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Using Exterminators

- Sometimes you need help solving bug problems -

Summary: While we encourage people to do their own pest control, at some point you may need to hire an exterminator (they prefer the title pest control operator or pest control tech) to do complicated/hazardous procedures or if specialized equipment is needed. If you find yourself in this situation here are some suggestions for how to proceed.

Jack DeAngelis, PhD
OSU Ext. Entomologist (ret.)

Do you need an exterminator?

Most of the time we recommend that people do their own pest control projects around home. In fact this site is about helping you to identify and control pests in safe and responsible ways. We strongly recommend that you skip the periodic (monthly, quarterly) maintenance treatments that many pest control companies aggressively sell.

There are a few pest control situations, however, that do require the expertise and specialized equipment that a good exterminator can bring to the job. One such operation is tent fumigation (see photo right) for certain structural and warehouse pests. Other difficult operations are pre- and post-construction treatments for termites and some carpenter ant and powderpost beetle treatments (see Related Articles below).

tent used by exterminators

Tarp-style fumigation tent covering small warehouse. An example of a complicated/hazardous procedure involving specialized equipment. Photo by Art Antonelli


Except for these very special situations you probably don't need professional pest control services. Some people choose to have treatments every month as a "preventative" but this is unnecessary in my experience. You should only treat when there is a confirmed infestation and a written proposal can be made for how treatments will be done.

Rules for screening exterminators

We've developed some "rules" that you might want to consider when selecting and hiring an exterminator. Your first decision will be whether to hire a local company or one of the national franchise companies like Orkin or Terminix (see Local Company or Large Franchise?). Large, national companies may have access to equipment and expertise that smaller, local companies do not but large companies may also be less flexible and less responsive to your individual needs.


The choice between local and national franchise is often based on cost as local companies may be less expensive, versus job complexity and the need for highly specialized equipment like fumigation tenting (see Five Additional "Rules" to Consider Before Making A Decision). In either case resist the temptation and sales pressure to sign up for long-term contract service. Think of it this way - has a plumber ever asked you to sign a long-term contract?

If you do need a pest control estimate check here: Find a Local Exterminator/Pest Control Company.

Related Articles

What is Tent Fumigation for Structural Pests?

How to Treat Subterranean Termites



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Mission: To provide accurate, up-to-date and unbiased information for solving common insect and mite problems around your home, business and landscape using least-toxic methods.

Jack DeAngelis, PhD,  , email:  [email protected]

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