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Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Pest Control Service in Boston

Household pests are a common problem for residents of Boston, and approximately 19 percent of homeowners in the area report frequent rodent sightings, which is higher than the national average of 11.9 percent. Hiring a licensed and experienced exterminator not only mitigates the disease transmission and structural damages that these household pests typically cause but also ensures that all pesticide applications in your home are performed properly, carefully, and with minimal risk to your health. However, to ensure that you hire professional pest control services in the city that can safely identify and resolve your home's pest problems, always ask the following questions:

Are You Licensed to Practice as an Exterminator in Boston?

The licensing and regulation of exterminators and pest control companies that operate in Boston is handled at the state level by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR). This department offers five licensing and certification options to eligible parties, namely:

  • Applicator License: this license is required by individuals that wish to provide services that involve the use of general-use pesticides and have never obtained an MDAR-issued pesticide license before or had licenses that have been expired for five years or more
  • Private Certification: this certification is required by individuals that intend to use restricted-use pesticides to produce agricultural commodities on property that is either owned or rented by them or their employer
  • Commercial Certification: this certification is required by individuals that wish to use restricted-use pesticides for hire. Note that exterminators that wish to obtain this certification must have held a valid MDAR-issued Applicator License for at least two years
  • Dealer License: this license is required by individuals that wish to sell restricted-use pesticides
  • Catch Basin Permit: this permit is required by municipal, state, or federal government employees that wish to treat catch basins or storm drains that contain mosquito larvae

Interested parties that wish to obtain MDAR-issued licenses or certifications will be required to take the following steps:

  • Register for an examination online via the department's EEA ePlace Portal. Note that first-time registrants will be required to create a user account on this portal
  • Pay all stipulated fees
  • Sit for and pass a department-administered examination. Note that this examination is also conducted online
  • Submit an appropriate license application, and proof of insurance where applicable, online via the EEA ePlace Portal

Applicants that successfully complete these steps typically receive their requested licenses from the MDAR via email. Inquiries concerning the MDAR's pesticide examination, licensing, and certification process can be directed to the department via email or by calling (508) 281-6787. It should be noted that providing pest control services in Boston without appropriate licensing or certification is considered unlawful. Per the provisions of Section 14 of the Massachusetts Pesticide Control Act, violators can face punishments of up to $25,000 in fines, imprisonment of up to two years, or a combination of both.

You can search for and confirm the licensing and certification status of exterminators in Boston online via the EEA ePlace Public Access Portal that the State of Massachusetts provides and maintains for this purpose.

Are You Registered with the Massachusetts Pest Control Association?

After confirming that your intended exterminator has been properly licensed or certified by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, you should also find out if they belong to the New England Pest Management Association (NEPMA). The NEPMA is the premier pest control association in Boston, and membership with this association typically indicates competence and professionalism on the part of the exterminator. Some advantages that come with hiring members of the NEPMA for your pest control service include:

  • Members of the NEPMA are held to high professional standards, which translate into optimal service delivery
  • Members of the NEPMA typically undergo background checks, thereby providing you with a measure of confidence that your pest problems will be handled by a legitimate exterminator
  • Members of the NEPMA have access to education, training, and technical resources on relevant pest control methods and technologies
  • Members of the NEPMA typically have access to better insurance options

The NEPMA provides interested parties with access to an online directory that you can use to search for member exterminators that operate in Boston when looking to hire pest control services in the city. Note that while the NEPMA is the leading pest control association in Boston, some exterminators in the city may also belong to other associations like the National Pest Management Association. To this end, it is always in your best interest to confirm that your intended exterminator belongs to a reputable pest control association by requesting proof of this membership and authenticating it with the relevant association. You should also look up the association online to determine its reputation in the pest control industry.

How Much Do You Charge for Pest Control Services and Why?

Data published by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that pest control workers that operate in the Boston area earn an average wage of $24.59 hourly. Nevertheless, you should always find out exactly how much you will be charged for your required pest control services and make sure that you agree on these rates before your exterminator begins any pest control work in your home.

It is also advisable to get and compare rates from several exterminators in the city before selecting one best suited to your budget. Make sure that these exterminators inspect the infested areas before coming up with their rates and look out for exterminators with rates that differ significantly from the others. Request an explanation for these price differences and cross out any exterminator that cannot provide a satisfactory explanation from your list of potential hires. Note that the rates you will be given for your requested pest control services in Boston are typically affected by several factors, some of which include:

  • The type of pests involved
  • The severity of your pest infestation
  • The size of the infested area
  • The types of pest control methods and pest control materials to be used
  • The labor intensity of the job
  • The frequency of required pest control treatments
  • Your location within the city
  • The exterminator's level of experience and reputation

Pest control workers in Boston earn an average annual wage of $51,140. 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 Massachusetts and other locations across the United States:

Boston Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$24.59
Springfield Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$21.85
Worcester Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$22.61
Cambridge Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$24.59
Barnstable Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$23.14
New York City Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$21.35
Los Angeles pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$20.91
Chicago Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$19.05
Houston Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$19.30

Do You Comply with the City of Boston Regulations for Pesticide Application?

The use, application, and regulation of pesticides and pesticide-related activities in the City of Boston are governed by Title 333 of the Code of Massachusetts Regulations (333 CMR) and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. Any exterminator you hire in the city must be familiar with the provisions of these laws, as this can go a long way in ensuring that your pest problems are resolved successfully and legally. Some key requirements of these laws that must be adhered to during the provision of pest control services in Boston include:

  • All pesticides that are to be used in the city must be registered with the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR). This is regardless of whether or not they have been federally registered
  • Any individual that wishes to apply pesticides in the city must be properly licensed or certified by the MDAR before doing so
  • Individuals that wish to sell or distribute restricted-use pesticides in the city must be licensed by the MDAR. These restricted-use pesticides must also be only sold or distributed to properly certified persons or competent individuals acting under the directed supervision of these certified persons
  • Pesticides must be stored and disposed of per label requirements and all applicable rules provided by the MDAR
  • Written notices must be provided at least two working days before pesticides are sprayed, released, deposited, or applied in schools, child care centers, and school-age child care programs. The pesticide applications must also be concluded no later than 72 hours after the approximate application date provided in the notices

You can reach out to the Pesticide Program of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) at (617) 626-1776 to get more information on the laws and regulations that govern pesticide use and application in Boston. You can also get information on this subject by contacting the MDAR's Boston office at:

251 Causeway Street
Suite 500
Boston, MA 02114-2151
Phone: (617) 626-1700

What Type of Pest Control Method Are You Using?

The type of pest control methods used by your preferred exterminator is another important factor that determines their suitability to deliver satisfactory pest control services. Professional exterminators in Boston typically combine several types of pest control methods and techniques to ensure the effective and safe treatment, management, and control of pest infestations in the city. These methods are:

  • Biological control: biological pest control methods use living organisms like predators, pathogens, and parasites to limit or suppress pest growth in a target area. Examples of biological pest control are the use of lacewings to control aphid infestations and the use of cats to control rodent populations in target areas
  • Cultural control: cultural pest control methods entail making changes to a target area that makes this space uninhabitable or hostile to pests. Common examples of these changes or modifications include improving sanitary conditions and erecting barriers that prevent pests from entering the target space
  • Physical control: physical pest control methods use baits, alarms, electromagnetic and ultrasonic emitters, traps, and other similar devices and equipment to detect, prevent, repel, and eliminate pests in a target area. Examples of devices and equipment used in this pest control method are Pest Soldier, Avantaway, MaxMoxie, and Authenzo SX-5006
  • Chemical control: chemical pest control methods involve the use of pesticides and chemicals that contain active components like fipronil, boric acid, and piperonyl butoxide to eliminate pest infestations. This type of pest control is often used as a last resort or in situations where the pest infestation has exceeded acceptable threshold levels. This is because pesticides are potentially toxic and can have hazardous effects if handled improperly

Always ask your preferred exterminators what types of pest control methods they plan to utilize for your required pest control services and be wary of exterminators that claim to have a one-size-fits-all pest control strategy. Professional exterminators typically evaluate infested areas and access the nature and scope of your pest problem before coming up with an effective combination of pest control methods.

The New England Pest Management Association provides an online directory that you can use to find professional exterminators in Boston that expertly access pest infestations and combine the aforementioned pest control methods for effective results. Organizations like the Better Business Bureau and the National Pest Management Association also provide online directories that you can use to search for experienced exterminators in Boston.

What Household Pests Do You Control?

Professional exterminators in Boston generally offer three types of pest control services, namely pest prevention, pest removal, and pest extermination. Pest prevention entails taking actions to prevent pest infestations in a target area, whereas pest removal and extermination entail finding and eliminating pests in areas that have already been infested, as well as minimizing the effects of these infestations.

To this end, it is crucial that you find out the types of pest control services that your preferred exterminator offers and confirm that these services match your specific pest control and management needs before signing any contracts with them. You should also go a step further by asking if the exterminator specializes in the particular types of household pests that are infesting your home. Doing this ensures that you receive satisfactory pest control services the first time out and saves you the time and money of having to find another exterminator to re-do your pest control work effectively.

Provided below is a list of cost estimates for pest control services that are commonly requested by residents of Boston. Note that the actual costs of these services will be dependent on factors like your location within the city, the severity of your pest problem, and your preferred exterminator's reputation:

Ant control
$80 - $375
Bat removal
$225 - $330 per visit
Bed bug treatment
$250 - $670
Beehive removal
$90 - $400
Beetle control
$100 - $400
Bug and insect treatment
$175 - $215 (for initial treatment for standard four-bedroom home)
Cricket control
$150 - $350
Mosquito control
$150 - $220 (for one-time treatment)
Mouse/rat extermination
$80 - $285
Roach extermination
$85 - $375
Rodent inspection and trap setting
$195 - $220
Silverfish extermination
$125 - $390
Small animal removal
$70 - $525
Spider removal
$100 - $225
Termite extermination
$450 - $2,555
Termite treatment
$8.55 - $11.75 per linear foot (for chemical treatment)
Tick control
$170 - $455
Wasp control
$100 - $800

Do You Carry the Necessary Right Insurance Policy for Exterminators in Boston?

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 2,800 pest control workers reported work-related injuries in 2020, with four of these injuries resulting in deaths. If you hire an exterminator who is not properly insured, you can be held liable if any of these injuries occur while they are working in your home. Furthermore, you may also have to cover the costs of any property damages caused by this exterminator while on the job. As such, the importance of ensuring that your preferred exterminators are properly insured cannot be overemphasized.

To this end, exterminators that wish to provide pest control services to residents of Boston are statutorily required to comply with the following financial responsibility requirements:

  • Exterminators with the MDAR's Certified Commercial Applicator designation must carry liability insurance with a minimum coverage limit of $100,000 per occurrence and $300,000 aggregate for bodily injury and $100,000 per occurrence for property damage
  • Exterminators with the MDAR's Licensed Applicator designation must carry liability insurance with a minimum coverage limit of $50,000 per occurrence and $100,000 aggregate for bodily injury and $50,000 per occurrence for property damage

Finally, all exterminators in the city that have employees are statutorily required to carry workers' compensation insurance for these individuals, regardless of the type of MDAR-issued license or certification that they hold.

Always verify your preferred exterminators' insurance status by requesting copies of their insurance certificates and authenticating these certificates with the appropriate insurance provider. You should also confirm that the exterminators' premiums are paid up and that their insurance limits are sufficient to cover the scope of your required pest control services.

You can contact the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) at (508) 281-6787 and (617) 626-1700 for more information on the financial responsibility requirements for Boston exterminators. Additional information concerning workers' compensation requirements can equally be gotten by contacting the Boston Regional Office of the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents at (617) 727-4900 and (800) 323-3249.

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Exterminator in Boston

Matters concerning the actions of unscrupulous exterminators and unsatisfactory pest control services in Boston can be reported locally to the city's Consumer Affairs Department and also to state-level agencies like the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources.

Complaints concerning poor, shoddy, or misrepresented services consistently rank amongst the most common types of complaints made by consumers in the Boston area and across several other regions in the United States. Therefore, it is always in your best interest to be on the lookout for signs of fraud, scams, or other deceptive business practices on the part of exterminators that you wish to hire when searching for pest control services in Boston. Some of these signs include:

  • The exterminator shows up at your home unsolicited and offers free or discounted pest control services
  • The exterminator utilizes high-pressure sales and scare tactics
  • The exterminator provides final rates for their services without properly evaluating your specific pest problem and inspecting the infested areas
  • The exterminator is evasive about their licensing and certification status
  • The exterminator does not have a local verifiable contact address
  • The exterminator asks for full payment before they commence any work
  • The exterminator refuses to provide a written service contract or pressures you into signing a contract that you have not properly reviewed

The following tips can help you choose a legitimate exterminator in Boston and also protect you from falling victims to scams and deceptive business practices carried out by fraudulent exterminators in the city:

  • Do not hire door-to-door exterminators
  • Get recommendations to exterminators in the city from trusted friends and relatives or via online platforms like the Better Business Bureau. It is also a good idea to look out for exterminators that are members of reputable associations like the New England Pest Management Association and the National Pest Management Association
  • Get and compare estimates for your required pest control services from at least two or three exterminators in the city
  • Always confirm the licensing and certification status of exterminators that you plan to hire
  • Ask your preferred exterminator for references or recommendations from past clients that can vouch for the effectiveness of their services. Be wary of exterminators that cannot provide you with local references or are hesitant to do so, as this is usually an indication of shoddy or ineffective service delivery
  • Make sure that your preferred exterminator is properly insured
  • Find out the types of pest control methods that will be used and make sure that they are suitable for your specific pest problem
  • Make sure that the exterminator provides a written service contract that details the nature and scope of the requested pest control service and the cost of these services. This contract should also include the exterminator's contact details and a guarantee of the effectiveness of the services that are to be provided
  • Review any documents that you are given thoroughly before signing them
  • Never pay the full cost of your requested pest control service upfront

You can file complaints concerning the unfair and fraudulent actions and business practices of exterminators and pest control companies in Boston with the city's Consumer Affairs Department by calling (617) 635-3834. These types of complaints can also be filed with the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office online or by mailing a pdf consumer complaint form to:

Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Advocacy & Response Division
One Ashburton Place
18th Floor
Boston, MA 02108

Finally, you can file complaints concerning unauthorized pesticide applications, pesticide misuse, and other pesticide-related matters that occur in Boston with the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources by calling its pesticide enforcement hotline at (617) 626-1781.

Choosing Between Local Pest Control Firms and Large National Chains: The Pros and Cons

While checking off criteria like license, certification, reputation, areas of specialization, trade association membership, and pest control methods utilized can help you streamline your search for a professional exterminator, you may still end up with several qualified hiring choices. At this point, homeowners and property managers in Boston are usually divided between hiring a local exterminator and retaining the services of a more well-known national pest control business like Orkin, Terminix, Aptive, Mosquito Joe, Hawx, Ehrlich, Bulwark, Truly Nolen, Arrow Exterminators, or Viking. When faced with this problem, weighing the pros and cons of hiring a local or national pest control firm in light of the following factors can assist you in making an informed choice:

Pros

Local Pest Control Firms
Routine pest treatment and maintenance is usually relatively inexpensive
Typically offer affordable and highly customizable pest control plans
Have a deep understanding of local climatic conditions and seasonal pest infestations
Quicker service turnaround times due to proximity
Customer service is usually more personalized
Nationwide Pest Control Brands
Suitable for routine pest control and treatment of large homes, businesses, and other commercial establishments
Typically offer standardized pricing and plans
Perfect for specialized pest treatments that require the use of sophisticated tools
Access to services provided by a wide range of pest control professionals
Broader service offerings

Cons

Local Pest Control Firms
Specialized equipment for pest control may be limited
Limited manpower and resources to clean large areas
Nationwide Pest Control Brands
Expensive pest control plans
Same-treatment approach to all customers