Industry Overview: Pest Control

by Matt Solis


Pest control is a year-round problem for Bay Area homeowners. Photo: Hydrex Pest Control of the North Bay, Inc. ©2021

The Bay Area’s moderate climate and abundant green space make pest control a year-round problem. At any given time, residents may find their homes overrun with insects such as termites and fleas or confronting trespassing animals like mice and rats. While many are eager to eliminate potentially harmful pests, there are also concerns about the effects of pesticides on people and pets. In this article, we’ll demystify the pest control industry by defining key terms used by professionals, providing tips for a pest-free home and answering frequently asked questions about eliminating pests.

Key Terms for Pest Control

Broad spectrum: Something that affects a wide range or large number of organisms. In pest control, the term “broad spectrum” usually refers to broad spectrum insecticides or pesticides that kill a wide variety of insects.

Crack and crevice treatment: The application of pesticides into cracks and crevices with no residual effects on outside surfaces.

Insect growth regulator (IGR): A type of pesticide used to disrupt the normal development of certain insects.

Integrated pest management (IPM): A way to eliminate pests by using multiple control methods.

Pesticide: Any substance intended for preventing, destroying or repelling insects, rodents, nematodes, fungi, weeds, or other life forms declared to be pests. Also, any substance intended for use as a plant regulator, defoliant or desiccant.

Pesticide resistance: The genetic qualities of a pest population that enable individuals to resist the effects of certain types of pesticides that are toxic to other members of that species.

Repellent: A pesticide used to keep certain pests away from a treated area by saturating the area with an odor that’s disagreeable to the pest.

Toxicity: The potential a pesticide has for causing harm.

Tips for a Pest-Free Home

  1. Keep your house clean. Maintaining a clean house is the simplest way to avoid attracting pests. This is especially important in the kitchen, where sugar bowls and other food containers should be covered. Don’t forget to remove any food residue from counters, tables and floors at the end of the day.
  2. Maintain your landscape. When a tree or shrub is touching your house, it acts as a bridge for insects and rodents to gain access, so be sure to keep exterior vegetation well-trimmed. Also, check around your property for leaky hose spigots or sprinklers, which attract pests and waste water.
  3. Get regular professional inspections. While eliminating attractions will help keep pests at bay, their activity is often out of your control, like when wasps decide to build a nest under your home’s exterior eaves. A good way to consistently keep insect activity in check is to have a pest control specialist come out every couple of months and perform an inspection. Many pest control companies offer ongoing service agreements, so consider taking advantage of this if it’s available.

Pest Control FAQs

Q: Are pesticides always necessary to control pests?
A: No. Many pests can be managed by using less toxic formulations such as baits, dusts and microencapsulate pesticides that present less risk of human exposure. Talk to your pest control company about which alternative methods will be effective at controlling the pests in and around your home.

Q: What frequency of service is best?
A: It depends on your situation and the type of pest involved. Once your pest problems are eliminated, you may choose to retain periodic service, but that service should focus on inspection and spot treatment of pests (if and where they’re discovered) rather than routine pesticide application.

Q: Shouldn’t all the baseboards in my home be sprayed?
A: No—it’s unnecessary and it needlessly exposes people and pets to pesticide. Pests may live behind or inside baseboards, but never on them. If pesticides are applied, they should be applied to the cracks, crevices and voids where pests spend most of their time.

Q: How much should my pest control service cost?
A: The best way to determine that is to compare estimates from several companies. It can be unwise to hire a company that offers the lowest price because there are many other factors to consider, including licensing/certification and reputation. The more information you gather, the easier it will be to decide if the price is right.

Q: Are pesticides safe? What if I’m pregnant or I have small children?
A: No chemical is absolutely safe. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registers all pesticides after determining that each presents tolerable risk when used according to label directions. Any use inconsistent with a pesticide’s label is a punishable violation of federal law. In general, it’s the misuse of pesticides that’s hazardous, although the EPA recognizes that risks associated with pesticide exposure may be greater for pregnant women, children and infants, and they take this into account when registering pesticides. If you have any concerns about pesticide use, have your physician review the labels of pesticides that will be used in your home.

Q: Why should I choose a Diamond Certified pest control company? 
A: Diamond Certified helps you choose a pest control company with confidence by offering a list of top rated local companies that have passed the country’s most in-depth rating process. Only pest control companies rated Highest in Quality and Helpful Expertise earn the prestigious Diamond Certified award. Most companies can’t pass the ratings. American Ratings Corporation also monitors every Diamond Certified company with ongoing research and ratings. And your purchase is backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee, so you’ll feel confident choosing a Diamond Certified pest control company.