A pest infestation can not only be incredibly stressful and uncomfortable, it can also damage your property and, in some instances, be bad for your health. From termites and ants, to bedbugs and roaches, Americans spend many millions of dollars each year for pest removal and extermination services.
If you have a pest infestation (or live in one of America’s Buggiest Cities), you may want to strongly consider bring in an exterminator to help you eliminate the problem. We spoke to George Castillo of Gorilla Pest Control to find out why you should hire a pest control professional and what to expect when getting rid of those unwanted roommates.
Hiring a Professional
Castillo says if you want to get it right the first time it’s done, you should bring in the experts. Not only does it get the job done, it stops issues from getting bigger. “That’s why there’s such a big bed bug problem,” he says. “They’re very difficult to kill, but people still try to do it themselves. Meanwhile, the bugs are multiplying and spreading.” And that can happen with any insect, he warns, not just bed bugs.
Identifying the Pest
The reason a pest control company is crucial is because they can identify what kind of rodent or insect infestation you have and then properly and safely eliminate them. “When we show up, the first thing we do is ask to see the evidence that you see,” Castillo explains. “Then we walk around the perimeter of the home and inspect every room, looking under cabinets and kitchen sinks. Sometimes we don’t find the pets itself, but we can identify what it is based on the evidence.” For instance, he explains there are cricket droppings and American roach droppings that look similar to mouse droppings.” Clearly, if you have a cricket problem, you don’t want to treat for mice, but it’s not always easy for someone who isn’t trained to be able to spot the difference.
Discovering the Source
As Castillo mentioned, exterminators aren’t always able to find the pest itself, but they can usually find the source. “We look for what could be harboring the pests. If it’s rats, we check the wood and rock piles, ivy, palm and fruit trees, or if it’s earwigs, we’ll examine mulch or any kind of debris that’s right up against the house.” The key is to locate the infestation and eliminate it, so the problem doesn’t come back. “You can’t control the environment,” he adds. “But for mice and rats, for example, we can rodent proof a structure and cover every single hole, gap, and crack, so they can’t get inside.”
Eliminating the Pest
A professional knows the best technique for eliminating all types of pests and will have a complete plan to not only get rid of the pests, but keep them from coming back as well. This could be a kill or no-kill traps, baited traps, poison spray, or in some cases, fumigation. Castillo does warn that organic sprays don’t work as well as regular pesticides because they don’t leave a residual behind that continues to kill bugs. “But if people are okay with living with a few bugs here and there, it’s definitely an acceptable option that people feel good about.” Still, he adds, he’s had more than one customer who started with organic treatments and then switched to the “regular” stuff when they found the green method wasn’t getting the job done.
Make sure you discuss the safety of the chemicals with the exterminator as well as any adverse effects and how long you and your pets need to stay clear of the treated areas. It’s good to know about any precautions you may need to take afterwards before they get started so you know exactly what needs to happen to keep everyone safe.
Not all pest control professionals offer clean up services, but Castillo says his company will also do that. “People don’t want rodent droppings left behind after the rodent is gone, so we go in and remove all of the feces.” If that’s something you want, you should definitely ask about it before you hire the exterminator.
“We offer preventative services,” Castillo says. “But it all depends on the client’s tolerance. I’ve had people who want me to come every time they see an ant and people who just like me to come once a year. There are also instances where the problem is larger and we’ll need to do more than one treatment.”
The price will depend on what kind of pest you have, how big the infestation is, how long it’s going to take, and how much product needs to be used. “A flea and tick job costs more because you have to spray the entire grounds, the floors, and sometimes under the sub-floors,” Castillo says. “Whereas for something like ants, you just spray the perimeter of the house and the property, as well as the landscape lines.” Either way, it’s good to ask for an estimate just so you know what you’re in for.
What to Ask When Hiring
Castillo suggests you find out if the company is licensed, bonded, and insured so you know you’ll quality work and also if they offer a warranty for their work in case the pests come back. You should also always check reviews, like the ones you’ll find on Thumbtack, to see what other people are saying about a provider.
George Castillo is the owner of Gorilla Pest Control in Los Angeles, California. You can find him on Thumbtack.