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Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Pest Control Service in Austin

When attempting to exterminate a pest infestation on your own, always bear in mind that the wrong use of pesticides or any other chemicals to eliminate pests can result in serious health problems for humans. Hiring an exterminator that is competent to complete the job properly will not only save you from the health hazards of a pest infestation but also save the financial liability of replacing furniture damaged by pests. To ensure that you choose a top-rated pest control professional in Austin, it is recommended you ask the following questions:

Are You Licensed to Practice as an Exterminator in Austin?

Any person or business establishment who wishes to eliminate pests in and around buildings, apartments, and lawns in Austin, especially by the controlled application of toxic chemicals must obtain the appropriate state license for such work. In Texas, pest control certification and licenses are issued by the Texas Department of Agriculture.

The Texas Department of Agriculture issues three types of pest control licenses. These licenses include a commercial license for individuals hired to apply pesticides on the land of another individual, a noncommercial license for individuals that are employed by government agencies, and persons applying pesticides on their employer's property but who do not qualify as a private or commercial applicator, and private license for individuals producing agricultural commodities. Operating as an exterminator without the appropriate license in Austin is an offense that can see first-time offenders facing fines of up to $2000. Second-time and third-time offenders may pay up to $3000 and $5000 in fines respectively.

Interested persons can use the Texas Department of Agriculture's eApply portal to apply for the appropriate exterminator license. However, applicants who do not wish to apply online can complete their application by downloading, filing, and mailing either the application form for commercial applicator's license or application form for non commercial applicator's license to:

Texas Department of Agriculture
1700 N. Congress, 11th Floor
P.O. Box 12076
Austin, Texas 78711

Note that commercial license holders are also known as applicator businesses. These businesses must be registered with the Texas Department of Agriculture and each applicator business must provide proof of financial responsibility in the amount of $100,000 property damage and $100,000 bodily injury per occurrence or a general aggregate at a minimum of $200,000 for each occurrence. Applicator businesses must submit a pesticide applicator business registration form to the above-listed address.

Applicator businesses and private pest control licensees can choose a number of TDA pesticide applicator categories. These include, but are not limited to, agricultural pest control, lawn, and ornamental pest control, regulatory pest control, public health pest control, and aerial application. To be eligible for license renewal as a Private Applicator, the pest control practitioner must complete 15 CEUs (Continuing Education Units). An online course can earn you up to ten of these credits. The final 5 hours of training must be completed in a live environment. As part of their necessary 15 CEUs of training, private applicators must also receive at least 2 credits in rules and regulations and at least 2 credits in integrated pest management. Before renewing their license, the commercial or noncommercial applicator must earn at least 5 CEUs, according to Texas law. Drift minimization, rules and regulations, and integrated pest control are the three categories in which they must each earn one credit. You can contact the TDA for more information on obtaining a pest control license in Austin at (512) 463-7476.Note that you can also find out if a pest control professional is licensed by the TDA by calling the aforementioned telephone number.

In addition to a pest control license, anybody who applies or supervises the use of restricted-use pesticides must be certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a private or commercial applicator based on Federal Certification Standards. Private applicators must demonstrate a practical understanding of agricultural pest problems and treatment strategies, as well as correct pesticide storage, use, handling, and disposal, prior to getting certified. Commercial applicators, meanwhile, must show that they understand basic pesticide use and safety, as well as at least one specialty application area. Please contact the EPA through email or fill out this online form for more information on Federal Certification Standards.

Are You Registered with the Texas State Pest Control Association?

Before hiring an exterminator in Austin, it is wise to find out whether the individual belongs to the state pest control association. Note that hiring an exterminator that belongs to the state pest control association not only means that you are hiring a legitimate business, but also means better service. You can find out whether the individual is a member of the state pest control association or any pest-control-related association by asking for proof of membership.

Most Austin exterminators are members of the Texas Pest Control Association (TPCA). Exterminators who are members of the association have access to affordable workshops and training across the state, industry updates, and multiple networking opportunities. In addition, these professionals are well represented in the decision-making process leading to public policies and legislation. As a result, they are usually more informed than their counterparts who are not members of the Texas Pest Control Association.

Note that any Austin exterminator who is a member of the Texas Pest Control Association (TPCA) is also automatically a member of the city's TPCA chapter and the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), a national organization that offers a wide range of educational and business resources to professionals in the pest management community.

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

Pest control employees in the Austin area earn an average hourly income of $19.95. However, depending on the nature of the job, the level of infestation, the size of the area that will be worked on, and the number of visits required to complete the job, pest control employees in Austin may charge more or less than the above mentioned average hourly cost. As a result, it is in your best interest to find out how much you will need to pay for pest control services before finalizing any agreement with an exterminator.

You can find out how much you will need to pay for a pest control service by discussing the service you need with at least three different exterminators in the city, and asking each to submit a quote for the service afterward. Comparing these estimates will help determine the actual cost of the service, while also offering you the option of choosing the exterminator that matches your budget. Nonetheless, you must bear in mind that the lowest bidder may not always be the best for the job. Unscrupulous individuals sometimes use low bids as a tool to appeal to unsuspecting homeowners.

Pest control workers in Austin earn an average annual wage of $41,500. 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 Texas and other locations across the United States:

Austin Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$19.95
Dallas Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$19.76
Houston Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$19.30
Austin Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$19.95
San Antonio Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$18.21
Fort Worth Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$19.76
San Diego Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$20.67
New York City Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$21.35
Philadelphia Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$19.66
Chicago Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$19.05
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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

Exposure to pesticides may result in irritation to the eye, nose, and throat; damage to the central nervous system and kidney; and an increased risk of cancer. The only way to avoid these health problems after the application of pesticide is by making sure that your preferred pest control professional adheres to the pesticide guidelines.

While there are no specific pesticide regulations in Austin, pesticide applicator businesses are required to adhere to the city's Integrated Pest Management (IPM) guidelines. Common IPM guidelines in the city include:

  • Accurately diagnosing problems before considering any treatment
  • Making use of the least-toxic solution when dealing with pest infestation
  • Use pesticide as last resort
  • Always read and follow pesticide label instructions

In addition to adhering to IPM guidelines, applicator businesses must also comply with the Texas Department of Agriculture guidelines for the use of pesticide. These guidelines include:

  • Proper storage of pesticides to avoid inadvertent exposure,
  • Adhering to pesticide label instructions
  • Exercising utmost caution when there is a perceived risk of exposure to pesticide

Note that making use of pesticides in a way that violates the regulations of the Texas Department of Agriculture can result in administrative penalties of up to $4,000 per incident, civil penalties of up to $25,000, Class A, B, and C misdemeanors, and a third-degree felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Queries concerning the regulations guiding pesticide use in Texas can be directed to the Texas Department of Agriculture through email or visit their regional office at:

Austin Main Headquarters
1700 North Congress, 11th Floor
Austin, TX 78701
Phone: (512) 463-7476

What Type of Pest Control Method Are You Using?

According to the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) guidelines, exterminators must accurately diagnose a problem before considering the type of pest control method to use. Failure to accurately determine the best control method to use in case of pest infestation may result in the inability to control the pest and may even cause damage to the target site. As a result, it is always good to hire an exterminator that is experienced and competent enough to identify and use the right pest control method.

The most common pest management methods used by exterminators in the city are as follows:

  • Organic Pest Control: Organic pest control strategy relies on the use of pheromone traps, the release of beneficial insects, the use of trap crops, and other organically approved techniques to eliminate pests in an area. Here, the exterminator makes use of natural substances such as spinosad, pyrethrin, neem oil, diatomaceous earth, bacillus thuringiensis, or sulfur as alternatives to man-made chemicals like pesticides.

Exterminators employ a variety of organic pest control solutions, including:

    • Eco Defense Organic Home Pest Control Spray
    • Wondercide All-Purpose Organic Home & Garden Insect Control
    • EcoRaider Ant & Crawling Insect Killer
    • EcoSmart Ant & Roach Killer
    • Verdana Cold-Pressed Organic Neem Oil
    • Essentria IC3
  • Biological Pest Control: Here, the exterminator introduces natural enemies of the pest, such as parasites, pathogens, and predators, to reduce the reproduction of the pest. If these parasites, pathogens, and predators are already present in the area, the exterminator ensures that they multiply and become more effective in reducing the number of pest organisms. Examples of biological pest control strategies include the introduction of Lacewings (Chrysopa spp.), Ladybugs (Hippodamia spp.), Hoverflies (Eupeodes spp.), and parasitic wasps, which are predatory insects that feed on or lay eggs in, the insects that gorge on your plants, reducing their numbers exponentially.

Although biological control strategies are generally safer compared to the use of pesticides, their success is dependent on the exterminator's accurate diagnosis of the problem and the use of the right biological strategy. This is particularly important because some biological strategies can lead to the introduction of invasive species in an area. As a result, any new methods of biological control must be carefully considered before organisms are released into the environment.

  • Physical and Mechanical Pest Control: This strategy is generally recommended when you have acute pest problems. It involves the use of physical means and devices to control pests in an area. Tillage, flaming, flooding, soil solarization, and row covers are common physical means to control pests, while the use of devices of different sizes, types, and shapes, such as screens, fences, barriers, traps, and mulches are mechanical strategies.
  • Chemical Pest Control: This strategy involves the use of chemical pesticides to eliminate pests in your homes and surrounding. Nonetheless, pesticides can result in various health problems if they are not properly applied. As a result, it is always wise to hire an experienced and competent exterminator to apply pesticides. An experienced and competent exterminator not only knows when to apply pesticides but also the type of pesticide that is required for a particular pest infestation. Common chemical pesticides used by exterminators include:
    • Suspend SC Concentrate
    • Termidor SC Concentrate
    • CimeXa Insecticide Dust
    • BioAdvanced 3-in-1 Insect Disease & Mite Control

While pest control is very important, it may be counterproductive when it is not carried out effectively. The only way to ensure that the most efficient pest control procedure is used in your specific circumstance is to hire a professional exterminator. The Better Business Bureau's directory can help you identify licensed exterminators in Austin.

What Household Pests Do You Control?

Pest control services in Austin are generally categorized into pest extermination, pest removal, and pest prevention. Pest extermination and removal involve any strategy to get rid of pests in an area, whereas pest prevention involves the use of precautionary measures to prevent pests from entering an area. Although most Austin pest control professionals offer the three different pest control services, homeowners are advised to hire a professional that specializes in offering the specific type of pest services they need. In addition, it is also wise to find out what it will cost to get rid of a particular type of pest in your home. Based on the type of pest involved, the following are cost estimates for pest control services per one-time visit of exterminators in Austin:

Bats and bird exterminator
$161.00 - $234.00
Bed bug exterminator
$123.67 - $149.32
Bee exterminator
$100.00 - $600.00
Carpenter ant exterminator
$80.00 - $700.00
Carpet beetle exterminator
$80.00 - $700.00
Cockroach exterminator
$150 - $600
Flea exterminator
$70.00 - $650.00
Exterminator for Mice, rats, and other similar rodents and small animals
$140.94 - $155.87
Mosquito exterminator
$108.27 - $156.80 (for one-time treatment)
Spider exterminator
$75.00 - $738.00
Termite treatment
$6.07 - $8.31 (per linear foot for chemical treatment)
Tick exterminator
$50 and $150 (per treatment)
Wasp exterminator
$95 - $1,100

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

In 2020 alone, a total of four fatal and 2,820 nonfatal on-the-job accidents were recorded among pest control professionals, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. While it is almost impossible to eliminate the occurrence of work accidents during pest control services, homeowners can avoid the financial liabilities that come with these accidents by making sure that their preferred pest control professional is insured.

Per the requirements of the Texas Department of Agriculture, an agency responsible for statewide licensing and certification of pest control professionals, anyone who intends to obtain a license that qualifies them to engage in the elimination of pests in and around buildings, apartments, and lawns for compensation must meet certain insurance requirements.

The Texas Department of Agriculture requires applicants for pest control license to file a policy or contract of insurance for at least $200,000 in personal injury and property damage coverage, with a minimum total aggregate of $300,000 for all incidents. Nonetheless, if a pest control professional claims to have the abovementioned insurance policies on file with the Texas Department of Agriculture, do not hesitate to verify their claim from the Department. You can do this by calling (866) 918-4481, sending an email, or visiting the Department's physical office at:

Texas Department of Agriculture
1700 N. Congress, 11th Floor
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 463-7476

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Exterminator in Austin

In May 2019, a couple in Austin were unknowingly roped into a pest control service contract after a door-to-door solicitor visited their home. According to CBSAustin, the couple hired the solicitor but two months after turning the solicitor away, the couple received a bill for two pest control services that never happened. This is just one of the several pest control service-related scam tricks used in the city. Other scam methods employed by unscrupulous individuals posing as legitimate pest control professionals include enticing customers with low prices for the service, demanding full payment before commencing work, and making use of inferior materials for the work. To avoid falling victim to such tactics by dishonest exterminators, it is advisable to take the following steps:

  • Get Recommendations From People: Asking people you trust to recommend a pest control professional near you can reduce the stress of getting a competent professional, while also making sure that you do not fall into the wrong hands.
  • Get Multiple Estimates: Always get and compare estimates from at least three different exterminators before selecting the one that matches your budget
  • Hire Only Professionals That Are Licensed: The Texas Department of Agriculture is responsible for licensing pest control professionals in Austin. Always verify your preferred professional's license status from the Department by calling (800) 735-2989.
  • Hire Only Professionals That Are Insured: Always verify a professional's insurance status by requesting a copy of their insurance certificate and checking with the insurance company that issued the certificate.
  • Ask Questions About the Service: There are different pest control services and it is always wise to find out the type of service you are getting. In addition, it is crucial to research the pesticides that the pest control professional intends to use and how they will be applied. Making sure that the pesticides are appropriate for your project will protect you from health problems that may result from the inappropriate use of pesticides.
  • Avoid Paying Full Price Before the Job is Completed: Scammers often demand full payments from customers without any intention to do the job. As a homeowner, you can protect yourself from this scam trick by not paying the full price until you see that the service is satisfactorily completed. You can pay one-third of the total pest control service cost as an upfront payment.
  • Always Insist On A Written Contract: Pest control services may cause serious damage to your home or your family if it is not handled properly. It is always wise to get a written contract detailing the nature of the service and the expectations tied to the service before allowing a pest control professional to work in your home.
  • Read Your Contract: It is important to carefully read any contract you are given before signing. Always ask questions if you do not understand any part of the contract.

Victims of pest control scams can report the incident to the Texas Attorney General's Office by calling (800) 621-0508 or (214) 969-7639. Homeowners who do not want to report the incident via the above-listed telephone lines can file an online complaint, or go to their office at:

Attorney General of Texas Consumer Protection Division
300 W. 15th Street
Austin, TX 78701

Likewise if the incident involves pesticide exposure or misuse, homeowners can contact the TDA's Structural Pest Control Service at (866) 918-4481 or by email.

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

When considering hiring a pest control professional in Austin, homeowners are often split between hiring a local exterminator or a large corporation like Arrow, Aptive, Orkin, and Bulwark. Although both options are available, homeowners should always weigh their advantages and disadvantages before making a decision. Listed below are the advantages and disadvantages of hiring a local or national brand.

Pros

Local Pest Control Firms
A robust understanding of the pest infestation in the area
Pest Control Plans that are cheaper and flexible
Because of awareness of pest infestation in the area, service is personalized
Because they are members of the community, their success in business depend on the quality of their work
Most local pest control firms offer 24hours services
Nationwide Pest Control Brands
Perfect for pest infestation that requires the use of advanced instruments
Price and Plan are uniform
Services options are more varied
Because of their national outlook, business success is dependent on not only the quality of their work but also how satisfied their customers are after receiving their services
Fixed working hours

Cons

Local Pest Control Firms
Lack of advanced equipment for pest control
Shortage of laborers and resources to handle a big project
Nationwide Pest Control Brands
Cost of pest control plans are ridiculously high
No personalized service