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Selecting a Private Pest Control Operator (PCO)

Vector image of a white truck with a closed back of truck that has little images of pests with red circles and crossed lines over them.  A pest control truck.

If you choose to hire a private pest control operator (PCO), there are a few things you can do to ensure that you are hiring a reputable, trustworthy company or individual. In addition to the ones listed below, visit the UC IPM webpage to learn more.

  • Verify company’s licensing is current. All pest control operators must be registered with the California State Structural Pest Control Board, and should be insured. You may also want to contact the Better Business Bureau or read online reviews of the company’s work.
  • Verify that the company's licensing is current (see below) and that the company has liability insurance and workers' compensation insurance.
  • Insist on an inspection and a written inspection report.
  • Make sure both you and the company understand the problem and the proposed work before the start of any work. for rodents, a variety of techniques may be necessary, such as exclusion work (blocking entry points), trapping, and baiting (if necessary). In integrated pest management (IPM) solution will include multiple methods.
  • Obtain in writing details of the control work and treatment schedule.
  • Read the contract carefully. A contract for pest control should include a description of the problem, a detailed treatment plan, the length of service, a detailed price breakdown, and a description of any guarantees.
  • Understand any guarantee of work that is stated.
  • Request feedback on effectiveness of control work so you will know when the problem is under control.
  • Understand owner/tenant responsibilities, and do your part and follow up on the company's recommendations for keeping your home pest-free.

Verify a company's licensing status

The California Structural Pest Control Board oversees licensing of companies that provide indoor services to exterminate mice, rats, ants, roaches, and other household pests. Visit for information on current licensing/registration, a company's history of complaints, and how to formally file a complaint. A licensee should possess an identification card which shows the expiration date and type of license.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation oversees licensing of companies that provide outdoor pest control services and pesticide application. Visit to verify if a PCO has a Qualified Applicator License or Qualified Applicator Certificate.




Page last reviewed: January 9, 2023

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