How Much Does an Exterminator Cost? Pest Control Costs Broken Down
Uninvited guests of the insect or animal variety are never welcome in your home, and sometimes evicting them yourself isn’t something you want to handle. Hiring a professional to address the problem for you may be well worth the average exterminator cost of $176.
- Typical Range: $111 to $261
- National Average: $176
A sudden bloom of spiders in the springtime, a trail of tiny ants, or the occasional group of fleas can be dismissed as seasonal nuisances. But a cockroach scuttling out of sight in the corner of your peripheral vision, mouse or rat droppings in the pantry cabinet, wood dust suggesting termites, or a string of bedbug bites on your leg is another matter entirely and can quickly become matters of health and safety. For small infestations, extermination may be something you can handle yourself, but larger infestations or pests can cause structural damage or serious health concerns that warrant professional treatment. Before you call in assistance, there are several factors to consider and questions to ask as you begin to assess how much to budget.
Factors in Calculating Exterminator Cost
While the typical range for exterminator cost nationally is between $111 and $261, there are several factors that can push the total considerably higher and others that can make the experience less expensive. One important consideration is the emotional impact of finding pests in your home: Is managing the situation something you have the time and bandwidth to manage? Pest infestations cause panic in many people, even when it’s not necessarily logical, which is why you’ll see so many memes and social media posts encouraging those who have discovered giant spiders or rodents just to burn the whole house down. Since that’s not a good option, knowing the components that build a pricing structure for professional exterminators will help panicking homeowners feel like they have a better grip on the situation.
Pests do not helpfully stay in the first location they find to nest—they will perpetually hunt for a spot with better access to food and water sources. Therefore, the larger your home and yard, the more expensive extermination will be. There’s more space to inspect and more locations in which treatment will be necessary to avoid simply driving the pests from one location to another.
If the infestation is small and can be successfully managed with a single treatment, your exterminator cost will be toward the lower end of the range. Larger infestations may require multiple visits or a broader spectrum of strategies, adding cost to your total.
Surface infestations are relatively easy to treat with traps or chemicals. If the infestation is inside the walls or structural wood, the solution will be more expensive, especially if it requires total fumigation to treat unreachable areas. Inaccessible infestations can also result in the need to open walls and repair them after the treatment is complete, adding to total costs.
Most pest control professionals will do a consultation or initial visit to assess the scope and type of the problem. During this visit, the exterminator will look for evidence of an infestation, locate the nest or entry points, and create a treatment plan. Often, upon approval of the plan, the exterminator will then apply the initial treatment and mitigation strategies, and in some cases, this may be the only necessary visit. A consultation visit will usually cost between $150 and $300, and this cost may be waived if you choose to follow the suggested treatment plan.
The cost of the treatment itself will vary based on several different factors. What kind of treatment is necessary? Is it a one-time treatment, or will there be recurring visits? Will they be simple chemical treatments or physical traps, or will your home need to be fumigated? Some treatment is basically free: Removing the attraction that convinced the pests that your home was an ideal spot is the first step. But some pests, like bedbugs and wood-boring insects, will drive up costs—in fact, termites are some of the most expensive pests to treat.
Basic physical pest control will be the first step in most cases, including nest removal, traps, and bait and trap stations. These will cost in the range of $350 to $700, depending on the type and size of the infestation and how many visits are necessary. Chemical sprays can range from $150 to $400, while heat treatment and full fumigation can reach up to $8,000.
Pests vs. Wildlife
Exterminators perform many different tasks, so it’s important to distinguish between pest removal and wildlife removal in terms of costs. Pest removal entails the removal of insects or rodents that have moved into your home and set up camp—they’re co-residents who plan to stay and require removal with multiple strategies. If a raccoon or family of bats has gotten into your attic, the same exterminator might come out to help you physically remove them (usually for between $400 and $600) and make recommendations as to how to close off their access point, but it will probably not be a recurring problem once that access point is closed. The greater cost for wildlife removal will most likely be damage repair and access point remediation.
Indoor vs. Outdoor
Indoor pest control is what most people think of when they consider calling an exterminator. Still, outdoor pests, such as skunks, groundhogs, moles, and even coyotes and foxes, can make your outdoor living spaces undesirable or unsafe. Exterminators can work on live trapping and relocation of those outdoor pests. Outdoor services may be limited by local ordinances guiding relocation or trapping policies.
Additional Costs and Considerations
Once the type of treatment is determined, there are a few other elements of pest control you’ll need to consider in the overall cost. The most significant of these is the number of exterminator visits you’ll need to fully eradicate the infestation, but other expenses might take you by surprise. Cleaning, necessary repairs, and prevention may seem like extra costs, but these are essential to reduce the likelihood that you’ll need treatment for reinfestation.
Some extermination needs are simple enough to be completed in a single visit, while other infestations require a longer plan of treatment to remove the pests altogether and prevent a recurrence. The costs do not necessarily correlate with the length of treatment, however.
- One-time visit: While the cost of the actual treatment portion of a single-visit extermination may be lower than the cost of a longer-term contract, the total cost may be a bit more than average. That’s because a one-time visit includes assessment of the problem, tracking down the nests and access points, applying the treatment, and identifying steps that must be taken to prevent reinfestation. These single visits range from $300 to $550. If the single visit removes a single pest, such as a snake that made its way in from the garden, the cost may be a bit less.
- Initial visit: For problems that can’t be treated in a single visit, the initial visit will encompass the assessment, inspection, finding the entry points and nests, and designing a treatment plan, along with the initial treatment itself, and will cost between $150 and $300.
- Monthly visit: If you’ve had a large infestation removed previously or live in a multifamily home or apartment with a shared structure and a persistent problem, you may need to contract for monthly retreatment to keep your space free of pests. These visits average between $40 and $70 per month.
- Quarterly visit: For treatment of seasonal infestations or as a preventative measure against reinfestation if your home is particularly susceptible to pest infiltration, you might opt for treatment four times per year. These average between $100 and $300 per visit but can be less costly if you contract for the whole year and pay a discounted rate.
- Annual visit: For those who don’t have recurring or significant pest problems, an annual treatment to prevent seasonal invasions of ants or mosquitoes can serve two purposes: The treatment will prevent even mild infestations of seasonal pests and provide an opportunity for a regular inspection for more insidious pests such as termites or rodents. These visits run between $300 and $550, depending on your region and the type of inspections you choose.
For many homeowners, discovering any kind of pest triggers an instantaneous desire to scrub down all surfaces. This isn’t a bad idea, as it will also probably remove attractions for the pests. But the time for serious cleaning is after the treatment has occurred, especially if chemicals were used, to remove residue, pest droppings, and any other potential problems. The cost for this process will depend on whether you’re purchasing supplies and protective gear such as masks, gloves, and HEPA vacuum filters to do the job yourself or hiring a full housecleaning service, which will cost between $25 and $40 per hour on average. This may seem like an extraneous cost, but the chemical residue and droppings can be health hazards, and knowing that your home is truly and completely clean will help your peace of mind—plus, it may reduce the likelihood of reinfestation.
Depending on the type of pest you have in your home, repairs can be as minor as sealing cracks in the foundation or as significant as replacing wiring and plumbing or structural wood. Some insects like to burrow underneath carpeting, chewing on the fibers and adhesive, so carpet replacement may be necessary. If your exterminator needs to open walls to access nests, those walls will need to be patched and painted. Termites and carpenter ants can damage walls, studs, roofs, and floors, requiring major repairs, while mice and squirrels are attracted to the insulation of older wiring and may chew through enough to require a major overhaul. These repairs are difficult to estimate ahead of time, as you’ll only know they’re necessary after the inspection and treatment are complete. However, they are an excellent motivator to seek professional help as soon as you think there may be a pest problem rather than putting off treatment while the situation gets worse and more expensive to repair.
After your treatment is complete (or even before, if you’re aware that your home is vulnerable to pests), taking some preventative steps can reduce the likelihood or seriousness of the infestation. Your exterminator will likely have some recommendations that may include regular treatment visits. Still, additional steps you can take on your own may cost less than repeat visits. If you’ve had termites removed, prevention is critical, as the evidence of a reinfestation may not show itself until the walls start crumbling, so applying preventative treatments yourself in powder or liquid form can help at a fraction of the cost of professional treatments. Spiders and other small insects can be repelled by using dusts and sprays that drive them away. Homeowners can take steps to seal cracks in the exterior of the home, keep the lawn and gardens neatly pruned and trimmed, and have the gutters cleaned regularly. If these inexpensive measures don’t work, then professional prevention assessment may be necessary at an additional cost.
Exterminator Cost: Removal Methods
Along with the type and size of the infestation, the removal method will have a significant effect on the total cost of the project. These methods are not interchangeable, so there’s not a lot of negotiation to be done. An exterminator will know the most effective remedy for each type of pest, and while you should always seek out more than one estimate and plan for treatment, once you’ve chosen your expert you should trust their treatment recommendation. Under-treating can potentially lead to reinfestation and additional cost.
For smaller pests who have taken up residence because your home provides something they need, hygienic pest removal is a great start for homeowners to take on their own. Many small pests, such as ants or other tiny insects, are looking for a consistent water or food source, so areas where food crumbs accumulate or water pools are attractive to them. Even some larger pests, such as mice, can be drawn by moisture and something as simple as a flour or pet food bag. Cleaning up water from burst or leaking pipes and making repairs, storing paper-packaged food in crocks or sealed containers, and removing dust and food debris can make your home less attractive to pests. Supplies can run between $50 and $200.
Ideal for outdoor pests, biological pest removal uses the natural food chain to eliminate damage-causing pests without chemicals. For example, if aphids eat all your plants, introducing lady beetles to the garden will reduce the aphid population, as lady beetles are a natural aphid predator. This type of elimination can cost between $50 and $200.
This is the most common form of pest control treatment. Delivered in powder, spray, or bait form, chemical pest control is designed to kill the pests where they are. Many companies offer organic forms of chemical treatment that are supposedly less harmful to humans and pets, but you may need to leave home for a few days while treatment is in progress. If this is your best option, you’ll want to ask many questions about the type and application methods of the chemicals and make sure the exterminator knows about anyone in your home with sensitivities to chemicals. It is, generally, quite effective. Application to kill an infestation costs between $250 and $1,000 per room, while follow-up or preventative spray costs an average of $150 to $400.
This is the preferred treatment for larger pests and wildlife, along with beehives or wasp nests. Physical treatment is the careful physical removal of the nest or the trapping and relocation of an animal. This requires the exterminator to be up close to the pests at some personal risk and therefore requires more protective apparel, which comes at a slightly higher cost. In addition, if a family of animals has invaded, the exterminator might need to return over several visits to make sure all the pests have been removed. Ringing up at $350 to $700, this is not an inexpensive option, but it might be necessary.
Heat treatment can be a great (if expensive) option for those who prefer to avoid chemicals but have significant infestations, especially bedbugs or other tough-to-kill insects. Costing between $2,000 and $4,000, heat treatment requires that the home be sealed and pumped full of superheated air. Exposure to heat for a while kills the insects along with their larvae and eggs. It’s pretty effective, and because no chemicals are used, there’s no waiting period after the treatment: Residents can re-enter the house immediately after the treatment is complete.
Fumigation is the last resort, reserved for severe infestation or after all other methods have failed. It’s often used in multiunit structures where insects can pass between units through the walls. The home or building is sealed, and a chemical mist is deployed in the closed space and left to sit for some time. The house then needs to sit for another period of time to air out before residents can return. Expensive ($500 to as much as $8,000, depending on the structure and infestation) and inconvenient for residents, fumigation is nonetheless helpful, especially in cases where insects have bored into structural wood or the problem is so widespread that it can’t be contained.
Exterminator Cost: Do I Need an Exterminator?
How do you know when it’s time to call an exterminator? These are the warning signs that a pest problem has gotten out of hand and needs professional attention.
There Are Signs of Pests in Your Home
Seeing small piles of sawdust near wood fixtures? Hearing strange sounds in the walls that you can’t identify? It’s time to call an exterminator. Even more telling is when you see the insects or rodents themselves, because with pests, what you can see is usually the tip of the iceberg. If they’re confident enough to be out of hiding near you, they must have plenty of backup in the nest. Visible signs of pests probably mean that the problem is beyond the scope of what you can do yourself.
You Don’t Know Where to Start
Maybe the very presence of the pests is too much for you to handle. Maybe there are too many of them, and you aren’t sure what to do or where to begin. A consultation with a good exterminator will help you assess the problem and could save you money in the long run whether you contract the exterminator or hire them for a one-time visit.
You Don’t Know What Kind of Pest Is in Your Home
For homeowners who like to manage their own home problems, the first sign of a pest problem will send them to the pest control aisle of the nearest home improvement store. But if they’re not precisely sure what kind of pest they’re dealing with, the time and money spent trying to eradicate the pests on their own can be wasted when the method doesn’t work. If you’re unsure about the type of insect or animal you’re facing, call someone who knows how to figure it out.
You Have Children or Pets
Your pets probably know about the pests in your home long before you do, and the superior sense of smell that tells them that there are other animals present also makes them very vulnerable to DIY chemical methods. Young children may also be adversely affected by sprays and poisons and are at greater risk from bites or stings. If you suspect that you have pests and also have children or pets, call an exterminator who can use child- and pet-safe removal methods.
DIY Methods Aren’t Working
If you’ve tried to do pest control on your own and it hasn’t worked, call in some backup. Often it makes sense to try basic remedies yourself, but if you’re unsuccessful, you need someone to resolve the problem before it gets bigger.
You’re Not Sure You Got the Job Done
Recurring infestations aren’t usually recurring. When you think you’ve gotten them all—and then a week later there are more, you’re not reinfested; it’s more likely that you didn’t complete the job the first time, and the stragglers have now multiplied.
Exterminator Cost: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
A few moths, a handful of stink bugs, or one or two mice frolicking in the basement are probably pest problems that most homeowners can approach themselves using hygienic, chemical, or physical treatments from a home improvement store. If these basic remedies don’t solve the problem or even that is too much for you to contemplate, hiring a professional would be a good decision. In some cases, such as a bedbug infestation, lots of rodents, or large quantities of ants, roaches, termites, or if you know something is there but you don’t know what it is, call in a professional as soon as possible to prevent damage to your home and health.
Exterminator Cost: Benefits of Hiring an Exterminator
The cost of extermination can feel like an insult because there’s no way to plan or budget ahead for it, and you don’t have a choice as to whether or not to do the work. Beyond the fact that hiring an exterminator removes some of the unpleasantness of engaging with the pests yourself, there are some other solid reasons to outsource this task to a professional.
Cost Efficiency and Warranties
The costs of buying bait, sprays, poisons, gap seals, caulk, and traps can mount up quickly—so quickly that many homeowners spend more buying their DIY supplies than they would have spent on an exterminator who could have done the job more efficiently and in less time. Also, many extermination companies warranty their work with promises of free treatments if reinfestation occurs during a specific period. You may spend the same amount or slightly more on a professional application than you would doing it yourself. Still, follow-up treatment and the overall reduction in your own effort make the professional a more efficient option.
Rodents can spread disease, and bites from all pests can cause reactions or become infected. Trapping and relocating animals without having the proper skills can result in panicked animals that act aggressively. In addition, the powerful chemical sprays, baits, and powders can be dangerous if misapplied. A professional exterminator can get into your house, gauge the proper treatment, and apply it while providing guidance to you about safety considerations and removing the pest problem faster.
Most homeowners won’t eliminate all the pests with DIY methods and won’t know how to check. Pests like termites and bedbugs are insidious and excellent at hiding. Exterminators know how and where to look and follow up to snuff out any lingering pests before a full reinfestation can occur.
Eradicating the Root of the Problem
Most homeowners can figure out how to kill visible bugs and trap a few mice, but that’s eliminating the signs of the problem, not the problem itself. Exterminators can hunt down the nest, source, or entry point of the infestation, resulting in less follow-up work and reducing the likelihood of reinfestation.
How to Save Money on Extermination and Pest Control Costs
Pest control treatments are difficult to negotiate because the services are necessary and time-sensitive, so you don’t have as much time as you might like to comparison shop and evaluate. In addition, you’ll need the treatment that is appropriate for your infestation. It’s not like building a house, where you can choose a lower grade of lumber or a plainer flooring tile—you need to accept the appropriate treatment and pay for it. That doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to save some money by shopping wisely.
- Talk to friends and neighbors for recommendations for exterminators; find out ahead of time who was cost-effective and got the job done. Also, some exterminators offer referral bonuses, so both you and a friend can save money if you use the friend’s name as a reference.
- Seek several estimates, asking questions about payment plans and savings options.
- Check local papers and websites for coupons.
- Act quickly. Pest problems grow exponentially and can go from small to overwhelming in a surprisingly short time.
- Ask about paying for the whole course of treatment up front; often, exterminators will give you a discount for paying all at once.
- Practice good prevention: Seal cracks, store garbage in a lidded can, and keep the yard trimmed and neat.
Questions to Ask About Exterminator Cost
There are some standard questions you should ask any contractor; you don’t want to hire someone who isn’t licensed, insured, and bonded, or anyone who can’t provide references for you to contact (and you should absolutely contact the references you’re provided). With exterminators, however, there are some additional questions you’ll need answers to about their procedures and costs.
- What pests have you found in my home? Where are they located?
- What treatments do you recommend? Why?
- Is there a less costly treatment that we could start with? Why or why not?
- How long/how many treatments will it take to eliminate the infestation?
- Will I need follow-up treatments? How much will that cost?
- How will the cost be affected if I need more treatments than you expect? Is that written into the contract?
- Will you itemize your contract and stand by the itemization?
- What kind of payment plans do you offer? Is there a benefit to paying up front?
- Will these treatments be safe for my family and pets? What precautions should I take?
- What else can I do to follow up and reduce the likelihood of reinfestation?
Discovering you have pests in your house can feel like the last straw for homeowners, especially since you have to live in the house while waiting for the problem to be corrected. For some people, this can lead to stress and sleeplessness, making the whole process more challenging to manage. Understanding the options should help.
Q. Do exterminators give free estimates?
Some extermination companies will offer free inspections and estimates, with some exclusions. Bedbug inspections are often an exception because hunting for bedbugs is an intensive process that requires a fair amount of time and furniture moving. In addition, inspections for real estate transactions also usually incur a fee, mainly because such inspections require the exterminator to fill out a form describing the inspection results. Companies that do not provide free inspections will often waive the inspection fee if you choose to contract them for treatment services. Whether or not the inspection is free isn’t a reflection of the company’s quality, so base your choices on recommendations and not the initial consultation cost.
Q. Which pests require more than one treatment to control?
Fleas, ticks, and bedbugs will most likely need more than one treatment. The initial treatment will usually kill the adult insects, but larvae and eggs are notoriously difficult to kill, and there are most likely eggs and larvae in all different stages in the home, so it may take several waves of treatment to kill newly hatched insects before they can lay more eggs.
Q. What is the worst type of pest?
Termites are the worst type of interior pest. They eat through the wood in your house at an alarming rate and reproduce quickly, so they’re tough to find and tough to kill. They do billions of dollars’ worth of damage to homes every year. They’re closely followed by carpenter ants, which cause much the same type of damage but are more easily eradicated. Bedbugs, which don’t carry disease or harm people beyond potentially itchy bites, are tough to kill, so while they’re not dangerous, their removal can be a long and expensive prospect, and the sleeplessness they create makes the whole experience more stressful. Fire ants won’t do damage to your home, but they can build large nests quickly in walls and under floors inside and emerge to deliver painful bites that can cause severe allergic reactions. If you become aware of these pests in your home, call an exterminator promptly.