If you've ever felt a wave of dread at the sight of ants in your kitchen, you know the need for good pest control management. A few insects on their own are easy enough to deal with, but the threat of a deeper problem might push you to take action.
But what to do? You could browse your local hardware store or online shop for sprays, traps, and essential oils for the good old do-it-yourself approach. This may take care of the immediate problem, but DIY pest control solutions may not be enough to prevent future infestations. For the sake of your home (or yard), it may be time to consider hiring a pest control company.
Pest control companies tend to provide more thorough and reliable services than what you might accomplish on your own. Depending on your situation, trusted experts with the right certifications, training, and overall experience might be better equipped to tackle your pest problem.
Unless, say, you know the detailed ins and outs of rodent behavior?
"There are many benefits to going with a pest control company that has first-hand experience with the problem you are facing," says expert and Critter Control district manager Brandon Thorsell. "While many pests seem to result in the same nuisances to homeowners, there are some key behavioral differences between, say, rats and raccoons that are important to understand in order to perform removal adequately for each pest."
DIY pest control vs. hiring a professional
Once you catch wind of insects or rodents taking up residence, it's time to take action. At first glance, hiring a professional pest control company may seem like an expensive or unnecessary investment. There are plenty of DIY solutions to find online or on store shelves, such as the simple outdoor recipes for natural pesticides outlined by the Peace Corps.
And yes, DIY treatments can be great for a low-stakes pest problem: a few insects spotted indoors or signs of pesky critters munching on your garden. But what happens when something minor grows into something bigger?
Taken at face value, the price of hiring a professional pest control company is higher than any DIY strategy. Most store-bought pest solutions like insect repellant or rodent traps are reasonably priced; you're unlikely to spend more than $100 for a single DIY pest project.
But professional pest control businesses are perfect for tackling large, stressful, confusing or bothersome pest infestations. Trained and certified technicians from a trusted company have the means (and know-how) to free your home of invaders you may not never know are there: Ant colonies, bedbugs, termites, cockroaches, rodents, birds and more. Proper pest control management is all about the long term, which is why plans from these companies that offer detailed inspections and repeat follow-up visits are so important.
While pest control companies can cost many times more depending on certain factors (the size and location of your home, the type and extent of infestation), the real question is which solution will best resolve your situation. If your unwanted guests keep returning, you could end up spending more in the long run on repeated home remedies.
Our best pest control companies of 2023
Don't waste your time hunting down insect repellant or rodent traps at your local hardware store. Instead, deal with a frustrating pest infestation by calling the professionals. Here are our top picks for the best pest control companies that are worth your time (and money) in 2023.
- Best overall: Terminix
- Best free inspections: Massey Services
- Best eco-friendly treatments: Orkin
- Best plan variety: Truly Nolen
- Best targeted insect plans: Mosquito Joe
- Best customer experience: Aptive
Some companies have a legacy built around top-quality customer service and environmentally friendly treatment tactics. Others draw you in still with flexible plans that can be cobbled together for the ideal (and cost-effective) solution to your home's latest pest problem. Learn more about why these top-rated pest control companies should be your first priority over DIY solutions below.
Best overall: Terminix
For a comprehensive solution to most common insect or rodent infestations, Terminix has a number of great pest control plans. Its trained technicians can help put a stop to the spread of ants, bed bugs, mosquitos, ticks, termites, and more -- but not before setting you up with a free inspection.
Prices start at $249 for one-time treatments (including free follow ups should any intruders return during the first 30 days after a treatment) or $149 per quarter for long-term plans.
Best free inspections: Massey Services
If you reside in one of the nine states serviced by Massey Services, your home and garden are in luck. Homeowners in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Oklahoma have access to an array of pest management solutions from this nearly 40-year old business.
Like Terminix, Massey Services is another heavy hitter in the pest management game that offers free inspections. This can help you grasp the full extent of your pest problem and avoid any unpleasant surprises down the line such as future infestations. This pest control company also supports environmentally friendly pest management techniques as a voluntary member of the EPA's Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program (PESP).
Prices begin at around $200 for single treatments. If you're interested in monthly pest control treatments, expect to pay between $30 and $85 per month for the Basic Pest Services plan.
Best eco-friendly treatments: Orkin
With its A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and over 100 years in business, Orkin is a top contender when it comes to quality service. Here you'll find treatment plans that are all about the habits, weaknesses, and life cycles of whatever type of pest is giving your home grief.
Called Integrated Pest Management services, or IPM, these techniques balance common-sense practices with non-chemical solutions to deliver the best pest control strategy for most any situation. Professionals like the technicians that work at Orkin's more than 400 locations nationwide can handle delicate situations like a termite or rodent infestation with minimal health hazards to you or your family.
Prices vary based on a number of factors, but starting prices for annual plans that come with repeat visits and your choice of eco-friendly treatment options begin around $45 per month. One-time services can cost anywhere from $250 to $550, while specialty treatments like bed bug control typically start at $500.
Best plan variety: Truly Nolen
Another proponent of IPM techniques, Truly Nolen is a family-owned pest control company with locations in more than 20 states. This company has you covered with its Four Seasons Pest Control plan, which deals with a variety of infestation types.
Common insects and pests like ants, spiders, fleas, ticks, wasps, and mice are covered here. Some less common tiny intruders that are just as vulnerable to this pest control's tactics include beetles, boxelders, caterpillars, earwigs, and silverfish.
Like most of our picks, prices at Truly Nolen can be split into one-time treatments or recurring services. Custom plans cost $45 and up per month, while a single day of service start at $300.
Best targeted insect plans: Mosquito Joe
If you're inundated with a particular kind of infestation, you want a pest control company that offers the right kind of expertise. If your home is seemingly under attack by mosquitos, ticks, fleas, or other outdoor insects, look for a Mosquito Joe location in your area.
With over 170 locations across the US, this company has the equipment and techniques to get the job done quickly and efficiently. Take your pick of water-based pesticides (applied through barrier spray treatments that keep mosquitos at bay for around 21 days at a time) or natural treatments. The latter replaces the harsh pesticide chemicals with certain essential oils -- an effective pest repellant.
Mosquito Joe services cost upwards of $150 for a one-time visit. If you need pest control experts who return on a regular basis to keep mosquitos and other pests at bay, long-term plans start at $75 per visit.
Best customer experience: Aptive
Rounding out our list of top pest control companies for an unparalleled customer experience is Aptive. This relatively new addition to the pest management scene (Aptive was founded in 2015) offers customers custom-built plans to handle any infestation.
Rather than tackle an infestation problem yourself and hope for the best, consider one of Aptive's pest control solutions for year-round protection. Aptive technicians work with you to evaluate your property and pick the right pest management plan for your situation. We're talking detailed treatments for the bedroom, kitchen, garage, or basement, as well as barrier treatments around your entire home.
The price of Aptive's Seasonal Pest Control Service starts at around $550 for the year, but variations in your chosen plan (and infestation situation) could affect that.
Benefits of professional pest control services
Some types of pest infestations only get worse the longer they linger. Rodents and termites can cause permanent structural damage, while flying insects like psychodidae, or drain flies, can quickly grow from mild nuisance to the source of worsened allergies and moldy fruits and vegetables if left to multiply.
Professional pest control services can be your ticket to quickly and efficiently resolving these issues -- before the situation gets out of hand. If you're still on the fence, here are some of the most notable benefits that come with hiring a professional.
Proactive pest management
A big part of pest control is making sure unwanted insects and rodents stay away once they're kicked out of your house or yard. DIY pest control treatments can be limited when it comes to this kind of long-term solution. Typically, you're already reacting to the sight of unwanted pests when tackling the problem yourself. Traps and sprays might help in the moment for insects like carpenter ants, spiders, or bed bugs, as well as rodents -- but will do little to prevent future infestations.
"Even if you can handle the initial removal on your own, you never know what kind of nests the pests have left behind or what damage they have done that you cannot see," Thorsell says. "Having a trained technician investigate and complete any repairs can also be very beneficial for preventing repeat infestations."
Ouroffer plans that include follow-up treatments (monthly, quarterly, or annually). These can take the worry off your shoulders when it comes to pest prevention.
Top notch pest control techniques and equipment
When you go the DIY route, your anti-pest arsenal may be limited to what is available online. Physical pest control methods like bait traps, adhesive strips or fly tape, and perimeter traps are common finds -- but they won't do much to tackle an infestation at its source (or prevent future pest activity).
When you invite a team of pest control professionals to take care of the problem, they typically bring pesticides and equipment that's a step up from what you buy yourself. Pest control companies like Orkin make sure their technicians are expertly trained to use both chemical and non-chemical methods to effectively and safely take care of any pest problem.
With a reliable pest control company, you're also working with professionals well versed in different types of insects, rodents, and infestations. Instead of relying on your own internet research (or worse -- a hunch), look for local companies that offer the specialized services you need.
"Certain pests, wildlife removal, for example, require special licenses and skill sets," says Jim McHale, president of JP McHale Pest Management, LLC (which services the greater New York City area). "Subterranean termite mitigation and aquatic pest control would fall into that category as well."
Instead of tackling a termite infestation with borax, a wish, and a prayer, consider a comprehensive termite control plan by Terminix. Heavy suspicion of bed bugs on your mind? Root out the problem with detailed bed bug control services by Orkin. Dealing with aquatic pests like water bugs? Ask around to find professionals that meet your state's requirements. New York state, for example, requires a number of aquatic pesticide permits.
What every homeowner deserves: Better health
Pest control companies can shoulder the responsibilities that come with an infestation. Figuring out the best removal strategy, picking out the right pesticides, monitoring traps, and looking for nests -- clear your plate of these responsibilities by hiring a professional.
The peace of mind that comes with knowing you're in good hands shouldn't be overstated. Trying to solve a pest problem on your own can start out as a headache and quickly snowball into a big problem if you fail to root out the cause or eliminate a full infestation during the first go round.
With a professional pest management company, you can also let go of concerns about the risks to you, your family, or your home should an infestation go unchecked. Insects like ticks, fleas, and mosquitos can carry unwanted diseases and termites can do a lot of structural damage over time.
"Health risks and property damage are also strong indicators of the need for expert intervention," says CEO at Black Pest Prevention Nicole Carpenter. "For example, pests like rodents, mosquitoes, and cockroaches can pose health concerns, while termites and rodents can cause structural damage and may be difficult to get rid of."
Potential downsides to professional pest control
Pest control companies may have your back when it comes to thorough or long-term pest control, but there are times when the alternative might be better. In the end, your pest situation (pestuation?) will determine which course of action is the right fit.
The size and extent of your infestation is important. Are you looking up local pest control companies because of a few bold ants roaming around your kitchen? Then a short-term DIY pest control treatment may be all you need. If $10 to $30 for ant traps or a can of bug spray is enough to pull a vanishing act on rogue intruders, you might fix your pest problem and save hundreds by staying away from professional services.
Of course, there's always the risk that you failed to take care of an infestation at its source. Unwanted pests like ants, rodents, and termites can linger on in the unseen world of your home (in the walls, tucked away an attic, underground, etc.). If you take care of business and notice unwelcome visitors keep coming back, it may be time to call in the pest control cavalry.
One other factor to consider when researching the best pest control companies: Chemicals and pesticides. Companies typically use trained pros who know how to safely use certain pesticides, but some of these chemicals may come with certain health risks. One example is the moderately increased risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia that has been linked to professional pest control treatments conducted before, during, and immediately after pregnancy.
The CDC lists substances that make up many pesticides and their associated risks, including those commonly used by professional companies: pyrethrins and pyrethroids, which are naturally-occurring and manufactured chemicals, respectively. Pyrethroids are more commonly used in the US, but carry a higher risk of toxicity to humans and animals.
That's not to say DIY treatments are without risk. According to the EPA, exposure to pesticides of all kinds -- yes, that means the stuff you can buy in stores -- can potentially lead to health effects ranging from irritation to the throat and eyes to more serious problems due to chronic exposure, such as damage to the liver or kidneys. Keeping indoor spaces clean and following manufacturer's directions closely will help to reduce exposure.
When comparing professional pest control companies, look for full transparency about pesticides they use. Make sure you're on the same page about which treatments would be used. Some companies offer integrated pest management (IPM) treatments, which are environmentally friendly and tend to be more thorough.
How to find the best pest control company
If it's something small like a single lost wasp or a handful of fruit flies congregating around your kitchen sink, consider tackling the problem yourself. Sometimes a few strategically placed fly traps may be all you need. Drain flies, for example, which can be as frustrating to deal with as they are common, can sometimes be rooted out by pouring boiling water down the drain to flush out a breeding site.
If a short-term DIY pest control treatment doesn't quite cut it (drain flies may come back, after all, with a vengeance if you don't regularly clean and unclog drainpipes), it's time to hire a professional company.
McHale laid out some important questions to ask a pest control company before striking a deal:
"How long have you been in business? Do you have references? Is there a money back guarantee if I am unsatisfied or [the] problem is not resolved? Most companies do this as it eliminates risk on [the] client's end. Are they licensed and insured?"
Look for tenured legacies that mean a company has been perfecting their techniques over the years. Prioritize licenses and certifications, which vary by state — one example is the Pesticide Applicator/Technician Certification for New York state. Most professional companies do offer some kind of money back guarantee. Orkin boasts a 30-day guarantee for anything less than 100% satisfaction (and free repeat visits if pests return in between scheduled treatments); the Terminix Ultimate Protection Guarantee offers a similar 30-day promise for their services.
How we picked the best pest control companies
Choosing the best pest control company for the job requires a bit of nuance. Pest problems will vary from one home to the next, so instead of zeroing in on a one-size-fits-all solution we focused on a few key factors.
- Pest control techniques: We looked for companies that provide a variety of treatment options to tackle a range of different pest-related scenarios. Targeted services, year-round plans, and environmentally friendly methods were prioritized.
- Availability: If you're nowhere near any of a pest control company's locations, you're going to keep looking for someplace closer. We stuck with pest management companies with service areas that are spread out across more than one state.
- Plan prices: The biggest pro to DIY solutions over a professional company is the short-term savings. That's why we took into consideration the costs of different services, methods, and plans when picking the best pest control companies.
- Customer service: We kept our eyes peeled for companies that were accredited by the BBB, which ones could boast positive reviews, and which ones had consistently reliable customer service. Any company offering round-the-clock customer support or same-day services (which Orkin does so long as you call before 12pm) held our attention.
How much does it cost to hire a professional pest control company? What about for DIY treatments?
Prices for pest management services vary, with the average cost for basic extermination services ranging from $50 to $500. We found that treatment plans from big-name companies fit this category; Terminix plans, for example, start at $249 for one-time service or $149 per quarter for, well, quarterly pest control service. DIY treatments cost much less in the short-term -- with some exceptions for specialty products like the $90 bed bug extermination spray by SayByeBugs. DIY can get expensive, however, if repeat pests call for multiple home treatments.
How long does a pest control treatment last?
Most companies offer pest control treatments that last between 30 and 90 days. Conditions like the type of pests and pesticides being used, as well as outside factors like heavy rain, can affect these timeframes.
How do I prevent a pest infestation on my own?
In addition to DIY solutions, you can tackle a pest infestation by removing sources of food, water, or shelter for your unwanted guests. Keep food in sealed containers and garbage in tightly covered trash cans. Don't ignore leaky faucets or clogged drains during those weekly deep cleans. Lastly, look for — and seal — easy entry points like baseboard cracks or doorframes with gaps. If all else fails, start calling around for the best pest control company in your area to handle any and all preventative pest control needs.
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