Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Pest Control Service in New York City
Pest sightings are a common occurrence in New York City, with about 50 percent of homeowners seeing cockroaches in their homes every day and seeing mice at least once every three months. Ignoring these pests can affect your indoor air quality and also trigger asthma attacks and other allergic reactions in your home's occupants. However, while it may be tempting to tackle household pests on your own, the improper application of pesticides can have several adverse health implications, including increased cancer risk. As such, you should always hire a pest control service that has properly licensed and trained exterminators when looking to rid your home of pests. With thousands of pest control companies operating in NYC, you can ensure that you hire the most qualified professionals for the job by getting answers to the following questions:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as an Exterminator in New York City?
- Are You Registered with the New York State Pest Control Association?
- How Much Do You Charge for Pest Control Services and Why?
- Do You Comply with the New York City Regulations for Pesticide Application?
- What Type of Pest Control Method Are You Using?
- What Household Pests Do You Control?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Right Insurance Policy for Exterminators in New York City?
- How to File a Complaint Against a
- Choosing Between Local Pest Control Firms and Large National Chains: The Pros and Cons
The regulation of individuals and businesses that wish to provide pest control services in New York City is handled at the state level by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). In accordance with the requirements of this department, any individual that wishes to apply pesticides in NYC must be certified as a Commercial Pesticide Applicator, a Commercial Pesticide Technician, or a Private Pesticide Applicator, depending on the scope of the pest control services being offered:
- Certified commercial pesticide applicators: these types of exterminators are authorized to use or supervise the use of any types of pesticides for commercial purposes and can also sell or supervise the sale of restricted pesticides.
- Certified commercial pesticide technicians: these types of exterminators can apply general use or unclassified pesticides for commercial purposes without supervision. However, they must be directly supervised by a certified commercial pesticide applicator before they can use restricted pesticides
- Certified private pesticide applicators: individuals that are certified as private pesticide applicators can use or supervise the private application of restricted-use pesticides for agricultural purposes. Note that this type of certification is not issued to exterminators that provide pest control services for compensation
Applications for DEC-issued certifications can be made via the department's nForm online form tool, and applicants will be required to create a user account to access this tool. Queries concerning the user account creation process or matters related to user account sign-in problems can be directed to phone numbers (518) 474-7497 and (800) 697-1323. Likewise, issues concerning the completion of the certification application form can be directed to the DEC program staff indicated at the top of the form.
Interested parties that wish to be certified by the DEC must meet certain eligibility requirements, which include being at least 17 years old and providing verifiable proof of on-the-job work or training experience. Note that the minimum acceptable years of this required experience is largely dependent on the type of certification that is being requested. The DEC also offers several certification categories for several types of commercial and private pest control-related services. These include the 7A - Structural and Rodent Control category, which allows holders to control rodents and insects within or associated with structures, and the 7C - Termite, which allows holders to identify and treat termite species. Applicants are typically required to pass a certification examination and pay a certification fee for each certification category that they wish to apply for.
Finally, exterminators in NYC are also required to register their business locations with the DEC. This registration can be done by mailing a completed Pesticide Business Registration Application Form to the department at:NYSDEC Pesticide Reporting and Certification Section
Albany, NY 12233-7254
Note that a separate registration form, as well as the payment of separate registration fees, must be completed for each business location.
Hiring an exterminator that has been properly certified and registered by the DEC ensures that your pest control job will be done in compliance with federal pesticide application standards as well as local environmental conservation laws. Per Article 71 these laws, exterminators that fail to undergo certification and registration with the DEC can receive civil penalties of up to $5,000 for first offenders and $10,000 for subsequent offenders. Homeowners that knowingly hire uncertified exterminators also face similar penalties.
You can get additional information concerning the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's pesticide applicator certification and pesticide business registration requirements and procedures by contacting the department at (518) 402-8748 or via email. You can also verify the certification and registration status of your intended NYC exterminator online via the department's NYS Pesticide Administration Database.
Exterminators in New York City are statutorily-required to undergo state-level certification with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. While you should always make sure that any exterminator you hire has fulfilled this requirement, it is also a good idea to go a step further by finding out if the exterminator belongs to a reputable trade association. These include the New York Pest Management Association (NYPMA) and the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). The NYPMA and the NPMA are voluntary trade associations that promote high standards and professional conduct amongst exterminators in New York City by providing them with access to continuous and up-to-date industry information and training opportunities.
Exterminators that belong to these associations are typically more experienced than their non-member counterparts and also tend to display a higher degree of on-the-job professionalism when providing their services. Another advantage of hiring exterminators that belong to trade associations is that they provide a channel for consumer mediation if you are not satisfied with the outcome of your exterminator's pest control services.
Note that you should always request proof of membership from an exterminator that claims to belong to a trade association and contact this association to verify the exterminator's membership claims.
When searching for qualified exterminators in NYC, it is always a good idea to get and compare rates from at least three different exterminators in the city before making your final hiring decision. Pest control workers across New York City are estimated to earn average wages of $21.35 per hour. However, the total amount of money that you will have to pay for pest control services in the city is generally dependent on a number of factors, such as:
- Your specific location within the city
- The type of pests that require controlling
- The size of your home or property
- The urgency of the situation
- The nature and frequency of the required pest control services
- The level of pest infestation
- The cost of supplies and equipment required for the job
Shopping around for cost estimates is a good way to ensure that you are charged a fair rate for your required pest control service and avoid being scammed by exterminators that bilk unsuspecting consumers in the city. Note that when comparing these cost estimates, you should not automatically hire the exterminator with the lowest rates. Be wary of exterminators that offer extremely low rates or deals that are too good to be true, and do your due diligence to ensure that these individuals are legit.
Pest control workers in New York City earn an average annual wage of $44,400. The list below compares the average hourly wages of this category of professionals in the city with those in other parts of New York State and other locations across the United States:
Hiring an exterminator that is not only familiar but also complies with the New York City pesticide application rules and regulations goes a long way in ensuring that you receive satisfactory pest control services at the end of the day. Several laws and regulations regulate the sale, distribution, and use of pesticides in NYC, and these include NYC Local Law 36, NYC Local Law 37, and the New York State Environmental Conservation Laws. Some key details of these laws and regulations that should be noted include:
- The registration of all pesticides in NYC with the state's Department of Environmental Conservation before their sale, distribution, or use
- The mandatory certification of pesticide applicators as well the registration of all pesticide control businesses in NYC
- The mandatory notification of neighbors before the application of certain lawn pesticides. These notices must be delivered at least 48 hours before the pesticides are applied and they must include details of the pesticide and the pesticide applicator, the scheduled application date, and two alternative dates in case this date changes
- The prohibition of certain types of pesticides on property owned or leased by the city. These include pesticides that have been categorized as "Toxicity Category I and pesticides classified as known, possible, or likely human carcinogens by the EPA. Exterminators are also required to post notifications at least 24 hours before pesticide applications on these properties
You can find out the specific laws and regulations that may apply to your required pest control service by contacting the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene at (347) 396-4100. This department can also be contacted by calling 311 for callers within NYC and (212) 639-9675 for callers outside the city. Inquiries concerning NYC pesticide application regulations and requirements can also be directed to the Compliance Section of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation at (518) 402-8727 or via email.
You should always find out the types of pest control methods that the exterminator you plan to hire uses during the provision of their services and make sure that these methods will be effective for the job. Exterminators in New York City typically utilize several traditional pest control methods, which include:
- Chemical Pest Control: this type of pest control method involves the use of chemicals CimeXa Insecticide Dust, Natria 706230A Insecticidal Soap Organic Miticide, and Bifen IT Concentrate to rid homes and living areas of pests. These chemicals may come in solid, liquid, or aerosol form, and they typically contain active ingredients like fipronil, malathion, and acephate, and boric acid, which require expert application as they can be hazardous to humans, pets, and other living organisms
- Biological Pest Control: this type of pest control method involves the use of animals to control the pest population in an area. A common example of this is the use of cats to limit the spread of rats and mice in a building. This type of pest control method is relatively safe for humans and other living organisms in the area. However, it is only effective if the right type of pest-controlling animal is used under the right conditions
- Organic Pest Control: organic pest control involves the use of items like baits, traps, and sprays to limit the damage caused by pests in an area without inflicting any harm on other animals and plants in the area. The most effective types of these organic sprays usually contain one or more natural pest repellents like sulfur, boric acid, neem oil, and ryania. Some common organic pest control brands used by exterminators in NYC include Eco Defense Organic Home Pest Control Spray, Wondercide, Verdana Cold-Pressed Organic Neem Oil, and EcoRaider Ant & Crawling Insect Killer. Note that organic pest control as a sole pest control method is not particularly effective in getting rid of the pests in the area of concern
- Electronic Pest Control: electronic pest control involves getting rid of insects and rodents in an area by using devices MaxMoxie and Pest Soldier that emit ultrasonic and electromagnetic signals to repel these pests
- Hygienic Pest Control: this type of pest control method focuses on the use of good hygiene to prevent the growth and spread of pests in an area
Many professional exterminators in the city utilize a combination of the aforementioned pest control methods to ensure that your pest problem is effectively taken care of. In addition to this, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene recommends implementing an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan via the use of its Integrated Pest Management Toolkit for safer and more effective pest control services in the city. The benefits of implementing an IPM plan include:
- It targets and fixes the underlying causes of your home's pest problems
- It helps prevent pest-related damage to buildings
- It helps improve building and indoor air quality
You can find exterminators in NYC that implement Integrated Pest Management plans by accessing online directories provided by organizations like the Better Business Bureau and the National Pest Management Association. You can also find licensed exterminators in the city by contacting the New York Pest Management Association at (877) 521-7378 or via email.
Before hiring any exterminators in New York City, it is always a good idea to find out the type of household pests that they specialize in controlling as well as the pest control services that they are equipped to offer. Exterminators in the city typically offer three main types of pest control services, namely:
- Pest Extermination
- Pest Removal
- Pest Prevention
Pest extermination and pest removal services involve getting rid of pests that are already inhabiting and breeding in an area. On the other hand, pest prevention services lean towards ensuring that common pests in the city like mice, rats, and cockroaches do not inhabit, breed, or grow in your home in the first place. Confirming the types of pest control services that your intended exterminator offers and whether they also specialize in exterminating the specific types of pests inhabiting your home ensures that you receive satisfactory services at the end of the day. Also, make sure that you agree on the costs of the exterminator's services before they commence any work in your home.
The list below provides the average costs for pest control services in New York City, based on the type of pests involved. Note that these costs are estimates, and you may pay a higher or lower amount than the stated figures. Also, depending on the extent of your home's infestation, you may require multiple visits from your exterminator to properly rid your home of the inhabiting pests:
Exterminators typically face several on-the-job hazards, such as exposure to injurious chemicals as well as possible disease infections from rodent and insect bites. Making sure that your intended exterminators are properly insured protects you from financial and legal liabilities if they happen to be injured in your home whilst providing your requested pest control services.
Per the requirements of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, all pest control businesses that operate in New York City must have a minimum general liability insurance coverage of $300,000 per individual, $1,000,000 per incident of bodily injury, and $300,000 for property damage. To this end, you should always request proof of this mandatory insurance coverage from your preferred exterminators in the form of an insurance certificate and authenticate this certificate with the issuing insurance company. It is also a good idea to confirm that the exterminator's coverage limits are adequate for the nature and scope of your intended pest control service.
Note that employers that operate within New York State are also typically required to carry workers' compensation insurance for their employees, and pest control businesses in NYC are not exempt from this. Failure to comply with the state's workers' compensation requirement can result in fines of up to $2,000 for every 10-day period without this coverage as well as other state-imposed criminal penalties.
You can get additional information on the insurance requirements for exterminators in NYC by contacting the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation at (518) 402-8748. Queries related specifically to state-mandated workers' compensation insurance requirements can also be directed to the NYS Workers Compensation Board at (877) 632-4996.
Every year the New York State Attorney General's Office receives thousands of complaints from consumers across the state, with complaints concerning consumer-related services continually listed amongst the top ten complaint categories that it receives. A few years ago, NYC was rocked by a local pest control scam that involved fraudsters using the city's health department logo to demand payments for assessment and eradication of vermin from unsuspecting homeowners. Some other common pest control-related scam techniques utilized by fraudsters in NYC include:
- The door-to-door scam: this involves the fraudster, usually wearing an official-looking company uniform, offering unsolicited rodent inspection and extermination services. Many times, these fraudsters plant proof of rodents in your home so that you retain their services in getting rid of these non-existent pests
- The unlicensed/untrained exterminator: this involves the pest control business sending an unlicensed or poorly trained exterminator to handle the job, ultimately resulting in shoddy and unsatisfactory services
- The unclear pricing scam: this involves the exterminator downplaying the necessity of written contracts and convincing you to agree to a handshake deal. However, once the job commences, they end up billing you more than the agreed-upon price
To avoid falling victim to the aforementioned, or any other type of pest control scam in NYC, you should always consider the following tips when choosing and working with exterminators in the city:
- Do not hire unsolicited exterminators. Get referrals to reputable exterminators in the city from friends, family, or via sources like the Better Business Bureau, the New York Pest Management Association, and the National Pest Management Association.
- Look out for companies that utilize NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene-recommended Integrated Pest Management plans, as they usually provide thorough pest control services
- Get estimates for your required pest control services from several exterminators in the city and compare their rates before making your final hiring decision. Make sure that the exterminator inspects the pest-infested areas before quoting their final prices
- Make sure that any exterminator and pest control business you hire has been duly certified and registered by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation via its NYS Pesticide Administration Database
- Always ask for references and make sure that you reach out to these references to get their reviews on the effectiveness of the exterminator's services
- Confirm your exterminator's insurance status
- Get a written contract for the required pest control services. This contract should clearly state the nature of the services that the exterminator is expected to provide, and should include a service treatment plan and a pricing structure for these services. Make sure that you properly review this contract and any other documents that the exterminator issues to you, before signing them, and always keep copies of these documents.
Note that, despite taking these steps, there is always the possibility of still falling victim to a pest control scam. However, you can report these scams, or any other unfair and deceptive business practices by your exterminator, to the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, either online or by calling 311. Complaints can also be filed with this office by mailing two copies of a properly completed consumer complaint form to:NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection
Consumer Services Division
New York, NY 10004
Pest control-related complaints can also be filed with the New York State Attorney General's Office via its Consumer Frauds Bureau Online Complaint Form. Finally, you can report incidents of suspected or confirmed unauthorized pesticide application in NYC and other violations of the state's environmental laws to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation via an online reporting form or by calling 1-844-332-3267.
Even after checking off boxes like the exterminator's licensing status, area of specialization, pest control methods, and reputation, your choices of qualified exterminators may still seem daunting. At this stage, many residents in NYC are usually torn between going with a local exterminator or hiring nationally-known pest control companies like Orkin, Terminix, Bulwark, Aptive, Mosquito Joe, Arrow Exterminators, Hawx, Ehrlich, Truly Nolen, and Viking. However, assessing the pros and cons of hiring local or nationally-known pest control companies brand in light of the following aspects will help you make an informed decision: