Shop around -
Ask friends, neighbors or business associates for names of firms who have done a good job. Get bids from several companies and select by value, not price. Be wary of special deals--cutting corners on your safety is no bargain.
Find comprehensive program -
Avoid firms that "spray and split." Look for companies that offer a complete service. For instance, a thorough lawn care program will include soil analysis, fertilizing, seeding and aeration along with advice for homeowner care for the lawn's watering and mowing. Competent pest control operators will outline a program that identifies pests to be controlled, the extent of infestation, pesticides intended for use and steps you can take to minimize future infestations.
Ask to see a license - All pest control and lawn care companies are required to be licensed by the Maine Board of Pesticides Control (BPC). Also, a certified and licensed applicator must be on site whenever pesticides are applied for hire or in public places. Make sure a company representative shows you a current license, or contact the BPC at 207-287-2731.
Check references -
A company that wants your business may offer several references, but don't depend entirely on the salesperson's pitch. Check the company's track record with Maine's Better Business Bureau in Portland (207-878-2715).
Check insurance -
Maine law requires every professional pesticide application firm to carry general liability insurance.
Check for professional associations -
Professional associations usually train members on the latest developments in sustainablility, technology, safety, research and regulations. They also require members to follow codes of ethics. So, if a pest control or lawn care company belongs to a professional association-be it local, state or national-it's likely the firm shows a commitment to integrity. The Maine Landscape and NurseryAssociation certifies some of its professionals in Sustainable Landscaping.
Get a written contract -
Be sure of the following before you sign on the dotted line:
Make sure the contract says the pest control operator or lawn care company promises to inspect your home or lawn before applying pesticides. Avoid companies which apply pesticides on a fixed schedule without regard for the extent of your pest problem, if any.
Review the labels of pesticides and discuss techniques the applicator intends to use. Ask if less-toxic alternatives are available. Also inquire about special instructions you should follow to reduce your exposure.
Note safety concerns in the contract. It should recognize family members with allergies, infants or the elderly and pets. Choice of pesticides needs to reflect these concerns. You may want to include a statement that allows you to reject unwanted products.
Agree to a contract that is effective for a fixed period of time. This commits the company to establish a custom-tailored plan for pest control and not just carry out one or several treatments.