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Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Pest Control Service in Philadelphia

Pests are a complete nuisance that spread disease and destroy property. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, cockroaches, one of Philadelphia's most prevalent pests, can cause asthma and other health problems and are quite difficult to get rid of. This is why hiring a professional to take care of your pest control and extermination problems is the best choice. Always ask the following questions to ensure that you pick a pest control provider that is qualified to clear your property of pests:

Are You Licensed to Practice as an Exterminator in Philadelphia?

To become a licensed exterminator in Philadelphia, it is first of all important to be certified by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA). The certification falls under two categories:

  • Commercial/Public Applicator
  • Private Applicator

To obtain a Commercial/Public Applicator Certificate, a person must pass two written exams, one core and one category, and be employed by or planning to start a pesticide application firm. The core test fee is $50, and each category test is $10. The commercial applicator fee is $40 per year, and the public applicator fee is $10 every three years.

Applicators must attend updated training seminars in core and suitable category-specific topics to maintain certification and pass exams, which are administered by the PDA Regional Offices. The applicator's license will expire if the recertification credit requirements are not satisfied by the set deadline, and the applicator will be unable to make pesticide applications until the license is reinstated.

A private applicator certification is necessary to purchase and/or apply limited use pesticides for the purpose of producing an agricultural commodity on land owned or rented by that individual or their employer. Testing is required to become a certified private applicator, and while the exam is free, there is an initial $10 price for the license once it has been passed.

If the applicator plans to apply a restricted-use fumigant, additional testing is required. In this situation, the applicant must receive a particular permit by completing a written exam tailored to the type of fumigation to be performed. For recertification, private applicators must earn updated training credits, six core and six categories, every three years. The license must be renewed every three years for a charge of $10.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture requires all pesticide application businesses in the City of Philadelphia to obtain a Pesticide Application Business License. A pesticide application business, according to the Department, is any government institution, commercial establishment or individual operator that applies pesticides and meets the definition of a public or commercial applicator. Pesticides for general or restricted use must only be applied by a licensed party. A license identifying the certification category, which in this case is a Commercial and Public Applicator, is also necessary.

The standards for complete general liability insurance coverage for pesticide applications must be met by applicants seeking this license. There must be at least $200,000 in coverage. This must include $100,000 in bodily injury coverage and $100,000 in property damage coverage per incident.

For general pesticide inquiries, please contact the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture at (717) 772-5231 or via email.

According to federal law and regulations, anyone who applies or oversees the use of restricted-use pesticides must be certified as a private or commercial applicator. This certification, which is guided by Federal Certification Standards, is overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Private applicators must demonstrate practical knowledge of pest problems and control practices linked with agricultural activities, the correct pesticide storage, usage, handling, and disposal, as well as legal liability before they can be certified. They must be able to read and understand pesticide labels and labeling, apply pesticides according to labeling instructions and warnings, and recognize common pests and the damage they cause. They must also be able to consider local environmental situations during application to avoid contamination and poisoning symptoms and procedures to follow in the event of a pesticide accident. States, territories, or tribes are responsible for certifying private applicators through oral or written tests, a training course or any other EPA-approved system.

Commercial applicators, on the other hand, must demonstrate a practical understanding of fundamental pesticide use and safety, as well as at least one specialized application category. Commercial applicators must also show practical knowledge of pesticide labeling and label comprehension, safety, including pesticide hazards, first aid, personal protective equipment, and emergency response, pesticides in the environment, pest identification and management, pesticide formulations, application equipment and techniques, and laws and regulations for core pesticide use and safety before they can be certified.

For more information about EPA Federal Certification Standards, please contact the agency via email or fill out this online form.

Are You Registered with the Pennsylvania State Pest Control Association?

Complementary to checking that your prospective Philadelphia exterminator has a valid state-issued pest control license or has been state-certified, it is also a good idea to check for membership with the Pennsylvania Pest Management Association (PPMA). Exterminators who join this organization are bound by the organization's Operating Policies and Procedures and have access to better health, life, and workers' compensation insurance options, legislative advocacy, ongoing education and training, industry representation, regulatory information and representation by the Pesticide Advisory Board, scholarship opportunities, and PPMA/NPMA website accessibility. All of these translate to greater service for homeowners who hire them, as well as an additional route for mediation in circumstances where they are unhappy with the exterminator's work.

Members of this organization may also be members of the National Pest Management Association, which gives them access to a broader range of educational and business tools. It is important to note that any exterminator in Philadelphia who claims to be a member of any of these organizations should always provide proof of membership.

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

To avoid any misunderstandings down the line, find out exactly how much you will need to pay for your desired pest control treatment before any work begins. Pest control employees in the Philadelphia area earn an average hourly income of $19.16, according to US Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Nonetheless, some elements, such as the type of pests involved, the size of the area where the work must be done, the level of infestation, and the number of visits required, all influence the amount of money that these professionals charge for their services.

It is a good idea to consult at least three different exterminators in the city, give them the same job needs, and get price quotations from them just to make sure you are getting a fair price for your pest control service. Compare the numbers and choose the one that best fits your budget. It is also important to remember that your choice shouldn't be based solely on who is quoting the lowest price, as some con artists provide low prices on purpose to defraud unwary homeowners.

Pest control workers in Philadelphia earn an average annual wage of $40,880. 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 Pennsylvania and other locations across the United States:

Philadelphia Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$19.66
Pittsburg Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$18.13
Harrisburg Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$18.59
Lancaster Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$17.29
Scranton Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$17.51
San Diego Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$20.67
New York City Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$21.35
Los Angeles Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$20.91
Houston Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$19.30
Chicago Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$19.05
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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

It is very important to ensure your chosen pest control experts comply with pesticide application regulations in the city. Pesticides and pesticide applications are regulated in Philadelphia by the Bureau of Plant Industry's Division of Health and Safety. This covers pesticide registration in Philadelphia, certification of pesticide applicators working in the city, notification requirements for pesticide applications in schools, and enforcement of the EPA Worker Protection Standard.

For more information on pesticide use and regulation in Philadelphia, please contact the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture at:

2301 North Cameron Street,
Harrisburg, PA 17110
Phone: (717) 787-4737

What Type of Pest Control Method Are You Using?

Before hiring any exterminators in Philadelphia, make sure you understand the type of pest control technique they will use and that it is appropriate for removing the pest infestation from your property. The following are the most popular pest management strategies employed by exterminators in the city:

  • Organic Pest Control: This strategy uses baits, traps, or sprays to restrict pest damage while also ensuring that other animals and plants in the vicinity are not harmed. Natural chemicals such as neem oil, Boric acid, Kaolin Clay, Limonene, Ryania, Pyrethrins, Diatomaceous earth, Spinosad, Rotenone, Bacillus thuringiensis, or Sulfur are found in the most efficient organic pesticides. Organic products are safe for children and pets, but they are not as effective against pests. Professionals employ a variety of organic pest control solutions, including:
    • 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
  • Chemical Pest Control: This is a more effective method than organic pest control, and it entails the application of chemical pesticides, which can be solid, liquid, or aerosolized. However, pesticides can be toxic to humans and other living species in the region, necessitating expert application to effectively limit these risks. Fipronil, malathion, hydramethylnon, indoxacarb, imidacloprid, acephate, carbaryl, boric acid, and permethrin are some of the most common active compounds used in exterminator products for chemical pest control in indoor spaces. Professionals use the following products for chemical pest control in the home:
    • 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
  • Biological Pest Control: This strategy entails introducing another living organism - predators, parasites, and pathogens - to an area only for the goal of controlling the population of rodents. The targeted pests are considered natural adversaries of such live creatures. For example, the mynah bird was introduced from India to the island of Mauritius to eliminate locusts. It's worth noting that good biological pest management necessitates a significant amount of human intervention. While this is an environmentally friendly pest control strategy, its performance is largely contingent on the introduction of the appropriate pest-controlling species under suitable conditions.
  • Electronic Pest Control: This entails the use of equipment that produce electromagnetic and ultrasonic signals to keep rodents and insects away from a specific region. Avantaway, Rostermark, Pest Soldier, Zovenhci, MaxMoxie, Cleanrth CR008, Neatmaster, WahooArt, Diaotec, Loraffe, Aigoo, Abilly and Victor M756K are some of the most popular electronic pest control devices used by pest management experts.

The best approach to ensure that the most efficient pest control strategy is applied to your individual circumstance is to hire a professionally qualified exterminator. The Better Business Bureau provides online directories where you may find licensed exterminators in Los Angeles. Your exterminator may prescribe a mix of two or more of these approaches, depending on the type of pest problem you're dealing with.

What Household Pests Do You Control?

Pest extermination, pest removal, and pest prevention are the three basic forms of pest management services. Pest extermination and removal are similar in that they both involve eliminating current pest infestations, however, pest prevention is taking proactive measures to keep bugs out of your home in the first place. While pest extermination is seen to be more efficient in terms of time, pest removal is more complete. Furthermore, while many exterminators in the area are trained to deal with a wide range of pests, some may specialize in one or two insect species.

Accordingly, it is always a good idea to confirm the types of household pests pest control professionals specialize in getting rid of, as well as the types of pest control services they provide, before signing any contracts with them. The following are average pest treatment cost estimates per one-time exterminator visit in Philadelphia, based on the type of pests involved:

Ant exterminator
$80 - $500
Bats and bird exterminator
$200.43 - $290.79
Bed bug exterminator
$153.50 - $185.35
Carpenter ant exterminator
$101.00 - $991.00
Cockroach exterminator
$101.00 - $994.00
Flea exterminator
$90.00 - $885.00
Exterminator for Mice, rats, and other similar rodents and small animals
$370.72 - $459.93
Mosquito exterminator
$136.69 - $197.96 (for one-time treatment)
Spider exterminator
$265 - $285
Termite treatment
$7.53 - $10.31 (per linear foot for chemical treatment)
Tick exterminator
$115 - $140
Wasp exterminator
$98.00 - $967.00

It's important to remember that, depending on the severity of the pest infestation, you may need numerous treatments and visits from an exterminator.

Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Exterminators in Philadelphia?

Pest control specialists were involved in four fatal and 2,820 nonfatal on-the-job incidents in 2020, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Hiring an exterminator with sufficient general liability and, where applicable, workers' compensation insurance protects you financially and legally in the event that your required pest control treatment causes property damage or personal harm.

All pest control businesses must meet the standards for complete general liability insurance coverage for pesticide applications, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA). It is necessary to have a minimum of $200,000 in coverage. This must include $100,000 in bodily injury coverage and $100,000 in property damage coverage per incident. A declaration or affirmation that pesticide applications are covered must be included in the coverage.

Always demand verification of insurance and bonding from your prospective exterminator, and then check with the issuing institutions to ensure that the paperwork is authentic and that the coverage levels are adequate for the scope of your project. Call (717) 772-5231 for more information on pest control insurance requirements in Philadelphia, or visit the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture offices at:

Main Office
Bureau of Plant Industry
Division of Health and Safety
2301 North Cameron Street
Harrisburg, PA 17110-9408
Region VII Office
1015 Bridge Rd
Collegeville, PA 19426
Phone: (610) 489-1003

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Exterminator in Philadelphia

In Philadelphia, cases against exterminators who failed to complete your job satisfactorily are handled at the state level by the Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in September 2019 that Terminix International Company, a pest control company, agreed to pay roughly $81,500 to settle complaints from Pennsylvania customers who claimed they never received the signed agreements the pest management company promised at the time of sale. According to federal and state law, financial charges must be disclosed at the time of signing, so some customers paid Terminix fees they were not compelled to pay.

Although there are many reputable pest control companies in Philadelphia, it is possible that you'll stumble across an unscrupulous exterminator while looking for acceptable pest management services. Unscrupulous exterminators and pest control companies in the city commonly use the following strategies to defraud unwary homeowners:

  • Unlicensed and Untrained Exterminator: In this scam, the company you call dispatches a technician to assess your situation. That technician is pesticide-applying licensed and trained. Then, when it's time to treat your home, a different technician arrives”one who doesn't have a license or much training at all. It's critical that anyone who comes into your home to treat pests is licensed and adequately trained. Do not be hesitant to request a copy of each pest control company employee's license before they enter your home. Also, don't be hesitant to ask the technician about your pest problem; if they act as if they don't know what they're talking about or refuse to answer your inquiries, the service should be terminated.
  • Door-to-door Salesperson: A salesperson posing as a pest control firm comes on your door in this scam. They may offer a free examination or simply inform you that you have a pest problem in your home. They may then show you proof of the problem in the form of a dead insect or rodent that they discovered on your property, which they believe was planted. Reputable pest control businesses do not market their services by going door-to-door in this manner. Don't fall for it if this occurs to you! No matter what the salesperson says, say "no" and refuse to let them into your home.
  • Perpetual Contract: Some shady businesses will try to trick you into signing a long-term contract with them. They'll tell you that you'll have to keep paying for their services as long as there are bugs, meanwhile, they're doing such a poor job that some bugs are almost certain to survive. A decent, trustworthy pest control company will tell you how long treatment will take for each pest and provide you with a treatment schedule. The work that will be done if you sign a contract for regular, preventative treatments will be specified in the contract. To avoid falling victim to this type of deception, make sure you read any contract carefully and comprehend the terms and conditions.
  • Unbargained Pricing: While you do receive treatment for an actual insect problem in this dishonest, unethical approach, you pay far more than is reasonable. This occurs when a shady pest control firm guarantees one price for a service or treatment but charges you more than the indicated price. An honest and legitimate pest control business will inform you upfront how much a service would cost. Make sure you understand exactly what services you're getting and how much they cost to prevent spending more than you bargained for.

It is recommended that you take the following actions to avoid becoming a victim of dishonest exterminators' tactics:

  • Solicit several cost estimates before making any hiring decisions. This will help you get a good ballpark of how much money you are supposed to spend for that project. Do not however settle for the lowest price as scammers often use low prices to attract unsuspecting homeowners.
  • Getting referrals from trusted friends, families and organisations like the Better Business Bureau can not only help you distinguish legitimate pest control businesses from scammers but also choose the best company for your project.
  • It always pays to read the contract given to you by your exterminator before signing it. This will help you avoid agreeing to something you are not aware of. It is also advisable to review this document with your legal counsel so that unfamiliar terms can be explained to you in a simple manner.
  • Never agree to full upfront payment before any work is done. If it is absolutely necessary to make upfront payments, insist on paying only ten percent of the total amount agreed.
  • Make some Internet research to determine what is needed for your pest control challenge and contrast what you find with the demands or approach of your exterminator. Ensure you ask a lot of questions about the problem, and note any hesitation from the exterminator.
  • Ensure your exterminator is covered by adequate insurance so as to avoid having to pay damages or compensate for injuries acquired in the course of your project.
  • Lastly, avoid door-to-door exterminators as they are likely unlicensed or untrained.

If you have been the victim of a pest control scam in Philadelphia, contact the Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General˜s Bureau of Consumer Protection at (800) 441-2555, send them an email or visit their regional offices at:

Philadelphia Regional Office 1
7801 Essington Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19153
(215) 937-1300
Philadelphia Regional Office 2
1600 Arch Street
Suite 300
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 560-2402

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

Finding pest control firms with the right reputation, licenses, certificates, speciality, techniques, and coverage isn't enough, because hiring an exterminator can still be a difficult choice to make, especially if there are a number of companies who make the cut. Most people are torn between hiring a local exterminator or a large organization like Orkin, Terminix, Arrow Exterminators, Hawx, Ehrlich, Bulwark, Aptive, Mosquito Joe, Truly Nolen, and Viking to get rid of pests in their home or office. However, assessing the merits and demerits of a local or national brand in light of the following considerations will help you make an informed choice:

Pros

Local Pest Control Firms
For routine pest treatment and upkeep, this is a low-cost option.
Pest Control Plans that are both cost-effective and highly customizable
Extensive knowledge of the climatic conditions and seasonal pest outbreaks in the area
Service turnaround times are faster. because of the proximity
Customer service that is more personal
Nationwide Pest Control Brands
Perfect for pest control in large houses, businesses, and other commercial locations on a regular basis.
Pricing and Plans that are Standardized
Appropriate for specific pest treatments that necessitate the use of advanced instruments.
Retain the services of a good number of pest control experts.
Expanded service options

Cons

Local Pest Control Firms
Pest control equipment is limited.
Manpower and resources are in short supply to clean a vast area.
Nationwide Pest Control Brands
Pest control plans that are too expensive
All customers receive the same level of service.