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Purchase Tickets Now for "Autumn in the Garden" Tour & Market Presented by Master Gardeners San Diego
Some Highlights at "Autumn in the Garden" Tour Stops
Apply Now to be a Master Gardener
To Market, To Market for Garden Goods
When Weevils Attack, Tough Plants Wilt
The Cool - Season Vegetable Garden: Carrots
Debugging Your Home: Tips on Hiring a Pest Control Company

Community Gardens: A Growth Spurt Continues
Yes - You Can Can
The ERGO Gardener:
A Series of Ergonomic Gardening Tips
Tip 3: It'll Be There Tomorrow

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Debugging Your Home: Tips on Hiring a Pest Control Company

By Vincent Lazaneo

When it’s hot, the bugs are out – and often, in. Ants and other household pests can be a nuisance, but it’s important to give careful thought on how you control them to protect your family and the environment.ants

Many indoor pests can be controlled without using dangerous chemicals. Tips on how to control common pests with non-chemical methods and least-toxic products are available on the UC Integrated Pest Management website, www.ipm.ucdavis.edu. There you will find a collection of UC Pest Notes on home invaders including ants, cockroaches, fleas, flies, pantry pests, spiders and termites.

If you are thinking about hiring a pest control service to treat household or garden pests, here are some tips
Do you need to hire a professional?
Ask yourself if the problem is something you can tolerate. Termites can seriously damage a house, but ants and spiders are usually only an occasional nuisance indoors. You may be able to safely and effectively treat the problem yourself by sealing openings to exclude pests from your home or make other changes that will control the problem over the long term and avoid the need for chemical control.

Inquire before you hire.
Ask people you know for recommendations and contact at least 3 companies.  Ask each what types of services they offer. Do they provide only a monthly spray contract or do they offer an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach? Are least-toxic pesticides or baits used when appropriate?  Ask if you can contact other clients who had a problem like yours.

Look for a license.
Pest control companies and individuals making household treatments must operate with a license issued by the State Structural Pest Control Board. You can verify the status of a company’s license online at http://www.pestboard.ca.gov/license.shtml.  

Individuals operating a landscape maintenance business and also performing incidental pest control must possess a Qualified Applicator’s Certificate (QAC) or Qualified Applicator’s License (QAL) issued by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. You can verify a certificate or license online at www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/license/currlic.htm.

Also inquire if a company has general liability and workers’ compensation insurance and check their rating with the Better Business Bureau, www.sandiego.bbb.org .black widow

Request an inspection.
Whether or not a company charges a fee for inspections, they should provide you with an identification of the pest or diagnosis of the problem. They should also show you where the pest is causing the problem and discuss how they plan to control it. This is your opportunity to inquire about alternative treatments that may be safer.  An estimate of the cost for different service options should be provided.

Ask about pesticides.
If a company wants to apply a pesticide, ask what active ingredients it contains and the effect on people, pets and the environment. Ask if there are specific label instructions on applying the product safely or precautions to follow after treatment. You can request a copy of a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) from a company for each pesticide they will use.

Vincent Lazaneo Urban Horticulture Advisor for UC Cooperative Extension.  He helped found the San Diego County Master Gardener Association more than two decades ago and serves as its advisor. He is the author of numerous articles on plants and pests that appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune, California Garden and other publications