Looking to hire a bed bug exterminator in Philadelphia?
Perfect, you’re in the right spot. In this guide, you’ll learn:
What qualities are essential in a Philly bed bug exterminator?
Does Pennsylvania require any licensing for exterminators?
What questions should you ask an exterminator in Philadelphia before hiring?
What are some qualities to avoid in a Philadelphia bed bug exterminator?
Bed bugs are an increasingly severe issue in many major cities throughout the United States, but Philadelphia is commonly found to be one of the largest hot spots for bed bug infestations in the country. The high population density and prevalence of multi-family housing is likely a major contributing factor, and the lack of protocol for dealing with bed bugs until recently has also led to high infestation rates.
The need for a reputable bed bug exterminator in Philly is high. However, in a city with countless pest control companies, it can be challenging to hire one that has extensive experience and fits the unique needs of your home or business.
Below, we’re going to discuss the qualities to look for and those to avoid when choosing a bed bug exterminator in Philadelphia. We’ll also go over some questions you can ask your exterminator to get a better sense of how effectively they’ll treat your bed bug infestation.
What Should You Look For When Hiring An Exterminator For Bed Bugs In Philadelphia?
There are a few key qualities you should be looking for in a pest control company. These won’t guarantee that you’ll hire an exterminator who will eradicate bed bugs in your home or apartment, but they will help eliminate some companies that are less likely to provide adequate treatment.
Most importantly, you should look for a company that has experience. Pest control companies are plentiful in big cities like Philly, so an exterminator who has been around for years and has found a lasting customer base is more likely to be familiar with effective pest management practices.
The recent changes to bed bug legislation have created a surge in reported infestations and pesticide applications. Where there is the opportunity for growth, there are bound to be new companies forming to keep up with demand.
A budding pest control company forming in response to the increased workload could be just as effective as a veteran exterminator, but there is a better chance that their inexperience will mean an inadequate treatment.
An exterminator’s longevity in the industry is also a good indication that they are familiar with the unique habits and feeding routines of bed bugs and have exterminated them successfully in the past. In a hot spot like Philadelphia, every exterminator is bound to work with bed bugs often, so general experience usually means more experience with bed bugs specifically as well.
They Specialize in Bed Bug Extermination
It’s important to note that experience isn’t everything when it comes to getting rid of bed bugs. The best practices for eradicating bed bugs change with time and developing research, so even a company that has been around for many years may not be using the most effective treatments.
Bed bugs are unique, and their feeding rituals and hiding places are unlike those of carpenter ants, termites, cockroaches, and other common household pests. As such, exterminating them requires more than general pest knowledge.
A company that specializes in exterminating bed bugs will often be a better fit for solving your problem. A pest control professional in the Philadelphia area should be completing multiple bed bug exterminations every week, if not every day. They will know to use proper monitoring devices that are specific to bed bugs, and they’ll have current knowledge of how to handle your pest problem.
This isn’t to say you should avoid companies who handle other pest infestations altogether, but be wary of those who treat bed bugs like any other insect.
They Require an Inspection Before Agreeing to Service
Even adult bed bugs only reach the size of an apple seed, and they usually come out at night to find food sources. Their size and habits make them challenging to identify. Knowledgeable professionals can’t always confirm their presence without monitoring devices, and homeowners may struggle to do so, given their lack of experience.
You may believe a bite received in your sleep is proof of bed bugs, but other pests can feed on you at night. Bites can’t even be confirmed by a healthcare professional, so they aren’t definitive and will require further investigation. The bottom line is that no experienced and ethical pest control company will trust that there are bed bugs present just because you think your home is infested.
Instead, a reputable exterminator should require a thorough, professional inspection first and might even develop a treatment that reduces the amount of pesticides needed.
They may provide a general quote based on their expertise and knowledge of common infestations, but their commitment to treat your home and final pricing should be dependent on their inspection of your bed bug problem.
They Offer A Treatment Plan
Many inexperienced pest control companies rely on a single application of pesticides to eradicate bed bugs. Bed bugs hide in hard-to-reach places, like in your box spring, in crevices behind picture frames, in electrical outlets, and behind your headboard. As such, one-time treatments are unlikely to reach the bed bugs in their hiding spaces.
It’s a good sign if the exterminator you’re considering offers to develop a treatment protocol personalized for your home. It indicates that they understand the difficulty involved with getting rid of bed bugs, especially in an area with high infestation rates like Philadelphia.
They Prepare You For Multiple Treatments and Inspections
Bed bugs can be pervasive and recurring problems in hot spots like Philly, so you should find an exterminator who understands the need to carry out multiple inspections and treatments.
Pest control companies that are experienced with getting rid of bed bugs will expect to have to return to your home regularly. They will need to check their monitoring devices for activity, relocate the devices as needed, and apply pesticides multiple times for the best and most thorough treatment.
An exterminator that expects to frequent your home after the first time spraying and until the job is confirmed to be done is far more likely to provide adequate service for you.
Are There Specific Licenses For Bed Bug Removal In Philadelphia PA?
Any exterminator using commercial or restricted-use pesticides must be registered as a Commercial Pesticide Technician with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
Registration and licensing requirements include passing two written tests and being employed by a registered business. Recertification is necessary once every three years so that each exterminator is entirely up to date with current pesticide best practices and safety measures.
Additionally, any business that employs a Commercial Pesticide Technician can also employ a Registered Pesticide Technician, who may act under the supervision of the former.
Check with the PA Department of Agriculture before calling exterminators to see if there are any additional or new licenses or qualifications they require.
What Questions Should You Ask A Bed Bug Exterminator In Philadelphia Before Hiring?
When you’re searching for a reputable exterminator to treat your bed bug problem, there are several questions you can ask to help determine how knowledgeable and thorough they will be.
Are You Licensed?
Most importantly, ask if the exterminator is licensed. Many homeowners and renters avoid this question because they think it’s unnecessary. We always recommend asking about licensing and avoiding companies who don’t employ a registered Commercial Pesticide Technician.
A commercial license is required to handle restricted-use pesticides and apply them safely as a business. Asking this question helps protect you, your family, and the environment.
Can You Give Pricing Over the Phone?
Next, we recommend asking the exterminator if they can provide a quote for service over the phone. This is a bit of a trick question, as a reputable company will decline or offer general pricing with the caveat that your price may differ once they inspect your property in person.
As we mentioned earlier, bed bugs are very challenging to identify, even for professionals, and no pest control specialist should take your word that you have a bed bug infestation. They should insist on an initial inspection before making any decisions about whether or not your home should be treated and what the best process for pesticide application will be.
Offering a quote over the phone isn't necessarily bad practice, but be on the lookout for companies that offer one guaranteed price for every customer. This is usually a good sign that they won’t provide the most effective treatment.
When Can You Begin Applying Pesticides?
Next, we recommend you ask when the application process can begin. An experienced exterminator will know the challenges of identifying a bed bug infestation and will often rely on monitoring systems to find bed bugs and determine their habits within your house or apartment.
Without seeing your home firsthand, it’s very challenging to give a timeline for treatment. An experienced technician will first carry out an in-person inspection and schedule service if they can confirm the presence of bed bugs. If they can’t, they may install monitoring devices and leave them for some time to detect bed bugs.
Interception devices are the most reliable monitoring systems for identifying bed bugs, and the best devices commonly take two weeks to confirm the presence of bed bugs.
In a hot spot like Philadelphia, professionals may be able to provide a general timeline, given the higher chance of a bed bug infestation. However, most will require a monitoring period first.
What Can You Do in the Meantime?
Most homeowners and apartment dwellers don’t want to hear that pesticides won’t be sprayed for two weeks while they deal with something biting them in their sleep. A reputable pest control company will sympathize with your situation and often offer interim solutions to your problem.
An experienced exterminator may offer heat treatments or preemptive dustings, which are light applications of pesticides to begin treatment sooner. They can include additional visual inspections while their interception devices are monitoring your home in an effort to identify bed bugs sooner. They might also recommend mattress or box spring encasement to help limit the number of bites you experience in your sleep.
If an exterminator will be delayed in treatment, they might recommend regular vacuuming to remove visible bed bugs. If vacuums are used, remember to dispose of the filter or empty the vacuum into an outside garbage can, as bed bugs can live inside of vacuums.
To learn more about common interim services, check out this instructional video:
Do You Offer a Guarantee or Warranty?
Bed bugs are challenging to eradicate, especially in an area with a high infestation rate like Philadelphia. However, the best pest control companies will stand behind their work with a guarantee or warranty.
The best bed bug exterminators will offer some kind of promise that bed bugs will be entirely removed from your home.
Red Flags To Watch Out For Before Hiring A Bed Bug Exterminator In Philadelphia?
Knowing what to look for in a bed bug exterminator is helpful for finding a reputable company, and there are also some things to avoid when searching for the most effective pest solution. Below are some red flags to be on the lookout for during the interviewing process.
They Offer Guaranteed Pricing or General Service Over the Phone
You should avoid exterminators who offer a definitive quote for service over the phone. Agreeing to spray pesticides without proof that bed bugs are present is unethical, and no exterminator can be confident that you have a bed bug infestation without an inspection. Homeowners and apartment dwellers often cannot effectively identify bed bugs, and no doctor or dermatologist can confirm that a bite on your skin is from a bed bug by looking at it.
Experienced technicians will require an inspection before providing an accurate quote for service. Not doing so also likely means that their treatment plan isn’t specific to your home like it should be.
Unfortunately, even in hot spots like Philadelphia, some companies may treat bed bugs like any other pest. This type of one-size-fits-all service is often unreliable and ineffective for treating bed bugs. Be on the lookout for companies that provide a general treatment or a guaranteed, specific number of services to everyone.
They Recommend Heavy Preparation
In the pest control industry, preparing a home for bed bug treatment was considered the standard and best practice for decades. Preparation often included stripping and washing bedding, removing clutter from under the bed, clearing closets, drawers, and dressers, and sometimes standing up mattresses and box springs before spraying.
While this isn’t technically wrong, it isn’t considered best practice any longer. Experts now know that this kind of heavy preparation can cause bed bugs to stir, move from their hiding places, and relocate to other parts of your home. Making the bugs scatter can make pesticide treatments less effective, often extending the time it takes for adequate treatment.
If an exterminator gives you a long list of things to do to prepare your home that involves potentially disrupting bed bugs, it’s a good sign that they aren’t up to date on best practices and may not provide the most effective treatment for you.
Final Thoughts on Hiring Bed Bug Exterminators in Philadelphia
Finding an experienced, licensed, and effective bed bug exterminator in Philadelphia is crucial, especially with the large number of infestations in the city. Interview pest control companies and find one that employs a licensed Commercial Pesticide Technician who insists on an initial inspection before providing a quote for service.
The best treatment will often be done by an exterminator who uses monitoring devices to confirm the presence of bed bugs and discover how they move throughout your home. Choose one who will carry out multiple inspections and treatments and develop a treatment process specific to your home.
Avoid companies that offer service without an inspection, and be wary of those who ask for extensive preparation before spraying.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask questions. The more you know about how a company works and carries out treatment, the better you’ll understand how useful that treatment will be.