Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Pest Control Service in Los Angeles
Pest sightings are fairly common in homes in US metropolitan areas - 14 percent of households in the Los Angeles report frequent roach sightings in their homes in the last 12 months. This is more than the national average, which stands at 11.3 percent. Hiring a properly licensed exterminator provides you with a measure of confidence that your pest control service will be provided professionally and in compliance with the EPA's pesticide application standards.
To ensure that you hire a pest control service that is qualified to rid your home of pests, always ask the following questions:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as an Exterminator in Los Angeles?
- Are You Registered with the California State Pest Control Association?
- How Much Do You Charge for Pest Control Services and Why?
- Do You Comply with the City of Los Angeles Regulations for Pesticide Application?
- What Type of Pest Control Method Are You Using?
- What Household Pests Do You Control?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Exterminators in Los Angeles?
- How to File a Complaint Against a
- Choosing Between Local Pest Control Firms and Large National Chains: The Pros and Cons
Per the provisions of the California Structural Pest Control Act, individuals in Los Angeles that wish to provide services related to the control of household pests and wood-destroying pests and organisms must obtain a license from the state's Structural Pest Control Board (SPCB). Failure to comply with this licensing requirement is considered a misdemeanor offense and is punishable by fines of up to $5,000, county jail imprisonment of up to six months, or a combination of fines and imprisonment.
The Structural Pest Control Board categorizes pest control services into three branches, namely:
- Branch 1: this involves controlling household and wood-destroying pests or organisms through the use of fumigation with lethal or poisonous gases
- Branch 2: this involves controlling household pests through any means that excludes fumigation with lethal or poisonous gases
- Branch 3: this involves controlling wood-destroying pests or organisms through the use of insecticides, structural repairs and corrections, and other similar means that exclude fumigation with lethal or poisonous gases
The board also issues three different types of licenses to interested parties, each of which authorizes the licensee to perform certain pest control service:
- Applicator License: this is the board's entry-level license and it authorizes the holder to provide services aimed at eliminating, exterminating, controlling, or preventing pest or organisms infestations or infections by applying pesticides, rodenticides, and other allied chemicals or substances. Note that holders of this license can only provide Branch 2 and Branch 3 pest control services and this work must be done on behalf of a registered pest control company. Thus, they cannot contract for work on their own behalf
- Field Executive License: holders of this license are authorized to identify infestations or infections, make inspections, submit bids on behalf of a registered company, and also provide pest control services in all three of the board's pest control branches. However, this work must be done on behalf of a registered pest control company and they are not authorized to contract or perform pest control work on their own behalf
- Operator License: individuals with this license type are authorized to perform any type of pest control work. The key difference between this license type and the Field Executive License is that individuals that hold Operator Licenses can own and operate their own pest control company or act as qualifying managers for another owner
To obtain any of these licenses from the SPCB, interested parties will be required to complete and submit an appropriate Examination Application Form, or a Re-Examination Form for individuals that have taken the examination within six months, to:Structural Pest Control Board
2005 Evergreen Street
Sacramento, CA 95815
Submitted applications are reviewed by the board, following which applicants will be provided instructions for scheduling an examination time and date. Note that parties that wish to apply for an Operator License must also submit proof of completion of all required board approved pre-operator courses. Likewise, the payment of an examination fee is typically required, regardless of the type of license that is being applied for. Queries related to the SPCB's licensing procedures and requirements can be directed to its Licensing Unit at (916) 561-8704.
It should be noted that individuals that wish to provide non-household pest control services or apply state or federally-restricted pesticides are typically required to undergo a separate certification or licensing process with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR). Inquiries concerning this process can be directed to the DPR's Licensing and Certification Office at (916) 445-4038.
Always confirm that your intended exterminator possesses an appropriate license before they commence any pest control activities in your home. You can do this online via the SPCB's Search for a License webpage. You can equally confirm that your exterminator has been properly certified or licensed to provide non-household pest control services by accessing the DPR's List of Licensees.
In addition to ensuring that your intended Los Angeles exterminator possesses a valid state-issued pest control license, or has been state-certified where applicable, it is also a good idea to look out for membership with the Pest Control Operators of California (PCOC). Exterminators that are members of this association are bound by a Code of Ethics, and also typically have access to ongoing education opportunities, better insurance options, and regular consumer relations training. All of these translate into better service delivery for homeowners that hire them and also provide these homeowners with an additional avenue for mediation in situations where they are unsatisfied with the work done by the exterminator.
In some cases, members of this association may also belong to the National Pest Management Association, to gain access to a wider array of educational and business resources. You can find exterminators in the City of Los Angeles that are members of the Pest Control Operators of California via the association's Operator Search portal. Note that you should always request and validate proof of membership from any exterminators in the city that claim to be members of this association.
Finding out exactly how much you will be charged for your required pest control service before any work starts is necessary to avoid misunderstandings down the road. Per figures published by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, pest control workers in the Los Angeles area earn average hourly wages of $20.91. Nonetheless, the amount of money that these professionals charge for their services is usually influenced by certain factors, which include:
- The type of pests involved
- The size of the area where the work has to be done
- The level of infestation
- The frequency of visits required
To ensure that you get a fair rate for your pest control service, it is advisable to provide at least three different exterminators in the city with the same parameters for the job and get cost estimates from these professionals. Compare these estimates and decide on the one that is best suited to your budget. Note that you should never automatically hire the exterminator with the lowest estimate, as some unscrupulous individuals deliberately provide low bids to scam unsuspecting homeowners.
Pest control workers in Los Angeles earn an average annual wage of $43,490. The list below compares the average hourly wages of this category of professionals in the city with those in other parts of the State of California and other locations across the United States:
Several state and local-level laws and regulations, such as the Structural Pest Control Act, Division 6 of the California Food and Control Code, and Section 41.34 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code, control the use and application of pesticides in Los Angeles. Making sure that your intended exterminator is conversant with these laws is important in ensuring that your pest control work is done properly and also helps you avoid the penalties that are typically associated with the violations of these laws. Some key requirements of these laws and regulations include:
- The mandatory licensing of individuals that provide household pest control services by the state's Structural Pest Control Board
- The licensing or certification of individuals and businesses that provide non-household pest control services, including the application of pesticides in residential, industrial, and institutional areas, by the state's Department of Pesticide Regulation
- The provision of notices to tenants of apartments, duplexes, or other multi-family dwellings where pesticides are to be applied before this application. In situations of fumigation applications, this notice must be provided at least 48 hours before the application
You can get additional information or make inquiries concerning the specific pesticide regulations that may apply to your required pest control service by contacting the California Department of Pesticide Regulation or the California Structural Pest Control Board at (916) 445-3976 and (916) 561-8700 respectively. Queries can also be directed to the Los Angeles 311 Call Center by calling 311, (213) 473-3231, or via email.
Before hiring any exterminators in Los Angeles, you should find out the type of pest control method that they will be using and make sure that this method is suitable for ridding your home of its pest infestation. The most common types of pest control methods that are used by exterminators in the city are:
- Organic Pest Control: this method is suitable for limiting the damage caused by pests while also ensuring that other animals and plants in the area are not affected, and it includes the use of baits, traps, or sprays. Note that the most effective organic pesticides contain one or more of these natural substances:
- Neem oil,
- Boric acid,
- Kaolin Clay,
- Diatomaceous earth,
- Bacillus thuringiensis, or
Some of the leading organic pest control products used by professionals include:
- Wondercide All-Purpose Organic Home & Garden Insect Control
- Eco Defense Organic Home Pest Control Spray
- EcoRaider Ant & Crawling Insect Killer
- EcoSmart Ant & Roach Killer
- Verdana Cold-Pressed Organic Neem Oil
- Essentria IC3
While organic products are child- and pet-safe, they are not effective to eradicate a broad range of pests like chemical-based products.
- Chemical Pest Control: this is a more effective method than organic pest control, and it involves the use of chemical pesticides, which can come in solid, liquid, or aerosol form. The major active ingredients you will find on products used by exterminators for chemical pest control in indoor areas include fipronil, malathion, hydramethylnon, indoxacarb, imidacloprid, acephate, carbaryl, boric acid, and permethrin. Some top products employed by professionals for chemical pest control in the home include:
- Bifen IT Concentrate
- Suspend SC Concentrate
- Termidor SC Concentrate
- CimeXa Insecticide Dust
- BioAdvanced 3-in-1 Insect Disease & Mite Control
- Bonide (BND952) Insect Control Systemic Granules
- Natria 706230A Insecticidal Soap Organic Miticide
- Trifecta Crop Control Super Concentrate All-in-One
- Bonide (BND253) - Captain Jack's Dead Bug Brew
Note that pesticides can be hazardous to humans and other living organisms in the area, and as such, they require expert application to properly mitigate these hazards
- Biological Pest Control: this method involves introducing another living organism - predators, parasitoids, and pathogens - to an area for the sole purpose of controlling its rodent population. Such living organisms are considered natural enemies to the targeted pests. For example, lady beetles and lacewings may be introduced to control mites, aphids, and ants infestations. Note, a lot of human intervention is needed for successful biological pest control. While this is an environmentally safe method of pest control, its effectiveness is largely dependent on introducing the using the right pest-controlling species under the correct conditions
- Electronic Pest Control: this involves using devices that emit electromagnetic and ultrasonic signals to repel rodents and insects from an area. Some of the top electronic pest control devices used by pest control professionals include Avantaway, Rostermark, Pest Soldier, Zovenhci, MaxMoxie, Cleanrth CR008, Neatmaster, and Victor M756K.
Hiring a properly licensed exterminator is the best way to ensure that the most effective pest control method is applied to your specific situation. You can find licensed exterminators in Los Angeles via online directories provided by the Pest Control Operators of California and the Better Business Bureau. Note that, depending on the type of pest problem that you are facing, your exterminator may recommend a combination of two or more of these methods.
Pest control services can be broadly grouped into three categories, namely pest extermination, pest removal, and pest prevention. As the names imply, pest extermination and removal involve getting rid of existing pest infestations, while pest prevention involves taking steps to ensure that the pests never enter your home in the first place. In addition, while many exterminators in the city are equipped to provide pest control services across a wide array of pests, some of these professionals may only offer services that lean towards specific types of pests.
Therefore, you should always confirm the types of household pests that exterminators specialize in controlling, as well as the types of pest control services that they provide, before finalizing any hiring arrangements with them. Listed below are cost estimates for pest control services per one-time visit of exterminators in Los Angeles, based on the type of pests involved:
Note that, depending on the nature of the pest infestation, you may require multiple treatments and exterminator visits.
In 2020, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported four fatal and 2,820 nonfatal on-the-job injuries amongst pest control workers across the country. Hiring an exterminator that carries adequate general liability insurance, and workers compensation insurance where applicable, ensures that you stay financially and legally protected under circumstances where property damage or bodily injury occurs as a result of your required pest control service.
To this end, the California Structural Pest Control Board (SPCB) requires that all licensed exterminators in Los Angeles meet certain insurance and bonding requirements before they can legally operate. These requirements include:
- Maintaining a liability insurance policy of a minimum of $500,000 to cover any single loss due to bodily injury, sickness, or disease, including death, sustained by any person during the provision of a pest control service
- Maintaining a liability insurance policy of a minimum of $500,000 to cover any single loss due to injury or destruction of property, including the loss of use of the property in question, during the provision of a pest control service
- Maintaining an indemnity bond of $12,500
Always request proof of insurance and bonding from your intended exterminator and contact the issuing organizations to validate this proof and confirm that its coverage limits are adequate for the scope of your project. Note that pest control businesses that are licensed by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) may be required to meet additional liability insurance requirements. Also, per state law, any exterminator or pest control business that has employees must carry workers' compensation insurance for these employees. Queries concerning Los Angeles exterminator and pest control business insurance requirements can be directed to the SPCB by calling (916) 561-8704. Additional inquiries can also be made by contacting the DPR at (916) 445-4038 and the Los Angeles office of the California Division of Workers' Compensation at (213) 576-7389.
You would not be able to seek redress against exterminators who failed to complete your job satisfactorily with local authorities in the City of Los Angeles. However, you can file your complaint with the California Structural Pest Control Board.
In September 2020, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) announced that it had taken disciplinary actions against a pest control company that had violated several pesticide laws and regulations whilst providing services across several counties in the state. Likewise, according to the California Attorney General's 2021 Annual Report on Accusations Prosecuted for Department of Consumer Affairs Client Agencies, 69 accusation matters were referred to it by the Structural Pest Control Board (SPCB) during the 2019-20 fiscal year.
While there are many legitimate pest control businesses in Los Angeles, there is also the possibility that you may come across an unscrupulous exterminator during your search for suitable pest control services. Some common techniques that unscrupulous exterminators and pest control businesses in the city utilize to scam unsuspecting homeowners include:
- Sending untrained or unlicensed exterminators for jobs
- Going door-to-door offering free rodent inspections and suddenly discovering proof that the homeowner requires urgent pest control services. In many instances, this proof is planted by the exterminator
- Failing to provide clear written contracts for their services
- Claiming to use green pesticides, charging premium rates for these services, and then using regular pesticides
Taking the following steps when hiring an exterminator in Los Angeles can help you avoid falling victim to the actions of fraudulent exterminators in the city:
- Never hire door-to-door exterminators. Research the type of pest problem you have and the best types of methods for controlling it
- Get recommendations from friends and family on reputable exterminators that they have used. You can also get referrals to reputable exterminators in Los Angeles from the Better Business Bureau and the Pest Control Operators of California
- Get cost estimates from multiple exterminators. Make sure that they inspect the affected area before providing these estimates
- Confirm that your preferred exterminator possesses a valid SPCB-issued license. If your required service involves non-household pest control, then also make sure that the exterminator has been properly licensed or certified by the Department of Pesticide Regulation
- Make sure that your preferred exterminator is properly insured and bonded
- Find out the types of pesticides that will be used for the job and how they will be applied
- Request references of past clients from the exterminator and contact them to get reviews on the effectiveness of their services
- Request a written contract for the job and make sure that it includes the exterminator's contact details, the nature and length of the pest control service, the cost of this service, and a guarantee of its effectiveness. Review this contract properly before signing it and ensure that the exterminator sticks to its terms and conditions
- Never pay the full cost of your required service upfront
You can file complaints concerning the actions of bad exterminators in Los Angeles by calling the California Structural Pest Control Board at (916) 561-8708 or by completing and mailing a consumer complaint form to this board at:Structural Pest Control Board
2005 Evergreen Street
Sacramento, CA 95815
Note that complaints must be filed with this board no later than two years after the incident in question occurred.
Pesticide-related problems can also be reported to the Los Angeles County Agricultural Commissioner's Office at (626) 575-5471 and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation at (916) 324-4100.
Even after checking all the boxes with regards to the reputation, licenses, certifications, specialties, methods, and coverage of the pest control firms you are considering, the decision to hire an exterminator may still be a tricky choice. At this point, usually, most people are stuck between hiring a local exterminator or a big firm like Orkin, Terminix, Arrow Exterminators, Hawx, Ehrlich, Bulwark, Aptive, Mosquito Joe, Truly Nolen, and Viking for pest control in their home or office. However, weighing the pros and cons of using a local or a big nationwide brand in the light of the factors discussed below may be helpful in making a credible choice: