Most over-the-fence conversations with neighbors these days are about spring flowering plants, lawn care and insect control. The No. 1 insect discussed: termites.
This is the time of year when termites swarm and anxiety levels soar for fear of trying to control the pests. However, patience and a little detective work can help you uncover a certified licensed professional who will get the job done right the first time.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when interviewing potential candidates for your home's pest-control problems:
Almost every home will have a pest problem. Some can be taken care of by the homeowner with easy solutions, such as repairing screens and sealing openings under doors, or cleaning up debris and spilled food inside and outside the home.
Other jobs need the attention of a professional. Special chemicals have to be applied with calibrated equipment into areas impossible to reach by the homeowner. When the job requires a professional, do your homework. Ask friends, neighbors or co-workers for recommendations. Chances are many of them have had bug problems in the past. Do not depend solely on the companies and their advertising pitch. Part of their job is to make themselves look good.
Next, contact several of the companies you have heard positive things about. Invite them in and ask them to evaluate your situation. Each company will probably have a different story. Take time to review and completely understand each proposal.
Ask each company for references -- and use those references. If a company is not willing to share a success story with you, maybe it doesn't have one.
Listen to what the companies are proposing to do. Make sure their proposal makes sense. Ask them to prove what they are saying. Make them show you the nests, where the insects are hiding, or the damage being caused. Use this information to help decide if what is being done is actually necessary.
Take time to fully understand the guarantee offered. Be specific about what you, as the homeowner, need to do to keep the guarantee active. Find out if you need to schedule follow-up visits and what they will cost, pay any fees or repair damaged areas to keep the guarantee in good standing. The worst time to find out about guarantee restrictions or limitations is after re-infestation.
If a company is applying pesticides, make sure they are licensed to do so in Kansas. Kansas laws require that all persons and businesses applying chemicals for pay have to be registered with the Kansas Department of Agriculture. Their business license should be marked on the service vehicle. Likewise, businesses should have insurance. This is to protect you if something should go wrong. The Kansas Department of Agriculture's pesticide and fertilizer program can provide limited information about individual pest-control companies. It can be reached at (785) 296-3786.
Finally, gather all proposals and share them with friends and neighbors. Ask if they correspond with the service they received. If not, continue the search.