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What Is the Difference Between Pest Control and Exterminator?

October 28, 2020
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Pests, bugs, and other critters are essential to our ecosystem but are rarely welcome inside our homes because of the pesky damage they cause. Most homeowners either try to fix their pest problem with DIY methods or hire experts like pest control companies and professional exterminators.

So what is the difference between pest control and exterminators? Although pest control and exterminators both share a common goal in removing pests from our living spaces and working areas, pest control focuses more on effective, environmentally-friendly long term solutions to remove pests. On the other hand, exterminators are more likely to utilize chemicals to kill pests - which may only work temporarily. 

Pest Control vs Extermination: What Makes Them Different

When you have insects crawling around your home or a rat infestation at your workplace, one of the first things you might think about is hiring an exterminator. A pest exterminator and pest control professionals are often confused for each other because their goals are essentially the same, but the way they achieve these goals is very different.

Years ago, hiring an exterminator was considered the most efficient way to solve pest problems. An exterminator would arrive at your home, spray chemicals like pesticides, and clean up the dead bugs that appear. 

This process tends to be chemically invasive and requires homeowners to be outside their house for hours. The results aren’t also very consistent: sometimes the chemical treatments work, sometimes they don't. In other cases, the pests still return after a while. 

There was also a growing concern over the impact of extermination on our environment. The idea behind extermination is to destroy something completely. As much as we dislike having unwanted pests and bugs inside our homes, they do have important roles to play in our planet’s ecology. Once we became aware of this, more professional pest control companies began to offer their services. 

Instead of killing off all the bugs and rodents, pest control professionals work to keep pests away from our homes instead. They focus on why the pests are present in the first place and how they can alter these conditions to drive them away. If chemicals are necessary, pest control professionals may use milder, environmentally-friendly products that are safe for humans and pets alike. 

Pest control services take a lot of time to fully understand the problem, the whys and hows. Compared to exterminators that focus on killing the pest problems right now, pest control companies are more future-oriented. They aim to eliminate the pests for good to ensure they don’t return or multiply. 

ExterminationPest Control
Relies on toxic materials to kill unwanted pestsFigures out precise ways to eliminate specific pests and prevent them from returning
Aims to kill pests without addressing the root of the problem Uses effective chemicals that are less harmful to humans and pets
Provides a temporary solution to a potentially long-term issue Manages pest infestations through prevention and long-lasting solutions 

What To Expect From A Pest Control Visit

It’s important to keep your home and workspaces free of pests and vermin. Aside from being nuisances, they can cause damages to your property and harm your health. Pest control is one of the best ways to deal with them. 

As noted earlier, the major difference between pest control and exterminator services is that pest control takes a look at the type of pest before deciding on a course of action. This means that pest control services are not one-size-fits-all. If you’re considering hiring a pest control company, here are some of the things you can generally expect: 

  • Inspecting entry points: Entry areas such as pipes, windows, doors, garages, attics, and crawl spaces are how pests and rodents enter the home. This is one of most important and time-consuming parts of pest control, as the pest control expert has to look for cracks, hidden spaces, and tiny entrances. 
  • Examining the yard: If you’re living in an area that has a yard or is close to an outdoor space, pest control services will check these spots as well. These spaces may lead to future problems so your pest control has to prevent these as well. 
  • Creating a report: Expect your pest control professional to take some time while putting together their findings. They have to go through all the information systematically to create a plan for your future treatments.
  • Discussing the pest control issue: Finally, your pest control provider will discuss their findings with you so you know exactly what is going on in your property. They discuss the necessary actions that need to be taken to fix the current problem and prevent future ones. If you have any questions, this is the ideal time to bring them up. Maybe you are a homeowner who is concerned about setting up precautions for your pets or you’re wondering if you need to do any follow-up care on your own. 

What To Expect From An Exterminator Visit 

For people who are looking for convenience when resolving their pest issue, they might prefer to hire exterminators. Compared to pest control operators, an exterminator would approach the problem through pest elimination. 

The difference between extermination and pest control is that exterminators are more likely to suggest fumigation or using a spray hose and chemicals to kill the pests. If you have never called an exterminator before, here are some things you may expect to be part of the experience: 

  • Investigating the infestation: Your exterminator will need to know where all the pest sightings throughout your home have happened so they can identify entry points and hiding areas. They may also assess the physical damage such as chew marks, tunnels, nests, moisture build-up, or grease stains. Be on guard at this stage, in case the technician uses scare tactics to try and sell other home repair services. 
  • Reviewing the infestation: The exterminator will review and report all the damages to you as well as the extent of the infestation. They may discuss possible solutions to help with the pest control, prepare several quotes on their services, and recommend the next steps to take. 
  • Preparing your home: Unlike pest control which offers solutions for target spaces, extermination usually covers a wider area. Once you have settled on a service, you should begin preparing your property by moving your furniture away from the walls and covering all surfaces. This will help the exterminator access the nooks and crannies of your home easily. 
  • Caring for your pets: If you’re a homeowner, prepare a comfortable space for pets outside or drop them off with someone you trust. Some pest control products may cause adverse effects on pets. It’s important to ask your exterminator for a time when your pets can return home. 

13 Things To Consider When Choosing Between Pest Control vs Extermination 

It’s usually much better to hire an expert than to try DIY-ing something by yourself, especially when dealing with pests. This is especially true if the infestation has gotten out of control, the pest problem is ongoing, or the products you need can only be used by a certified professional.

If you’re in dire need of a pest control professional or exterminator to help resolve pest problems in your home, here are some things you should consider when choosing between a pest control vs extermination company you need to hire: 

  1. Reputation: The pest management company must be reputable to protect your property and protect yourself against any liabilities. Visit the company website and do your research to see if the company is bonded and insured. If possible, ask them questions to see exactly how professional and knowledgeable they are. 
  2. Technicians: Don’t immediately allow the pest control provider to enter your home. Check first to see if their identification, license, and certification are current. Most states require technicians to be certified and that they attend the annual training to update their license. 
  3. Expertise: When you ask questions, the pest technician or sales rep should be able to give a knowledgeable answer. If there is a question they can’t answer immediately, they should say outright that they don’t know but are willing to find out. This is much better than being given wrong answers.
  4. Appearance: Pest technicians should come to your house with a clean overall appearance. They should arrive in their uniforms and their truck, equipment, and chemicals should look professional. 
  5. Trust: As pest management professionals will be coming in and out of your home, trust is very important. Raise any concerns if you’re feeling trust issues immediately. Many women also have difficulty feeling comfortable with men coming into their home, so ask the pest control operator to see if they have any women on their staff to work with you. 
  6. References: Neighbors and friends may be able to refer you to professional pest extermination or control services. You can also check your state’s pest control association for a list of providers. 
  7. Consultation: Depending on the site inspector, they should make recommendations for future prevention before, during, or after the service. They should provide adequate information and maintenance recommendations for your home, such as screen replacement or hole repairs. 
  8. Price: Keep in mind that the lowest price is not always the best deal. You may find a company that promises to solve your pest problem for a low price, but you won’t save any money if they don’t get the job done right the first time. Always remember that if something is too good to be true, it probably is. 
  9. Contracts: When hiring a pest control operator or exterminator, you have to discuss all your options with the pest technician or sales rep. Will quarterly service be enough to solve the problem or will you need monthly visits? Figure out the best maintenance schedule that works for you and clarify all questions before you sign off on a contract. 
  10. Chemicals: Many cases require the use of chemicals for pest eradication, but your pest technician should be willing to discuss the chemicals they plan to use, non-chemical options, and possible effects on human health. The chemicals should also be properly labelled and have a clean appearance. 
  11. Services: Before performing any service, your pest technician should discuss the problem with you thoroughly. They should ask questions until they fully understand the issue, then inspect your property to identify the pest and come up with a treatment plan. 
  12. Documentation: Qualified pest technicians should provide a detailed report after completing a service. It should contain necessary follow-up actions, service costs, and any customer advice. 
  13. Guarantee: Although many companies in the pest control industry offer guarantees, there could always be a fine print you should be aware of. Familiarize yourself with what your responsibilities are and how to invoke the guarantee when necessary. 

Positive Pest Management: NYC’s Pest Experts 

If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to get rid of termites, bed bugs, carpenter ants, roaches, rats, and other pests, look no further than Positive Pest Management. 

Positive Pest Management is a full service pest control company serving the New York and Long Island areas. As a pest control service, we are experienced in figuring out long-term solutions to keep pests out of commercial, residential, and industrial properties. We guarantee quick and quality extermination work for all our clients. Schedule a consultation with us today. 

Read more: Are NYC Landlords Responsible for Pest Control?