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What Pest Control Companies Use In Your Home & How to Find the Best Company

Many consumers have shared their concerns about the poisons being used in their homes to exterminate household pests. Emotions have been high since a Delaware family became severely ill during a stay in a St John, Virgin Islands resort.


Now there’s even more reason to ask questions. Not long ago, there were reports of a 10- year-old Florida boy being rushed to the hospital after his family’s home had been fumigated by a Terminix contractor, Sunland Pest Control. He had begun having uncontrollable muscle movements and was unable to speak or stand up. Weeks later, he was still hospitalized. The family’s attorney told CNN the young boy suffered a traumatic brain injury and loss of motor skills. The Pest Management Industry experienced shock, as their mission is your protection.

The home was being treated for termites. A Terminix spokesperson stated the gas normally used for this type of fumigation is sulfuryl fluoride. According to the National Pesticide Information Center, sulfuryl fluoride is commonly used to eliminate beetles, bedbugs, clothes moths, cockroaches, and rodents as well.

ABC News has reported that Terminix has since halted all fumigations across the country as they review safety procedures. The Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services, in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the state health department, is launching an investigation into Sunland’s practices.

Update:  The parent company of Terminix has agreed to pay $87 million to a Delaware family that was poisoned by a banned pesticide last year during a Caribbean vacation and may suffer lifelong effects.

How Could This Have Happened?

The U.S. Department of Justice is also launching an investigation in an effort to answer that very question. Pest Control is a 9.2 billion dollar market, and exterminator services account for 78% of it. For us at EarthKind, Inc., the concerns run even deeper.

As a company that manufactures natural pest control products, we would prefer that no one ever uses poisons in their home, but if they do — a licensed professional should be hired. We’re working hard to make that happen by providing our customers with products like Fresh Cab® and Stay Away®, guaranteed effective, natural pest repellents, and by providing preventive tips that keep homes free from rodents, ants, spiders and moths. But until we’ve reached every homeowner in the world, we think it’s important that you ask the right questions before you hire an exterminator.

What Do Pest Control Companies Use?

Different pests require different treatments and control methods, so it’s important to know what products pest control companies use for each situation. Here are some of the most common chemicals and pesticides that may be used: 

Pyrethrin: This natural compound is derived from chrysanthemum flowers and is commonly used to treat a variety of common pests, including flies, mosquitoes, fleas, ants, and moths.

Pyrethroids:  This class of synthetic pesticides is similar to pyrethrin and is often used as a more potent alternative. Pyrethroids are commonly used to treat mosquitos, bedbugs, cockroaches, ants, and sometimes lice.

Malathion: This organophosphate pesticide is man-made and is commonly used to treat mosquitoes, flies, and other nuisance pests, including ticks and fleas on pets.

Bacillus thuringiensis (BT): This biological pesticide is derived from a soil-dwelling bacterium and is effective against caterpillars, grubs, and other larval pests. One type of BT is also toxic to honeybees.

Fipronil: This broad-spectrum insecticide affects the central nervous system of pests and is commonly used to treat beetles, roaches, ants, fleas, ticks, weevils, termites, and many other insects.

Permethrin:  This synthetic pesticide is similar to pyrethrin and is often used as an alternative. Permethrin is commonly used to treat a variety of pests, including mosquitoes, scabies, and lice.

Piperonyl Butoxide: This man-made compound is commonly used in conjunction with other pesticides to increase their effectiveness but does not harm insects on its own. Piperonyl butoxide is often used with products that control mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, and lice. 

Indoxacarb:  This oxadiazine pesticide is a white powder that controls many insects but is most commonly used to treat cockroaches and ants, especially in agricultural applications.

Hydramethylnon: This slow-acting synthetic pesticide is commonly used to treat termites, crickets, ants, silverfish, cockroaches, and other nuisance pests. Social pests eat hydramethylnon and spread it to their colonies.

Boric acid: This compound is derived from boron and kills an insect after ingestion. Boric acid is used to treat insects that groom themselves, such as ticks, lice, fleas, moths, flies, beetles, spiders, and bed bugs.

As you can see, there are a variety of chemicals and pesticides that companies use to treat different pests. Each situation is unique, so it’s important to consult with a professional to determine the best course of action and if you’re comfortable with these chemicals in and around your home.

Top 12 Things to Check Before Hiring a Pest Control Company to Exterminate Your Home

1) Ask the pest control company you’re hiring or that’s been hired by a vacation property to verify its licensing. A licensed professional understands the correct handling of pesticides and treatment rates for targeted pests. You can verify the licensing of technicians by calling your state pesticide regulatory office.

You can also find out about violations, complaints, or unresolved issues this way. If you are visiting another country, find out which government agency oversees pesticides. Every country has one. Some are more vigilant than others.

2)  Does the company have a certified entomologist on staff?  An entomologist will ensure that their technicians are fully trained and aware of environmental and biological factors affecting the pest populations in that area.

3)  Does the company use the practice of Integrated Pest Management (IPA)? This is the most responsible approach to pest control, in which the technician utilizes a variety of techniques to reduce the need for chemicals used.

4)  Ask how many years they have been in the pest control business.

exterminator in home spraying chemicals

5)  How much experience does the company have in dealing with the infestation that you are having trouble with? In many cases, there are companies that excel in certain hard-to-control pests.

6)  Check with family, friends, coworkers, or neighbors for a recommendation.

7)  Call the local better business bureau to be sure there have been no complaints.

8)  Is the company willing to provide a written quote and offer a guarantee? Get a free quote and compare rates and services of at least three providers before making a decision. You can use this process to get a good feel for their level of service and the treatment plans they offer.

9)  Ask if they have insurance to cover you, your property, and their technicians.

10)  Verify the measures they take to protect your family from unintended consequences from their treatment.

11) Ask them to provide a list of the active ingredients in the products they use. A reputable and professional pest control company shouldn’t have any issues with giving you this information.

12) Ask if they have low-toxicity alternatives that can reduce personal and environmental risks.

Once you have selected a company, keep records of the company name, their contact information, and EPA registration numbers. Also, make a note of the pesticide formulation used, such as gels, baits, or dust, and where the treatment was applied — in crawl spaces, in the basement, attic, or lawn.

For more information on pesticides, and their safe use, here are two great sources:

National Pest Management Association

National Pesticide Information Center

Even if your pest problem is urgent, take your time to look for reputable and knowledgeable companies that meet your standards. You’ll be glad you did.

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