FIND A PEST CONTROL COMPANY: NARROWING YOUR BEST OPTIONS
According to Andy Architect of the National Pest Management Association, there are more that 19,000 pest management firms operating in the United States. Unfortunately, these companies are not all created equally. Here are some steps from entomologist, Jeff White, to narrow your options and find the best:
- Use web and telephone directories to locate several pest management firms in your area. Some may designate themselves as bed bug specialists, but this designation should only be an indicator and not a deciding factor.
- Only utilize companies that have been registered to apply pesticides by the pesticide regulatory agency in your state. Lacking this license should serve as an immediate red flag. To find your state’s agency visit: http://npic.orst.edu/state1.htm.
- Search for companies that use integrated pest management (IPM) services. IPM is a form of pest management designed to minimize the use of pesticides. Companies that utilize an IPM approach are more likely to provide ongoing monitoring and a multidisciplinary approach to bed bug management (more on this later).
INTERVIEWING COMPANIES: QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD KNOW TO ASK
Once you hire a pest management firm they may be entering your home and spraying pesticides or performing services that can cost hundreds of dollars. Interviewing the selected companies is not only your right, it is strongly advised.
Ask companies about their membership in recognized national, state, and local pest control associations. Membership to these associations requires periodic evaluation of their pest management protocols as well as ethical business practices. Some key associations to look for include:
- The National Pest Management Association (NPMA), state pest management associations, QualityPro, the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and bedbugFREE. Companies may also be members of equivalent associations.
- Membership with the bedbugFREE national network is a particularly important affiliation to consider when bed bug treatments are desired. This membership indicates that companies are not only members of NPMA and/or QualityPro, but have also had their bed bug treatment protocols evaluated to ensure they share multidisciplinary treatment methods and philosophies similar to Bed Bug Central’s protocol.
Ask companies about their integrated pest management (IPM) approach to bed bug treatments. A good company should utilize some, if not all, of these procedures:
- Use of a multidisciplinary approach beyond pesticides such as: vacuuming, cleaning, steaming, using mattress encasements instead of treating beds with pesticides, heat or Cryonite treatments, and/or fumigation.
- Insist on inspecting before quoting a final price.
- Price jobs according to findings and not just a flat fee.
- Educate you on bed bugs, the company’s inspection findings, what they will be doing, and prevention.
- Provide a written inspection report and a strategy for services rendered.
- Provide a thorough follow up program that is not based upon a minimum number of visits but rather is based upon the current status of the bed bug activity. Follow ups should continue until control or elimination is achieved.
- Inquire if children or pets are present and adjust their treatment protocol and use of pesticides accordingly.
- Have a well-defined methodology for determining when an infestation has been eliminated.
- Work with property managers to notify adjacent apartments about the problem and recommend including surrounding units for inspections and treatments.
THINGS YOU SHOULD DO:
CUSTOMER COMPLIANCE IS HALF THE BATTLE
Comply with a company’s recommendations. When treating for bed bugs, companies will often recommend follow up actions customers can take to enhance the treatment process. Do your part and follow these recommendations.
- Ask about the company’s treatment plan options and agree on a pricing structure. Bed bugs can be a pricey pest to eliminate so the cheapest service is rarely the best.
- Walk your home with the pest management professional during each visit to keep track of what work is being done.
- Ask the pest control professional to point out any conditions that may undermine bed bug control efforts and ask for recommendations to be included in a written inspection report.
- Know what you and the company are each responsible for, if repairs are not in the agreement you should be provided with a list of items needed to resolve the issue.
- Finally, educate yourselves! Education may be the most valuable tool in the fight against bed bugs in both prevention and treatment. There is an excellent bed bug information resource available at Bed Bug Central called Bed Bugs 101.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: TO MAKE FINDING YOUR WAY EASIER
To simplify this task, Bed Bug Central has created a website directory of like-minded pest management firms in the United States and Canada that share a similar philosophy and approach to bed bug management known as the bedbugFREE network. Follow the link to view members of the bedbugFREE network.