Pest Control versus Exterminator  

You may think the terms pest control and exterminator are interchangeable, but these are different services — often, totally different companies — that utilize a wide range of strategies to rid your home of pests.

So what’s the difference in pest control versus exterminator services?

The main difference is than an exterminator is only going to treat your home for the pests you can see, while pest control gets to the bottom of the pest problem, eliminating pests and preventing them for the future.

Pest control is more effective and long lasting than extermination and is, therefore, the preferred service.

Ultimately, their intentions are to get rid of bugs or rodents, but extermination is extreme and doesn’t always get the job done, while pest control will add a layer of protection to your home that you never realized you needed.

In the following sections, we’ll cover some similarities and differences between these two services and offer a recommendation for which one is best for your home.

Differences between pest control versus exterminator services

Pest control and extermination may have the same purpose, but these services are actually very different. They are, in fact, not interchangeable terms.

To best illustrate whether pest control or extermination is best for your situation, we’ll highlight the main differences between the two services below.

Key Features of Exterminators

Traditionally, calling an exterminator was the right thing to do when you had a pest problem. But the realization that most pest problems don’t go away after a single treatment has contributed to a decrease in the popularity of this service.

Here are a few issues with extermination alone:

  • Extermination is a one-time service.

At most, you may have a consultation, one or two treatments, and a follow-up. This does not give you time to establish a trusting relationship or give you any clues as to why pests have chosen to invade your home.

  • It doesn’t account for the future.

People usually call an exterminator out of panic when they’ve seen mice, termites or roaches (or something similarly unpleasant) and they want it removed immediately. It’s a knee-jerk reaction that leads to less-than-ideal results.

  • Exterminators use powerful pesticides to kill pests on contact.

While effective against pests, they can also cause breathing issues in people and pets. These products are often sprayed throughout the home to ensure all possible hiding spots are covered, which also means that more product than necessary is used.

  • Extermination services don’t usually grant their customers any guarantees.

You won’t hear an exterminator say that their services get rid of pests once and for all. As we’ve explained, extermination does not attempt to find the source of the problem, so it would be impractical for an exterminator to guarantee that the issue is resolved after a general treatment.

An exterminator may inspect your home in hopes of finding the point of entry, but many do not offer this as a part of their service.

Key Features of Pest Control

Pest control is a more complete option for getting rid of pests and keeping them at bay. Here are a few ways pest control differs from traditional extermination.

  • Pest control is a more encompassing term and service.

Whereas extermination is a one-and-done service, pest control is an ongoing partnership between homeowner and pest professional with the goal of preventing pests, not just getting rid of them.

A pest control expert will also work to find the cause of your pest problem so you hopefully never need full-blown extermination. They will examine your home and offer preventative advice for different times of year.

  • Pest control pros want feedback.

Because they have a vested interest in keeping your home pest-free, your pest control team will ask for information from you while also sharing their expertise.

You live in the home daily, but they only visit a few times of year, so you have much more insight into the pests day-to-day behaviors than they do.

  • The treatment will be less dangerous for your family.

The chemicals used to treat your home on a regular basis are less toxic and needed in much smaller amounts than what are used during extermination.

Although the pesticides used in extermination are deemed safe, you probably know the unpleasant chemical odor they leave behind all too well.

Breathing in these fumes can lead to respiratory issues like shortness of breath, and it can make chronic conditions like asthma worse.

  • Professional pest control providers are licensed and trained in many different techniques.

Based on the type of pest and where they are located, there may be a strategy that is more effective than another.

Also, given the layout of your home, certain inspection and treatment options may not be possible.

The right training can make all the difference in not only removing pests from your home, but keeping them out.

Similarities between extermination and pest control

You may wonder if there are any similarities between these two services at all. Because both services have the same ultimate goal — a pest-free home — it stands to reason that they do have some of the same characteristics.

One thing these two services have in common is the type of pests they target. All of the following are among the pest issues that can be addressed by both exterminators and pest control teams:

  • Rodents
  • Termites
  • Ants
  • Spiders
  • Cockroaches
  • Bats
  • Bed bugs
  • …and more

Anything larger than a rodent (raccoons, armadillos, skunks, etc.) may require the assistance of a wildlife removal specialist.

Another constant in pest control and extermination is the use of pesticides. Regardless of how much or how little, some amount of chemical pesticide is required in virtually every service.

Extermination is just one reason for pesticide use. Deterring pests is another common use. Pesticides may be sprayed inside or outside your home in either service, or the company may choose to use traps, powders, or cakes to attract and kill pests, all of which are still considered pesticides as well.

The gradual shift from extermination to pest control

As you can see, there are major advantages of pest control versus exterminator services. Over the years, there has been a shift from one-off extermination services to more comprehensive pest control.

Below are a few reasons why.

Safer for the environment and your family

Extermination is an intense treatment that involves strong chemicals applied inside the home, or anywhere pests have been spotted.

Gentler products used in moderation have less of an effect on your home’s air quality. After extermination, there is a strong chemical odor inside your home that takes days to dissipate.

These chemicals also find their way into ground water, contaminating water sources for animals and humans.

When less toxic products are used, they pose less of a risk to humans and nature whether indoors or outside.

Preserves important ecosystems

Every pest is a part of the outdoor ecosystem in your area. Just because they don’t belong inside your home doesn’t mean they need to be completely eliminated.  

Ants, spiders, scorpions and rodents have a place in the greater food chain and perform important jobs that keep the local environment thriving.

If you completely eliminate one part of that system or drive it away from its natural habitat, it can have serious implications on nearby plant and animal life.

Therefore, you need a pest control plan that will keep pests out of your home but still allow them to coexist peacefully outside your home.

Gets to the root of the problem

Extermination will give you results. You’ll see dead pests start appearing in your home or notice less of them in the immediate future. And that in itself will give you a sense of satisfaction.

However, because extermination doesn’t really address the source of the problem — where are the pests getting in your home, why did this problem just begin, and how can it be stopped for good? — you are probably going to find yourself dealing with the same problem again and again.

It may be a seasonal issue, or there could be damage to your home that is allowing pests-free entry into your home.

Pest control can even involve your general contractor, a roofer, or any other professional to collaborate on a lasting solution.

Which service is right for you?

You have probably come to your own conclusion by now, but just in case you still have doubts, we recommend pest control over extermination in virtually every case.

Severe infestations may call for a combination approach to get the situation under control, but then a continuous pest control plan should be implemented to prevent this and other pest issues in the future.

If you have a major infestation, of course you have to get a handle on it right away, and extermination will definitely get the ball rolling.

But for long-term, effective pest protection, chose pest control over exterminator services. Find a reputable pest control company and start working with them to establish a customized pest control plan for your home.

Alright, that’s it for this article, here are a few hand-selected articles that you might also find interesting reads:

Pest Control or Exterminator: Seven Key Things You Need to Know Before Choosing

Is Pest Control Necessary? My Experience and Conclusion

11 Things to Consider When Hiring an Exterminator

Steve Foster

Mad about bugs and wanting to publish as many articles as I can to help educate people about these amazing beautiful creatures! For more info check out my about page

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