San Francisco Department of the Environment

Choosing a Pest Control Company

There are two varieties of pest control services: Landscape and structural.  For landscape IPM, consider using Bay Friendly Landscape Maintenance Specifications in your contract, check for the right licensing (#1 below), and ask the right questions (#3 below), To choose a structural pest control company (for pests in and around buildings), follow all three steps:

1) Confirm the pest control company is licensed.

Structural pest control:
All companies controlling pests in and around buildings are regulated by the California Structural Pest Control Board. You can check whether a company has appropriate licenses, and view their record of violations.

Landscape pest control:
Make sure that on pest management staff have either a Qualified Applicator License or an Agricultural Pest Control Advisor license (check state listings).

2) Look for a certified company (structural pest control only).

Seek third-party certified companies that follow Integrated Pest Management principles.

 If no certified companies are available in your area, review company surveys.

3) Ask the right questions.

  • Does the company try alternative approaches before turning to pesticides?
  • If they want to apply a pesticide (insecticide, fungicide, or herbicide) can they explain their reasons in an understandable way?
  • What kinds of preventive practices do they use?
  • If they have to use pesticides, how do they select least toxic products?
  • Do they use regular chemical treatments to prevent problems or treat only when weed, disease or insect threshold levels are exceeded?
  • Can they explain what will happen if the pesticide is not applied?

Additional questions can be found at Beyond Pesticides or Biointegral Resource Center.