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Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Pest Control Service in Chicago

In 2019, around 13 percent of households in Chicago reported sighting roaches and other pests in their homes. Pest infestations threaten the health and well-being of your family and destroy property. While you may want to control an infestation on your own to save some money, it is better to hire a qualified exterminator in the city to complete the job. Working with a licensed pest control expert saves you from the hazards of handling pesticide, contaminating your environment, and the risk of re-infestation from a poor job. However, before you pick a professional pest control company in Chicago, you should ask the following questions to be sure they can offer standard pest control services:

Are You Licensed to Practice as an Exterminator in Chicago?

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), through its Division of Environmental Health Pest Control Program, regulates the activities of companies that provide services related to controlling wood-destroying organisms and pests in Chicago. To prevent unauthorized individuals from offering pest services to the city's residents, all exterminators must first obtain a license from the IDPH before offering their services. Per Section 830.710 of the Structural Pest Control Code, carrying out pest control work without a license could result in a Type B or Type C violation which will attract penalties like revocation or suspension of the erring exterminator.

The IDPH issues two types of business licenses that entitle the holder to carry out general use pesticides, namely:

  • Commercial structural pest control business: Any individual who intends to engage in structural pest control at any commercial structural pest control business location in Chicago or anywhere else in the state is required to obtain a business license from IDPH. This will require the applicants to fill out and submit a Commercial Structural Pest Control Business License application form, a certificate of insurance form, and the required fee of $250 to:
Illinois Department of Public Health
Division of Environmental Health Pest Control Program
525 W. Jefferson St.
Springfield, IL 62761
  • Non-commercial structural pest control business: Any individual who intends to engage in non-commercial structural pest control at any non-commercial structural pest control business located in Chicago or anywhere else in the state is required to obtain a business license from IDPH. The applicants can do this by filling out and submitting a Non-Commercial Structural Pest Control Business application form alongside a $200 application fee to the above IDPH address.

Note that the licenses for structural pest control business will only be available to applicants who employ at least one person who is a certified technician at their business location. The IDPH is also responsible for certifying exterminators as technicians. Interested individuals must fill out a Structural Pest Control General Use Application and Checklist form to be certified. The applicant must then send the completed form and a $75 personal check, cashier's check, or money order to the IDPH address provided above. IDPH will review the application, and where successful, the applicant will be required to choose an exam date and preferred location to take the pest control exam.

An applicant who intends to apply restricted pesticides must be certified as a restricted-use pesticides technician. To apply, the individual must complete a Structural Pest Control Restricted Use Application and Checklist form and send it alongside a $125 fee to the address provided above. In addition, the applicants must pass the general standard examination and one or more subcategory exams that are in line with the restricted pesticide that will be applied. Upon completion of the exam, the applicants for pest control general use and restricted use will be issued the relevant technician licenses.

Per section 830.300 of the Structural Pest Control Code, Individuals who are not Illinois residents but who are certified as structural pest control technicians in their state may obtain certification in the state of Illinois. However, the requirements for certification in their state must be substantially similar to those in Illinois. Also, the applicant must still be a resident in the state and actively certified there. The exterminator must submit a letter to the IDPH to prove they are certified as a technician. Once reviewed and approved, the exterminator can complete the relevant application and pay the required fee.

You can direct your queries regarding the licensing and certification requirements for exterminators in the city to IDPH by contacting their Chicago Office at (312) 814-2793 or (312) 814-5278. Before hiring an exterminator in Chicago to take care of your home's pests, ensure that the IDPH has licensed the pest control business. You can confirm this by utilizing the IDPH's pest control business search platform.

Are You Registered with the Illinois State Pest Control Association?

When planning to hire an experienced pest control company in Chicago, you make sure that they are licensed and certified by the state of Illinois to ensure you receive the best possible service. Another vital step you should take is to confirm if the company also belongs to the Illinois Pest Control Association (IPCA). Belonging to this Association provides exterminators in Chicago with various benefits, like

  • Access to cost-saving programs like discounts, HR consulting services, and background screenings
  • Access to continuous pesticide-related education, training, and workshop opportunities
  • Regular updates on industry news, research, and policy information impacting Illinois and around the United States.
  • Provides an avenue to network.

The members of the IPCA are expected to uphold their Association's ByLaws when providing pest control services. This ensures that they work professionally and that their customers receive the best possible service. In addition to being members of the IPCA, some of its members also belong to other trade organizations, such as the National Pest Management Association (NPMA).

If your intended exterminator claims to belong to any of the associations, you should request proof of their membership in the relevant association. You can use the search tools provided by both the IPCA and the NPMA via their respective Find a Member and Find a Local Exterminator directories to find exterminators near you.

How Much Do You Charge for Pest Control Services and Why?

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average wage for pest control workers in Chicago is around $19.05. However, the cost of doing business can vary depending on several factors, such as

  • The size of the infested area
  • The severity of the pest infestation
  • The type of pest infestation in your home
  • The exterminator's skills, experience, and reputation
  • The type of pest control method used
  • Location of your home within Chicago

Before you hire an efficient exterminator, make sure that you have the necessary details about the price that you will be charged. It is important to get and compare multiple quotes from different exterminators to find the best one that suits your budget. Also, this will allow you to avoid being overcharged by fraudulent operators. Another important thing to look out for is the low prices offered by these exterminators. Ensure you inquire why their prices are low because some have hidden charges that you will only find out once they commence work.

Pest control workers in Chicago earn an average annual wage of $39,630. The list below compares the average hourly wages of this category of professionals in the city with those in other parts of the State of Illinois and other locations across the United States:

Chicago Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
Bloomington Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage-
Davenport Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
Rockford Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
St. Louis Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
San Francisco Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
Phoenix Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
Houston Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
New York City Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Do You Comply with Chicago Regulations for Pesticide Application?

Getting the help of an experienced Chicago exterminator is very important to ensure that you are protected from violating pesticide use regulations in the city. The regulations controlling pesticides and other related materials in Chicago are the Structural Pest Control Code and Illinois General Standards Manual for Structural Pest Control. Some requirements of these regulations include:

  • Exterminators must be certified as technicians by the Illinois Department of Public Health before working for a licensed commercial or non commercial pest business. Also, before applying restricted use pesticides, they must be certified as such by IDPH.
  • Exterminators must wear the proper personal protective equipment when handling pesticides. These include safety glasses, face shields, and goggles. Also, an unlined glove should be worn when using chemical materials such as nitrile or butyl.
  • Exterminators must always consult the label of any chemical or pesticide to determine the proper disposal method for pesticides. Also, they must follow disposal instructions provided by the IDPH.
  • Exterminators and pest control businesses must have secured storage facilities. Also, vehicles transporting pesticides must have the necessary equipment to secure and transport them to prevent them from being damaged.

For more information regarding how the regulations may affect any planned pest control services in your home, contact the Illinois Department of Public Health Chicago office at (312) 814-2793 or (312) 814-5278.

What Type of Pest Control Method Are You Using?

Before you hire a professional to deal with your pest problems, you must know the type of control methods the exterminator will use. In Chicago, there are various types of pest management techniques that professional exterminators commonly utilize, such as:

  • Biological Control: This involves using natural enemies such as predators and competitors of the pests. For instance, introducing parasites, pathogens, and predators to control a rodent population. Some examples of these include lacewings and lady beetles. However, this method is not as effective as it should be because human intervention is required to implement it successfully. Also, the species being used must be introduced under the right conditions.
  • Cultural Control: This strategy focuses on reducing the chances of the pests establishing and reproducing in an area. This can be done through the establishment of better hygienic conditions and practices.
  • Chemical Control: This is a strategy that involves the use of pesticides to control pests. This method is usually only used when necessary and is generally combined with other methods to minimize the effects of the chemicals on people and non-target organisms. Chemical control is more effective when used by a professional. This method can be carried out using various chemicals, such as those found in solid, liquid, or aerosol forms. Some of the top products used by the professionals for residential and commercial pest control include Bifen IT Concentrate, Suspend SC Concentrate, Termidor SC Concentrate, and CimeXa Insecticide Dust.
  • Organic Control: This can be done by using various methods such as traps, sprays, and bait. Organic pesticides are usually effective at controlling pests, and they can also prevent other plants and animals from being affected. Organic pesticides typically contain active ingredients like Neem oil, Boric acid, Kaolin Clay, Limonene, and Ryania.

Although these methods can be used individually, they can be more effective when combined through integrated pest management. To find professional exterminators in Chicago, you can use the online directories of the Illinois Pest Control Association (IPCA) and the Better Business Bureau. Before you hire any of these professionals to deal with your pest problems, confirm they possess the right licenses and certifications.

What Household Pests Do You Control?

Professional exterminators in Chicago offer various types of pest control services. These include the removal and extermination of various types of pests such as rodents and insects. In addition to these, exterminators can also carry out pest prevention services to prevent further pest infestation in your home or near you.

Before you hire a professional for any type of pest control service, it is good to confirm they specialize in your type of pest problem and that they can effectively address your specific problem. Doing so can help you avoid costly mistakes and waste of time. Also, you should confirm how much you will be charged for the pest services

Listed below are cost estimates for pest control services provided by exterminators in Chicago:

Ant control
$63 - $355
Bat removal
$193 - $280 per visit
Bed bug treatment
$265 - $645
Beehive removal
$65 - $375
Bug and insect treatment
$148 - $178 (for initial treatment for standard four-bedroom home)
Mosquito control
$133 - $192 (for one-time treatment)
Mouse extermination
$55 - $220
Roach extermination
$65 - $350
Rodent inspection and trap setting
$168 - $186
Silverfish extermination
$105 - $360
Small animal removal
$357 - $443
Spider removal
$95 - $185
Termite extermination
$465 - $2,425
Termite treatment
7.27 - $9.95 per linear foot (for chemical treatment)
Tick control
$150 - $430
Wasp control
$95 - $770

Note that the number of visits that an experienced pest control professional will make to your home to thoroughly address your problem will depend on the nature of the issue.

Do You Carry the Necessary Right Insurance Policy for Exterminators in Chicago?

In 2020, over 2,800 pest control workers in the United States were injured due to work-related accidents. Not hiring an exterminator with the proper insurance will make you liable for any property damages and bodily injuries incurred while working on your home.

As part of the requirement to be issued a license to carry out pest control services, commercial structural pest control businesses must complete a certificate of insurance form. The certificate must provide insurance coverage for the following liabilities:

  • $100,000 per person or $300,000 per occurrence of bodily injury
  • $50,000 per occurrence of property damage;
  • $350,000 per occurrence of combined bodily injury and property damage.

You can easily confirm that your intended pest control company has the necessary insurance coverage by requesting copies of their insurance certificate. Ensure you authenticate such a certificate with the issuing insurance carrier.

You can get more information about these insurance requirements by contacting the Chicago office of the Illinois Department of Public Health at (312) 814-2793 or (312) 814-5278.

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Exterminator in Chicago

Complaints concerning deceptive exterminators, fraudulent pest control businesses, and improper pesticide use in Chicago are handled at the state level by agencies like the Illinois Attorney General's Office and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

When choosing a suitable pest control service in Chicago, it is important to always look for signs that indicate that you might be dealing with a scam artist or an incompetent exterminator. Home improvement-related complaints continually top the list of consumer complaints made in the State of Illinois. Even though many pest control businesses and exterminators in Chicago are licensed and insured, some individuals operate without the proper licenses and use fraudulent methods to scam their customers, such as:

  • Demanding upfront payment for their services, and then they will not perform the work they promised.
  • Hiding charges from their customers by dropping low estimates only to charge more after work commences.
  • Charging high prices for equipment and supplies, but they use defective equipment for the job.
  • Downplaying the importance of executing written contracts.
  • Providing unauthorized pest control services because they are not licensed

Before you hire a pest control company in Chicago, you can take the following steps that can help prevent falling victim to scams of exterminators:

  • Get and compare multiple quotes from multiple exterminators and pest control companies.
  • Consult with trusted sources like family and friends for recommendations on suitable local pest control companies. Some organizations, such as the Better Business Bureau and Illinois Pest Control Association, also have platforms that can help you find reputable exterminators.
  • Make sure you thoroughly research the pest issue. Doing so will help you identify the best methods and techniques for your specific problem. It can also help you find the right professional exterminator for the job
  • Make sure that your intended exterminators thoroughly inspect the areas they're working in before they offer you their estimates.
  • Confirm if the exterminator you are considering hiring has been licensed by the IDPH
  • Ask for references of past clients from your intended exterminator. These references can provide you with their reviews of the exterminator's work and professionalism.
  • Avoid making full payments
  • Ensure the company explains the various types of pesticides that they will use. They should also be able to provide you with the necessary details about the treatment process.
  • Ask for a written contract. The contract should contain all the information on the company's services for you. It should also include the terms and conditions of the contract. Before signing it, make sure you understand the contract's terms and conditions.

If you have been a victim of a fraudulent Chicago pest control company or deceptive exterminator, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Division of the Illinois Attorney General's Office either through its online complaint submission portal or by submitting a printable consumer complaint form via mail or in-person to

Office of the Illinois Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
500 South Second Street
Springfield, IL 62701

You can also file complaints concerning pesticide-related matters in Chicago with the Illinois Department of Public Health by contacting the Chicago office at 312) 814-2793 or (312) 814-5278.

Choosing Between Local Pest Control Firms and Large National Chains: The Pros and Cons

Even after carrying out your due diligence to ensure your intended exterminator is licensed and certified to carry out pest control services, choosing the right pest control business can be a difficult decision. Most consumers are usually torn between hiring a local pest control business or a national company like Bulwark, Aptive, Mosquito Joe, Truly Nolen, Orkin, Terminix, Arrow Exterminators, and Hawxfor for their home or office.

You can assess the pros and cons of retaining the services of a local or national pest control business to help you make an informed decision:


Local Pest Control Firms
Offers cheap and effective pest solution and maintenance
Affordable and highly customizable pest control plans.
A good understanding of the local environment's climate conditions can help them identify and eliminate pests.
Quick response time due to their proximity to the area.
Offers personal customer service, which allows customers to feel valued and satisfied.
Nationwide Pest Control Brands
Appropriate for the treatment of large areas such as houses and offices and other commercial establishments.
The standardized pricing and plan of a pest control service can be very beneficial for those looking to maintain their properties.
Good for specialized treatments, such as those requiring sophisticated equipment
Works with a wide range of experts.
Provide a variety of effective services.


Local Pest Control Firms
Specialized equipment can be limited.
Lack of manpower and resources can result in the large areas being neglected.
Nationwide Pest Control Brands
The high cost of a pest control plan can be a concern for many consumers.
All customers are treated the same way