Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Pest Control Service in Nashville
Even though pest infestations can cause serious damage to your health and home, improperly attempting to tackle these infestations by yourself can also be equally dangerous. Pesticides are one of the top ten substances for poison exposure in the Nashville area, with the Tennessee Poison Center managing nearly 2,500 pesticide poisoning-related calls in 2021 alone. Thus, hiring a licensed and experienced exterminator is your best bet in ensuring that your pest problems are safely and expertly resolved. To find professional exterminators in Nashville that provide their pest control services in compliance with the EPA's pesticide application standards, ask the following questions:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as an Exterminator in Nashville?
- Are You Registered with the Tennessee State Pest Control Association?
- How Much Do You Charge for Pest Control Services and Why?
- Do You Comply with the City of Nashville 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 Nashville?
- How to File a Complaint Against a
- Choosing Between Local Pest Control Firms and Large National Chains: The Pros and Cons
The activities of exterminators and pest control businesses in Nashville are governed by Title 62, Chapter 21 of the Tennessee Code, also referred to as the Tennessee Application of Pesticides Act. Per the provisions of this act, pest control companies in the city are required to obtain a pest control charter from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) before offering their services to interested parties. The TDA also offers up to 15 different license categories for eligible exterminators and each chartered pest control company must have at least one licensee for each category of pesticide-related services that it offers. These license categories are:
- Agricultural - Ground Equipment (AGE): this involves controlling agricultural pests by any means except fumigation
- Aquatic Pest Control (APC): this involves controlling aquatic plants and algae through the application of pesticides
- Bird Control (BDC): this involves controlling bird pests through the use of pesticides
- Forest Pest Control (FPC): this involves controlling tree pests and diseases in institutional and non-agricultural locations
- Fumigation - Soil (FUS): this involves the control of agricultural pests found in the soil through the application of a gas, including pesticides that are initially in a solid or liquid state but turn to gas when dispensed
- Fumigation- Structural (FUM): this involves the control of pests through the application of a gas, including pesticides that are initially in a solid or liquid state but turn to gas when dispensed
- General Rodent and Pest Control (GRC): this involves the control of vertebrate and invertebrate pests that invade or are known to invade structures and are not specifically covered by other TDA licensing categories
- Horticultural - Interior (HRI): this involves the control of plant pests and diseases in residential and commercial locations, excluding greenhouses
- Horticulture - Lawn and Turf (HLT): this involves the control of pests and diseases associated with shrubs, trees, lawns, and other turfgrasses
- Pest Control Consultant (PCC): holders of this license can offer pest control consultation services but are not qualified to conduct pest control operations
- Public Health Mosquito Control (PHMC): this involves the management of mosquitoes on public land and public waters
- Weed Control - Right of Way and Industrial (WEC): this involves the use of chemicals generally classified as herbicides to control plants on industrial sites and rights-of-way
- Wood Destroying Organisms (WDO): this involves the control of termites, carpenter bees, carpenter ants, various wood borers, and decay, regardless of the type or use of structure involved
- Wood Preservatives (WPC): this involves the control of insects, fungi, marine borers, and the effects of weather on wood products that may damage or degrade the wood either at the manufacturing or distribution stage
- Special (SPC): this involves the control of pests in special situations through the use of methods that are not included in the TDA's other license categories
Applications for TDA-issued charters and licenses can be made by mailing an Application for the TN Pest Control Applicator License and Charter Form to the department via any of the postal addresses provided at the bottom of the form. Applicants are typically required to meet certain eligibility criteria, which include having acceptable minimum educational or on-the-job experience, passing a licensing examination, providing proof of insurance and bonding, and paying all stipulated fees. Note that a separate charter is required for each office location that the pest control company operates. Likewise, applicants may be required to complete a separate TDA-administered commercial certification process before being issued certain licenses. Additional information concerning TDA-issued charters, licenses, and certifications can be directed to the department at (615) 837-5148.
Exterminators and pest control companies that operate in Nashville without a charter or an appropriate license can face Class A misdemeanor charges, which are punishable by fines of up to $2,500 and jail time of up to 12 months. You can confirm that your intended exterminator holds a valid charter and an appropriate license for your required pest control service by utilizing the TDA's List of Charter Companies webpage. License and charter verifications can also be done by calling (615) 837-5148.
When searching for professional exterminators in Nashville, it is a good idea to also look out for membership with reputable trade associations like the Tennessee Pest Control Association (TPCA), the Region 3 Middle Tennessee Pest Control Association, and the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). Exterminators that belong to these associations typically have access to educational and training resources that hone their skills and make them better equipped at handling pest-related matters than non-member exterminators. In addition, these associations also hold member exterminators to high professional standards and offer aggrieved customers an additional channel for mediation in situations where these members do not provide satisfactory pest control services.
You can find professional exterminators in Nashville that are members of the aforementioned pest control associations by utilizing the NPMA's Find a Local Exterminator webpage or by contacting the TPCA and Region 3 MTPCA at (678) 231-3124 and (615) 497-2359 respectively. Always request proof of current membership from exterminators that claim to belong to any of these associations and also make sure that they possess valid TDA-issued charters and licenses.
When looking to get rid of pests or undertake any other types of pest-related activities in Nashville, you should always find out how much your preferred exterminator charges for their services before reaching any final agreements with them. The cost of pest control services in Nashville is primarily influenced by the following factors:
- The type of pests causing the damage or problem
- The size of the infested area and the severity of the infestation
- The amount of time and labor needed to provide the required services
- The types of pesticides, chemicals, tools, and other materials needed for the job
- The frequency of the required pest treatments
Note that other factors like your specific location within the city, accessibility to the infested area, and weather conditions may also influence your exterminator's rates. Nonetheless, it is advisable to get and compare written estimates for your required pest control services from at least the different exterminators or pest control companies before making your hiring choice. Doing this not only gives you a fair idea of the going rate for these services but protects you from unscrupulous exterminators that take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners by overcharging for their services. However, this does not mean that you should automatically hire the exterminator with the lowest rates, as you should also consider factors like the exterminator's level of experience and reputation in the city.
Pest control workers in Nashville earn an average annual wage of $38,250. 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 Tennessee and other locations across the United States:
The use and application of pesticides in Nashville is governed by several laws and regulations. These include Title 62, Chapter 21 of the Tennessee Code, also known as the Tennessee Application of Pesticides Act, Chapter 0080-09 of the Rules of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. Confirming that your intended exterminator is familiar with these pesticide application regulations and also complies with all relevant provisions of these regulations is crucial in ensuring that you receive satisfactory pest control services. Some requirements of these regulations that affect pest control services in Nashville include:
- The prohibition of pesticide use, application, and other related activities by individuals and businesses that do not possess valid charters and licenses issued by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture
- The use of proper PPE during fumigation applications
- The proper use and disposal of pesticides per label requirements
- The mandatory registration of pesticides that are distributed, sold, offered for sale, or transported within the city
Violations of these pesticide regulations are considered Class A misdemeanors, and individuals found guilty of these offenses can receive criminal and civil penalties of up to $2,500 in fines and up to 12 months in jail. You can get additional information on pesticide regulations or make specific inquiries concerning the provisions of these regulations that pertain to your required pest control services by contacting the Tennessee Department of Agriculture at (615) 837-5148. Queries on these matters can also be directed to the Metro Nashville Government Customer Service Center at 311 for callers within Davidson County or (615) 862-5000 for callers outside the county.
Exterminators in Nashville utilize several types of pest control methods when providing their services and the effectiveness of these methods is usually dependent on the types of pests that are being targeted. These pest control methods can be grouped into four categories, namely:
- Physical pest control methods: this involves the use of baits, traps, alarms, and other similar devices to detect and get rid of pests in areas of interest. This pest control method is typically used for rodents and other similarly-sized pests. Some common brands used for this pest control method are No See Electronic Mouse Trap. Pest Soldier, MaxMoxie, Neatmaster, and JT Eaton Jawz Plastic Mouse Trap
- Chemical pest control methods: chemical pest control methods involve the use of pesticides and other chemical substances to get rid of pests. These are one of the most widespread methods of pest control in the city and they provide relatively quick and safe results when done by professionals. Common pesticide brands used by exterminators in the city include, but are not limited to Bonide (BND952) Insect Control Systemic Granules, CimeXa Insecticide Dust, Suspend SC Concentrate, Bifen IT Concentrate, and Natria 706230A Insecticidal Soap Organic Miticide
- Cultural pest control methods: this involves making the environment unhospitable or inhabitable to the pests in question through various methodologies, such as improving hygienic conditions and using obstructive landscaping and diversionary elements. While this method can be useful for pest prevention, it is not particularly effective in situations where you already have a pest infestation
- Biological pest control methods: this pest control method relies on the use of predators and other living organisms like pathogens and parasites to control the growth and spread of particular pests in an area. For example, lacewings and lady beetles may be introduced into mite, aphid, or ant-infested areas to control the spread of these infestations. Note that the effectiveness of biological pest control methods is largely dependent on using the right predators to control the pests in the area. Also, there is always the possibility of these predators ending up as pests themselves
Professional exterminators in Nashville typically combine two or more of these methods to achieve optimal results. Nonetheless, you should always find out the types of pest control methods that your exterminator plans to use and make sure that these methods are suitable for your specific pest problem. You can find professional exterminators in Nashville via online directories provided by associations like the Better Business Bureau and the National Pest Management Association, or by contacting the Tennessee Pest Control Association at (678) 231-3124.
You should always find out the types of household pests that your intended exterminator specializes in as well as the types of pest control services that they are equipped to offer before you reach any final hiring agreements with them. Failing to confirm your exterminator's area of specialization before hiring them can result in you receiving unsatisfactory pest control services and ultimately cost you additional dollars in hiring a more suitable exterminator.
Professional exterminators in Nashville typically offer pest control services over a wide range of household pests and insects, which include rats, mosquitoes, spiders, fleas, ticks, and termites. These pest control services can be grouped into three categories, namely:
- Pest extermination
- Pest removal
- Pest prevention
Pest extermination and pest removal services involve getting rid of pests that have already infested an area, while pest prevention services involve ensuring that pests do not infest an area in the first place.
Cost estimates for commonly requested pest control services in Nashville are listed below. Note that your location in the city and the severity of your pest problem may affect the actual costs of these services:
Per the provisions of Section 62-21-108 of the Tennessee Code, exterminators in Nashville that wish to obtain charters from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture are required to maintain liability insurance with a minimum coverage of $250,000 per incident and $500,000 aggregate. These exterminators must also post surety bonds of $10,000 before they can obtain these charters.
Note that new pest control companies with exterminators that hold Wood Destroying Organisms (WDO), General Pest and Rodent Control (GRC), Fumigation - Structural (FUM), or Bird Control (BDC) licenses must also provide a $50,000 surety bond. Similarly, pest control companies with exterminators that hold Wood Destroying Organisms (WDO) licenses must maintain additional errors and omissions insurance with a minimum coverage of $100,000 per incident and $300,000 aggregate. Finally, exterminators and pest control companies in Nashville that have five or more employees are statutorily-required to maintain adequate workers' compensation insurance for these employees.
Hiring a properly insured exterminator is of utmost importance as this insurance insulates you from liabilities if the exterminator damages your property or sustains any injuries while providing your requested pest control services. In 2020, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 2,820 nonfatal work-related injuries and four fatal work-related injuries amongst pest control workers. To this end, you should always confirm your intended exterminator's insurance and bonding status by requesting proof of these and contacting the relevant insurance and bond-issuing organizations to verify this proof.
Inquiries concerning the minimum insurance and bonding requirements for Nashville exterminators and pest control companies can be directed to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture at (615) 837-5148. Inquiries related to mandatory workers' compensation for exterminators and pest control companies with five or more employees can also be the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development at (615) 532-4812, (800) 332-2667 or via email.
Matters concerning suspected or confirmed scams by fraudulent exterminators and pest control companies, as well as all other pesticide-related matters in Nashville, are handled at the state level by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.
In May 2021, local news channel Fox 17 WZTV Nashville reported that an exterminator had defrauded an elderly widow around the Nashville area to the tune of $1.7 million. According to the report, the exterminator had initially met the victim when working for a pest control company and had taken advantage of the victim's dementia to subsequently pull off the scam. Although many exterminators and pest control companies in Nashville provide legitimate services, there is always the possibility of running into individuals that conduct business fraudulently during your search for professional exterminators in the city. These fraudulent exterminators and pest control companies typically scam unsuspecting homeowners through several methods, such as:
- Offering unsolicited free pest inspections and planting evidence of pest infestations to get hired
- Being vague about their rates and downplaying the necessity of written contracts
- Including malicious clauses in service contracts
- Lying about their licensing status
- Sending unlicensed or untrained individuals to provide the requested pest control services
- Charging premium prices for subpar or substandard pest control services and devices
You can protect yourself from exterminator and pest control company scams in Nashville by taking the following steps when searching for suitable pest control services in the city:
- Get referrals to exterminators in the city from reputable sources like trusted friends and family, the Tennessee Pest Control Association, the Region 3 Middle Tennessee Pest Control Association, the National Pest Management Association, and the Better Business Bureau
- Be wary of unsolicited offers of pest control services
- Always confirm that your intended exterminator or pest control company has a valid charter as well as an appropriate license in the category of pest control service that you require. You can do this online by accessing the Tennessee Department of Agriculture's List of Charter Companies
- Always get cost estimates for your required pest control services from at least three different exterminators or pest control companies
- Make sure that any agreements you reach with the exterminator or pest control company are put in writing. In situations that involve termite infestations, ask to be shown any alleged structural damage caused by these pests and verify the presence of termites before signing any pest treatment contracts. Make sure that these contracts are warranted for a period of at least one year
- Always read and understand any contracts that you are given before signing them
- Make sure that any pest control company you intend to hire visibly displays its charter number on its official vehicles as well as in any advertisements that they air
- Find out the types of pesticides that will be used for the job. You can also request the product label and Material Safety Data Sheet of these products to get a better understanding of their proper use and potential hazards
- Make sure that your exterminator or pest control company is properly insured and bonded
- Request references or letters of recommendation from past clients and contact them to get their reviews on the exterminator or pest control company's services. You can also look up reviews online via third-party websites like the Better Business Bureau, Google Review, and Yelp
- Do not pay the full cost of your pest control services upfront and never hire any exterminators that ask you to do this
You can file complaints against bad exterminators and other related issues that occur locally in Nashville by completing and submitting a Pesticide Investigation Request Form to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture at:Tennessee Department of Agriculture
Consumer and Industry Services Division
P.O. Box 40627
Nashville, TN 37204
Note that responses to submitted complaints are typically prioritized based on the nature of the complaint. Also, complainants are usually contacted by local inspectors from the department to discuss their submitted complaints before any investigations are initiated. You can contact the department's Consumer and Industry Services Complaint Hotline at 1-800-628-2631 to make inquiries related to its complaint submission and investigation process.
Even after reviewing criteria like the exterminator's licensing status, area of specialization, pest control methods, and reputation, the task of selecting qualified exterminators can still seem daunting. At this point, you may find yourself split between hiring a local exterminator and national pest control firms like Orkin, Terminix, Bulwark, Aptive, Mosquito Joe, Arrow Exterminators, Hawx, Ehrlich, Truly Nolen, and Viking. When faced with this decision, weighing the pros and cons of selecting a local or national pest control company based on the following factors can assist you in making an informed decision: