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Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Pest Control Service in Houston

Around 35% of Houston homeowners see roaches in their homes which is more than the national average of 11%. There are many health risks associated with pests, like triggered allergic reactions in house occupants or bad air quality in the home. Although it is tempting to tackle the pests on your own, using pesticides can negatively affect your health. Due to the harmful effects of pesticides on humans, it is important that you hire a professional exterminator to deal with pests. Exterminators have the necessary skills and experience to deal with these pests effectively and prevent them from returning. To find a qualified pest control company or exterminator in Houston, you should ask the following questions:

Are You Licensed to Practice as an Exterminator in Houston?

The regulation and registration of pest control businesses and individuals in Houston are handled by the Structural Pest Control Services (SPCS) of the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA). Exterminators who desire to offer services in Houston must obtain a license to provide effective and efficient pest control services. It is hazardous for an unlicensed exterminator to carry out pest control services in Houston. It is a violation that attracts the payment of a fine of up to $5,000.

The SPCS issues two types of licenses to individuals who wish to work as exterminators in Houston:

Commercial and Non-commercial Technician: These individuals perform pest control services under the direct supervision of a certified applicator. To be eligible for these licenses, an applicant must first register as an apprentice and complete all apprentice training requirements. To register as an apprentice, individuals must submit an application form online with a $125 fee within 10 days of their employment in providing pest control services. TDA will review the application, conduct a background check and issue an apprentice card where the application is approved.

Apprentices who complete their training can then take a technician exam by submitting an application form and an application fee of $64 to:

Texas Department of Agriculture
P.O. Box 12076
Austin, TX 78711-2076

Once the applicants pass the exam, they will be issued the relevant technician license.

Structural Certified Applicator: TDA issues three types of structural applicator licenses to interested exterminators in Houston. This includes:

  • Certified commercial pest control: This professional is responsible for providing pest control services, including inspection and identification, for a licensed pest control business that provides pest control services. This individual may also supervise and train technicians and apprentices.
  • Certified non-commercial pest control: This professional provides effective and efficient pest control services to apartment buildings and various facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools, hotels, and food processing establishments. While they may not solicit business, a certified non-commercial applicator works exclusively for their employer.
  • Responsible certified applicator: This professional oversees the operations of a pest control business. Other pest control businesses can employ this individual as a certified commercial applicator. However, this individual may only work as a designated responsible certified applicator for a specific business license location.

To be eligible for any of the structural certified applicator licenses, applicants must meet the following licensing requirements:

  • Must have held a technician license for at least six months and be employed with duties that include carrying out inspections and performing other tasks under the supervision of a licensed, certified applicator for at least 12 of the last 24 months.
  • Must have a degree in biological science or other associated degrees and provide proof of their college transcript.
  • Must have 12 months of verifiable technical field experience from another occupation in the past 24 months.
  • Non-commercial applicants must complete a TDA-approved noncommercial applicator training course.
  • Must file with TDA a policy or certificate of insurance
  • Must submit an exam application
  • Must pass a criminal review to be carried out by TDA

Applicants who check these licensing requirements can complete an application online or fill and submit a printable application form and an application fee of $125 via mail to TDA's address provided above.

Per Section A1951.301 of the Texas Structural Pest Control Act, all individuals in Houston's structural pest control industry must obtain a business license for every location their pest control business is operating. Every business license holder in Houston must also employ a commercial applicator who must not be employed by any other company or business license site. To apply for a business license, the pest control business can complete an application via TDA's online licensing platform.

When choosing an exterminator, ensure that the work they perform will comply with the federal pesticide application standards. You can get more information about the registration and license of exterminators in Houston by contacting SPCS at (877) 542-2474 or (866) 918-4481. You can also check the licensing status of your intended Houston exterminator by utilizing the TDA's relevant annual list of registered and licensed professionals.

Are You Registered with the Texas Pest Control Association?

It is important to check if your intended exterminator is a member of a reputable trade association. Some of the organizations known to have strong reputations in the industry include the Texas Pest Control Association (TPCA) and the National Pest Management Association. These organizations promote high standards and provide their members with the latest training and industry information.

Being a member of these organizations can help an experienced exterminator provide you with a higher level of professionalism. Another advantage of choosing an association member is that they can offer a channel for resolving disputes with their customers.

If your intended exterminator claims to be a member of these organizations, ensure you ask for proof of membership, such as a copy of their membership card. Contact the relevant organization to authenticate any document provided by the exterminator as proof of membership.

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

Before you hire a professional exterminator in Houston, it is important that you thoroughly find out how much exterminators in the area charge. In Houston, the average wage for a pest control worker is around $19.30 an hour. However, the total cost of doing business in the city can vary depending on various factors, including:

  • The size of the infected area.
  • Your location within Houston
  • Type of pests that require controlling
  • The level of pest infestation
  • The urgency of the situation
  • The cost of supplies and equipment required for the job

When planning to hire an exterminator, it is important that you shop around for multiple estimates of several exterminators near you to ensure that you get the best possible rate. Doing so will help you avoid getting ripped off by exterminators who are only interested in scamming you. Also, be careful about hiring an individual who offers low rates and deals too good to be true.

Pest control workers in Houston earn an average annual wage of $39 350. The list below compares the average hourly wages of this category of professionals in the city with those in other parts of Texas and other locations across the United States:

Houston Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$19.30
Dallas Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$19.76
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
Boston Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$24.59
Chicago Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$19.05
Los Angeles Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$20.91
Philadelphia Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$19.66
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Do You Comply with the Houston Regulations for Pesticide Application?

Getting a well-trained and licensed exterminator is very important to ensure that you get the best possible service when dealing with pests in Houston. In addition to having the necessary knowledge about the various laws and regulations in the city, as professionals, exterminators are expected to follow all applicable legislation and regulations when it comes to the use of pesticides. If pesticides are used inappropriately or illegally, the exterminator could face a civil penalty of up to $2,000 for each day of violation, a 180-day jail term, or both.

The regulation guiding pesticide application in Houston is the Texas Structural Pest Control Law. The exterminator must abide by the following pesticide use regulations:

  • The mandatory registration and certification of all pesticide applicators and companies in Houston.
  • To avoid unauthorized use and theft, pesticides should be stored and disposed of properly through the secure storage of containers.
  • A certified pest control technician or applicator must provide a copy of a pest control information sheet to the owner of a private residence or workplace. This information sheet should be obtained before the treatment begins.
  • The labels of pesticides should be read carefully and appropriately followed by the exterminator.

You can find out about the regulations and laws that apply to your pest control service in Houston by contacting the Structural Pest Control Services (SPCS) of the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) at (866) 918-4481 or via email. You can also visit the regional office of TDA located in Houston at:

Gulf Coast Regional Office
Elias Ramirez State Office Building
5425 Polk Street, G-20
Houston, TX 77023
Phone: (713) 921-8200

Bush Intercontinental Airport Livestock Facility
16424 Luthe Lane
Houston, TX 77032
Phone: (281) 443-2447

What Type of Pest Control Method Are You Using?

Before you hire a Houston exterminator in Houston, you should inquire about their pest control methods and techniques. This will allow you to decide whether their services will be effective for the intended pest services. Houston-based exterminators typically use various methods to control pests. Some of these include:

  • Chemical Pest Control: Involves the use of chemicals to eliminate pests and their living areas. A wide range of chemical pesticides can threaten the environment, as they can contaminate the food, water, and air that we rely on. They can also be toxic to people and other animals, especially if used with other chemicals. Only trained professionals can handle pesticides. These individuals should be able to identify and avoid contamination of food, utensils, and other consumable items. For chemical pest control, professional exterminators use the following types of products:
    • CimeXa Insecticide Dust
    • Suspend SC Concentrate
    • Bifen IT Concentrate
    • Termidor SC Concentrate
    • BioAdvanced 3-in-1 Insect Disease & Mite Control
  • Biological Pest Control: This involves the use of animals to control the population of pests in an area. For instance, the use of Cats as a control tool for pests like rodents in a home. Although this method is generally safe for humans, it is only effective when the animal is used under proper conditions.
  • Organic Pest Control: This involves the use of various methods such as traps, bait, and sprays to control pests in an area while still preserving the safety of their pets, humans, and the natural environment. However, this type of control is not particularly effective at getting rid of pests. Nonetheless, an organic approach to controlling pests is the most cost-effective way to deal with difficult pest situations. Natural ingredients such as boric acid, coconut oil, and silica are commonly used in organic pesticides. Professional exterminators also make use of a variety of organic pest control solutions, including:
    • EcoSmart Ant & Roach Killer
    • Verdana Cold-Pressed Organic Neem Oil
    • Essentria IC3
    • Wondercide All-Purpose Organic Home & Garden Insect Control
    • Eco Defense Organic Home Pest Control Spray
    • EcoRaider Ant & Crawling Insect Killer
  • Electronic Pest Control: This is a type of control that uses devices that emit electromagnetic and ultrasonic signals to repel rodents and insects. This method can only repel rats and insects, and it's not effective against other types of pests. Professional exterminators employ electronic devices that produce sound waves, such as Aigoo, Diaotec, Eliotec, Abilly, Pest Soldier, WahooArt, Diaotec, Loraffe, and Zovenhci.
  • Hygienic pest control: This type of control focuses on preventing the spread of pests in an area by maintaining good hygiene.

If you have a pest problem, hiring a licensed and experienced exterminator is the best way to solve the pest problem. Your exterminator will be better positioned to advise you on the best method to adopt to solve your pest issues. You can find a reputable exterminator on online directories like the National Pest Management Association or third-party review websites like Better Business Bureau. You can also find licensed exterminators in the city by contacting the Texas Pest Control Association (TPCA) at (512) 954-9664.

What Household Pests Do You Control?

Before you hire an exterminator in Houston, it is important that you know what type of pests they are capable of handling and if they have the appropriate equipment to offer effective pest control services. A professional exterminator can offer three main types of pest services in the city. This include

  • Pest Prevention
  • Pest Extermination
  • Pest Removal

While pest prevention services try to prevent the common pests from breeding and establishing themselves in your home, pest removal and extermination services often involve getting rid of unwanted pests that have already established themselves in an area. Ensure you confirm the type of services that your intended exterminator intends to provide and whether they can exterminate specific pests in your home. This will allow you to receive the best possible service.

Also, make sure that you agree with the exterminator about the cost of pest control services before they commence work. The following list provides the average costs for various pests in Houston.

Ant control
$66 - $361
Bat Removal
$158 - $229
Bed bug treatment
$266 - $651
Bugs and Insects treatment
$121 - $146 for initial treatment (standard 4-bedroom home)
Beehive removal
$71 - $380
Beetle control
$79 - $481
Flea removal
$101 - $311
Mosquito control
$106 - $380
Mouse/rat extermination
$56 - $226
Roach extermination
$66 - $356
Rodent inspection and trap setting
$138 - $152
Silverfish extermination
$111 - $371
Small Animal Control
$293 - $363
Spider removal
$100 - $196
Squirrel removal
$51 - $346
Termite treatment
$5.95 - $8.15 per linear foot for chemical treatment
Tick control
$156 - $428
Wasp control
$95 - $780

These costs above are based on the estimates, which means you pay more or less than what is provided above. Also, depending on the severity of the pest infestation, you may need multiple visits from the exterminator to get the job done.

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

While working, an exterminator can face various on-the-job hazards, such as exposure to harmful chemicals, getting bitten by an insect, and possible disease infections. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2,820 nonfatal on-the-job accidents among pest control professionals in 2020. Hiring an exterminator with the proper insurance coverage can help minimize the financial and legal liabilities you might face if they get injured while providing you with their services.

Per Section A1951.312 of the Texas Structural Pest Control Law, all Houston pest control business license applicants must file a contract or policy of insurance that provides coverage for at least $200,000 in property damage and bodily injury to persons caused by their activities. Also, with a minimum total aggregate of $300,000 for all occurrences, including damages caused by the pest treatment professionals to properties and persons under their custody, control, or care.

As such, you should always ask for proof of insurance coverage from your intended exterminator or pest control company. This should be exhibited in the form of a certificate that shows the company's liability insurance policies. Make sure you confirm the policy can provide enough coverage by authenticating such a certificate with the issuing insurance provider.

You can get more information on insurance requirements for exterminators in Houston by contacting the Texas Department of Agriculture's Structural Pest Control Service at (866) 918-4481 or via email.

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Exterminator in Houston

When dealing with complaints involving bad pest control companies or deceptive exterminators, they are typically handled by state agencies like the Office of the Attorney General of Texas and the Structural Pest Control Service of the Texas Department of Agriculture.

When choosing a reputable Houston exterminator for your pest control needs, you should always be on the lookout for signs that indicate that you might be dealing with a fraudulent individual. In 2019, a local news outlet reported that a couple encountered a random individual posing as an exterminator who asked them to sign a pest control service right there and then. This is just one of the ways that fraudulent individuals try to take advantage of innocent residents of Houston under the guise of being a professional. Apart from door-to-door solicitation, some of these fraudulent individuals are unlicensed or poorly trained. The resulting services are usually poor and not very satisfactory. Also, some use unclear pricing by convincing you that they need to sign a contract to get the job done. However, they will often bill you more than the agreed-upon price after the work has started.

To avoid getting victimized by a scam, it is important to thoroughly research the services offered by your desired exterminator in Houston. You can also use the following tips to avoid getting scammed:

  • Look for exterminators or pest control businesses with the necessary licenses and experience to provide effective and efficient pest control services. You can find out if your desired exterminator is licensed via the Structural Pest Control Services (SPCS) of the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA)'s annual list of registered and licensed professionals
  • Get references of experienced exterminators from family, friends, and neighbors. Also you can use reputable third party websites such as the Better Business Bureau, the Texas Pest Control Association (TPCA), and the National Pest Management Association to find local pest management companies.
  • Get good estimates from multiple exterminators in the Houston area. This will allow you to compare their prices and ensure that your hire an exterminator suitable for your needs.
  • Confirm your exterminator's insurance status
  • Ensure that you get a written contract that clearly states the scope of the services that the exterminator is expected to provide. It should also include how much you are being charged and a treatment plan.
  • Ensure you review any contract and other documents that the company is required to provide to you before signing them.
  • Make sure that you ask for references of past clients from your desired exterminator. These references can provide you with their thoughts on the company's professionalism and customer service.

If you are a victim of a scam or a deceptive business practice by an exterminator, you can report it to the Texas Attorney General's Office by filing an online complaint form. You can contact the Attorney General's Office at (800) 621-0508 or (214) 969-7639 for more information on how to file a complaint.

You can report suspected or confirmed pesticide application misuse in Houston to the Structural Pest Control Service of the Texas Department of Agriculture at (866) 918-4481 or via email.

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

Before you hire an effective and licensed pest control company, you must make sure that they are thoroughly licensed. Also, you will need to make sure that they have the equipment and the knowledge to carry out your intended pest control business. Nonetheless, residents of Houston get stuck when trying to decide whether to hire a local exterminator or retain the services of some of the most popular large companies such as Orkin, Terminix, and Arrow.

At this point, you must consider the pros and cons of hiring a local or national pest control company. This will help you to decide when choosing the most suitable exterminator.

Pros

Local Pest Control Firms
Pest control is not expensive.
These pest control plans are usually very affordable.
A comprehensive awareness of the seasonal and climatic conditions that affect the development and maintenance of pests in the area.
The proximity of the service provider helps deliver faster.
The service provided by the pest control company is more personal.
Nationwide Pest Control Brands
It is appropriate for regular pest control in large commercial establishments, such as restaurants and offices.
The price and the plan are uniforms.
Appropriate for use in specific applications, such as those that require the use of advanced equipment.ts.
Retained services of multiple pest control experts.
Variety of service options offered by the pest control company

Cons

Local Pest Control Firms
There isn't a lot of specialized equipment used for pest control.
Getting the job done right without many resources and manpower can be very challenging.
Nationwide Pest Control Brands
The pest control plans are too expensive for most people.
All consumers are treated the same.