• What kind of pests does the company deal with? Are they a multi pest control company or do they specialize in certain areas? Can they demonstrate a history of satisfied customers who have the same problem you do? A company that specializes in outdoor pests is probably not going to be the best choice for a structural termite problem, even though they might claim the ability handle any kind of problem you have. They should be able to prove it.
• Are the front line exterminators who will be doing the work experienced and knowledgeable? Can they document a proven ability to identify your pest problem and deal with it? Asking for particulars on training, past successful exterminations and testimonials by former clients should be part of the consumer’s due diligence when contracting for any profession service, doubly so with a termite exterminator service.
• Before you hire an exterminator, you should determine if they are licensed, bonded and insured and if not, strike them off the list. There may be many inexpensive options out there claiming expertise that they have not earned who will happily take your money and spray nothing stronger than water at your floorboards. The minimum requirements for a professional termite extermination service should be that they are licensed to operate in the state, that they possess further licenses/certifications in the use of certain pesticidal agents and that they can demonstrate the ability to handle those agents in accordance with state and federal environmental laws. Assurance that a company is bonded and insured is basic good sense and offers a measure of legal recourse, if the ultimate result is not satisfactory.
• What are the costs? Any reputable pest control service should be able to offer upfront quotes and estimates on a problem. Many offer initial phone or online estimates but these should also be followed up by an onsite visit that assesses the problem as it exists, not just as you believe or describe it to be. Once an infestation has been identified, any reputable company should be able to offer a schedule of services and their approximate costs.
• Do they offer a warranty or money back guarantees? If so be sure to read the fine print that comes along with all such and make sure the terms set forth in their policy are those you can ultimately live and work with. No extermination service can promise 100% success every single case and the reputable ones will not try, but they should offer an existing remedial process if their initial work is not successful.
What makes a good exterminator?
Anyone can strap on a can of bug and give a good impression of being a professional pest control specialist; having some understanding of the requirements of a termite exterminator in terms of training and experience, can insure that hire a good termite exterminator. The federal government has some guidelines for pest control specialists—and these should be considered minimum qualifications when it comes to hire an exterminator.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has jurisdiction over all pesticide applicators in the United States under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodentcide Act (FIFRA). Actual implementation of these regulations is left to each state which has a local agency responsible—usually a department of Agriculture or Environmental Protection Office—the requirements therefore may vary from state to state and the affected consumer should familiarize themselves with the state mandated qualifications as part of their search for an extermination service.
In general the following requirements apply to anyone holding a termite exterminator job:
• To become certified an exterminator must be 18 years of age; and in many states is required to have a documented history of having worked under the supervision of a certified person prior to becoming certified themselves.
• Must be of good character, possessing no convictions for environmental pollution or terrorism specifically. One need not have a squeaky clean record in most areas, but convictions in these areas will disqualify an applicant immediately.
• Will have at minimum a high school diploma or GED equivalent; increasingly most states require that an exterminator have completed a course of specialized, state approved training, which includes the safe handling of pesticides as part of its curriculum.
• Increasingly exterminators need to pass comprehensive testing which includes a “core” exam that evaluates knowledge of concepts common to all pesticide application, as well as a “category” exam which assesses proficiency in the type of pest control the exterminator wishes to specialize in. In the case of a termite exterminator, this test would evaluate the knowledge acquired in the eradication of termites specifically. These exams also test record keeping, reading comprehension (for pesticide labels and warnings), competency at mathematics as applied to mixing and applying chemicals as well as emergency containment procedures in case of spills and other accidents.
• Most states increasingly have requirements that exterminators complete mandatory continuing education or re-testing for license renewal.
Bottom line-there is no cheap fix to termite infestation!
Termite infestations are responsible for economic damage in the tens of billions of dollars each year in the United States alone, and as with any lucrative problem, there will always be less than honest folk stepping forward to promise a great outcome at a seemingly unbelievable price. Because most of us will never have a bigger financial investment than our homes, it is in our best interests to make sure that the services we engage are fully competent to perform the work we hire them for. The value of an exterminator service may be counted as cheap at twice the price if the work contracted is performed in accordance with all safety and health laws and in a competent and thorough professional manner. It isn’t just a matter of exterminator cost—but the preservation of our homes in a livable condition that should determine the final cost we are prepared to pay.