What to Ask an Exterminator
Good exterminators won’t give an estimate over the phone, so explain what’s going on, agree on an inspection fee, and catch, photograph, or videotape the offenders so the pro will have an idea of what to expect.

What long-term strategy will you use? Exterminators should provide a list of chemicals they’re using, and they should change them every three months because pests grow resistant.

How long till my hell is over? That depends on the scope of the problem, but don’t expect an overnight fix for any type of pest. “A lot of people think we can wave a wand,” says pro exterminator Vincent Errante. “It takes at least two months, and for a bad infestation, six months. That’s why it’s called pest management.”

Will I go broke paying for constant visits? Exterminators typically come once a month in the summer and bimonthly in colder weather; many will create a schedule based on your needs. After an infestation, keep them on for a while and ask how to spot signs of trouble so you can monitor the situation on your own.

Do you have any green options? Good exterminators use chemical and nonchemical methods to keep homes pest-free. “People think they need chemicals, but a lot of times there’s another solution. Mechanical and glue traps can sometimes do the job. For pantry pests, just remove the grains they’re feeding on.”

Are you going to inadvertently kill Fido? For homes with dogs or cats, Errante suggests avoiding snap traps or glue traps for mice and rats. “But tamper-resistant bait traps are okay,” Errante says. You can also use anticoagulant-based baits, which often have a bitter additive called Bitrex to keep pets away; if your pet eats the bait, your vet can give him a shot of vitamin K1 as an antidote.

How do I know I need you? “Rats are nocturnal, so if you see them during the day, that means they’re overgrowing their nest and you’ve got an infestation.” With bugs, a stray or two indoors isn’t always a problem, but if you notice them regularly, call a pro.
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