How to Choose a Bed Bug Exterminator

Not all exterminators are created equal.

Let’s face it – investing a few thousand dollars in an exterminator is just not something you can do without putting some thought into it. After all, that money could be used on a myriad of other options, but instead, it will have to be used on this. On the other hand, one should also not be paralyzed by the decision process.

So where do you start?

The first thing you need to do is to take a step back and ask yourself Do I Really Need a Professional Exterminator?

With a handful of effective Do-it-Yourself alternatives out there, it does not always make sense to push for this option as the first pick. The following questions will help you decide if pest management service is the best step forward. Proceed to each succeeding question only if the answer to the existing one does not warrant a professional exterminator.

Qualification Checklist for Pest Control Services

1. How severe is my infestation?

Pest control should be used in cases of severe infestation. Such drastic measures are not mandatory in cases of minor infestations. What is the difference between them? Mild infestation is having some bitemarks, finding some bed bug signs or even some bed bugs. Severe infestations are cases where you see swarms of bed bugs roaming around.

Severe infestations are when you see several such bed bug harborages at home

2. What would be the repercussions if the word got out?

Could a piece of information about bed bug infestation negatively influence my business, organization, or brand? You should mistake on the side of an overreaction if you are part of an organization where a hint of bed bugs could ruin your good social or financial standing, or even lead to litigations. Examples of such organizations are the hospitality industry, public transport, owner of multi-residential buildings, landlords, property managers, social or religious organizations, etc. Note that in some states very clear rules for legal entities exist on what and how they should react. You can always install preventive measures later by yourself.

If however, you are a private individual, ask yourself what would be the worst thing if the word got out. You could get some negative looks and words, and perhaps be mildly socially isolated for the duration of the infestation. But could we assume that this would be the end of it? Then an expenditure for professional services may not be so justified.

3. How much time do you have?

To solve this problem. Do you have time to learn about bed bugs and how to get rid of them? The majority of suppliers provide ample training and support materials so this should not be an obstacle. Can the treatment even wait a few days, or does each day mean such harm (financial or otherwise), that you just cannot wait? If you cannot wait, then a professional exterminator is the path forward. Otherwise, it may be more prudent to invest some time into exploring this area. You can easily learn enough to apply the same methods and remove bed bugs yourself. A great starting guide is available Here. The time invested will also help you understand this pest better, helping you to install preventive measures and reducing the probability of contracting them again in the future.

4. Have I exhausted other options?

With pest control services being the most expensive venue, it makes sense to first exhaust other possible options beforehand. The majority, however, do the mistake and approach the matter the other way around. They first try the exterminator services and when they do not work, they start considering alternatives. Since no service provider works under a money-back guarantee there is no way you could get that money back. If one follows such an approach, they risk being left with a significant dent in their wallet and bed bugs still in their home. On the other side, many suppliers offer money-back guarantees.

5. Am I able or willing to spend a premium for this right now?

No matter how you look at this, using a professional will always cost a multiplier of what it would if you would try to solve the problem on your own. If you do not feel comfortable with the idea of parting in such high amounts, then you should first exhaust other alternatives.

If your answers to the above questions did not mandate the use of a pest control specialist you might consider alternative approaches first. A few invested minutes of your time could save you a lot of money. If you do not know where to start check this complete list of treatment types, with their pluses and minuses.

Keep on reading though, if you have decided that bed bug extermination services are still needed.

Write a List

Of reliable and trustworthy providers that could suit your needs. The best places to start looking for them are your family and friends. Also ask your landlord, as he might be able to help (in some states he is even obligated to).  We would not advise starting asking at your neighbors’, as this could get you into an awkward, if not even problematic situation. For example, they could hold you accountable for their future infestations.

If this circle of contacts is not possible, there are always great public resources such as:

Once you have a list of a few selected potential providers, you should do one more thing before making a call: Prepare. This step is vital, yet the majority omits it. It is critical when you are aiming to reach an optimal decision in a minimal amount of time.

The next few paragraphs reveal the topics and specific questions you should first ask yourself, and then the providers.   

Topics to consider

A checklist of main topics and questions you should bear in mind. Read them through and select those that are relevant to your specific situation and goals.

Pro tip: create a spreadsheet on a sheet of paper with these topics on one and providers on the other side. This way you will have an easier time comparing them later down the road.

Certification and LicensingMake sure the pest control company you are considering is certified and holds an active license to perform bed bug extermination in your state. The company should also be a part of a professional organization, such as the National Pest Management Association. This is to ensure they follow the latest standards and quality of operations.
Check that their technicians are either certified or registered pesticide applicators in pest management. You can usually find this information by calling the relevant government agency in your state.
ExperienceInvestigate their number of years of experience dealing specifically with bed bug infestations. Since this is a service it is not only about how many years the company has but also about how many experiences the technician who would service your home has. Otherwise, you may hire a reputable company and get an intern or a student with almost zero experience doing the actual work.
Reviews and ReferencesDon’t trust their salesperson, advertisement, or neat website. Look for online reviews and ask for references from past clients. A reputable exterminator should be able to provide you with references upon request. You may even call your state or local pesticide regulatory agency and ask if there have been any complaints made over them.
Level of Customer ServiceChoose an exterminator who is responsive and professional in their communication with you. This can include things like returning your calls and emails promptly, answering your questions, and providing updates on the progress of the treatment. A reputable exterminator should be able to explain clearly and succinctly their treatment methods and answer any questions you may have. If during the discussion you sense they are reluctant to disclose any information or sound unsure this might indicate a bad sign.
Treatment Method TypesMake sure you are comfortable with their approach before moving forward. Ask for an Integrated Pest Management approach. Inquire about what happens if the first treatment does not work.
TimingAsk how fast they can do the extermination, how long it will take, and when they could do it (working hours, afternoons, weekends). Consider how this fits your schedule and the urgency of your problem.  
SafetyAlways seek to use the least toxic method possible that will still get the job done. Some approaches may require you to vacate your home due to the usage of highly toxic means. Others, like high heat, are not toxic but could harm parts of your home or its equipment. If the provider intends to use toxic means, ask about its potential health side effects and signs of poisoning. Some pesticides have long residual effects. You are entitled to see the Material Safety Data Sheet which will show the precautionary signs. Consider also how the process could influence your pets and their living areas.
Guarantees or WarrantiesYou should be very skeptical if the company does not provide some kind of guarantee on their work. If they do, ask under what circumstances the guarantee holds or breaks, and consider what that means for you. We all know that certain guarantees only look nice until you read the fine print.
InsuranceHad the company provided proof that they are insured for general liability and professional liability? Employees must also be bonded.
These two things will ensure you are on the safe side in case they cause any damage to your property during the treatment. It will be much easier to claim reimbursement if they are properly insured
PriceAlthough the quality of the service is what you are primarily looking for, the price will also have to be taken into account. Once you have it, ask if the price includes everything or if are there any extras (travel expense, equipment rental, waiting time, hidden surcharges). Ask for a quote with all applicable taxes (service, sales, etc) and fees (e.g. payment type), as this can sometimes create quite a difference between the discussed and actually invoiced amount. On the other side, bear in mind that low-cost providers may warrant closer inspection. In the end, the rule you get what you pay for holds true here as well. If the amount is too big, ask for a possibility of a payment plan.
Pest Control Topics and Questions to Consider

One final step that we cannot emphasize enough – get multiple quotes from several different exterminators before deciding. Make sure each quote includes a detailed explanation of the treatment plan, and that the rest of the terms are what you have agreed.

Now you have a few offers in front of you, what comes next?

How do you decide?

If some of the providers did not satisfy your minimum criteria regarding a specific topic you should remove them from the list. If a provider is outside of your budget they must also be removed from further screening steps as you cannot afford them.

Consider what topic(s) are highly important to you if more than one provider is left. Check if any provider satisfies them all and if yes, select that one. If not, check what provider satisfies most of your important criteria. If more providers satisfy different criteria the solution may be a bit more difficult to take, since different aspects cannot always be compared head-to-head.

A final tip – if the selected provider will not insist on inspecting your house prior to performing a treatment then you should be worried. Honest professionals will double-check that you truly have bed bugs before doing anything.

We hope this guide helped you make an optimal decision on your pest control provider. We wish you the best of success in getting rid of bed bugs.

Your BedBugGuide Team

Interested to learn more about Bed Bug Treatments?

Click on the links below to learn more.

If you really want to get rid of bed bugs today try SayByeBugs! It was developed as a safe and highly effective alternative among a sea of products that rarely deliver on their promises.

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