Frequently Asked Questions

Below are Frequently Asked Questions we have received from our customers. The questions are broken up by category. Because IPM and our services are ever-evolving so will the answers to the questions. Check back for updates to current questions and for the addition of new questions.


What is IPM?

IPM stands for Integrated Pest Management. It is a common sense, long-term pest prevention process. The principles are risk-reduction, communication, ongoing monitoring and evaluation for continual improvement. IPM focuses on maintaining sustainable and environmentally stable systems. Eradicating pests completely is impossible. Controlling their effects on animals, human beings, livelihood, and populations is a more practical goal.

How are you different than other pest control companies?

We differ from other pest control companies. Our focus is on solving your pest problem within a few services. Not on selling you year-long contracts for ongoing treatments. These do not get to the source of pest problems or provide long-term control. By using preventative methods to control pests you will be getting a better value for your money. You will also enjoy a pest-free space.

Why do you not offer fumigation services?

Fumigation is when you use a tenting chamber to treat household and wood-destroying pests or organisms by fumigation with poisonous or lethal gases. It is a more costly pest control approach that does not offer long-term control or prevention. because there is not a residual effect of the applied product. Once the tent is removed the product dissipates.

The reason we do not offer fumigation services is that we are a registered Branch 2 company, which is “the practice relating to the control of household pests excluding fumigation with poisonous or lethal gases.” Fumigation requires a Branch 1 registration, “the practice relating to the control of household and wood-destroying pests or organisms by fumigation with poisonous or lethal gases.”

Can someone come and spray my home?

Liquid insecticide sprays are one of many pest management tools. Before any treatments we always begin with an inspection. This is how we determine what your pest control needs are. We then choose methods based on our adoption of the Precautionary Principle. This is a “caution in advance” approach to decision-making. It seeks to prevent adverse effects on human health and the environment. We avoid practices that can cause harm. These least-toxic methods can include pest exclusion, mechanical traps, and reduced-risk pesticides. An example of a reduced-risk pesticide is soapy water, which is a contact killer for many insects.

How do gel baits work?

Gel baits use insect’s behavior and biology against them. Gel baits cause a domino effect when used. For instance, an adult cockroach takes the bait, digests it, they excrete it as frass (feces). Then they die. Cockroach nymphs, who don’t generally leave their harborage, feed on the excrement. This leads to a secondary kill.

Gel baits work for ant control through a process called trophallaxis. A liquid or gel bait is placed near the ant colony and foraging ants take this bait back inside the nest. Worker ants then feed on this bait. Worker ants then share this bait with larvae and or queens. This flow of food from ant to ant provides a colony kill and more effective ant control.

Why do you choose baits over spraying?

We choose baits over using broad-spectrum sprays because baits are target specific. We can apply baits near the harborage and colonies of pests. This prevents pesticide exposure to non-target organisms such as people, pets, and beneficial pollinators. We are able to knock down the entire population. Not foraging pests you can see. By using baits instead of spraying we also reduce the risk of pesticide runoff into our local waterways.

Are the products you use safe for my family (including babies) and pets?

We use EcoWise certified reduced-risk materials. We use pesticides as a last resort to solve pest problems.

What types of illnesses can be spread to my family/pets from pests being in the house?

Pests can pose a risk to human health and the types of diseases they spread can vary. Pests that are common disease vectors are rats, mice, fleas, and mosquitoes. Diseases directly transmitted by rodents include, but are not limited to hantavirus, leptospirosis, plague, rat bite fever, and salmonellosis. Cat fleas are capable of transmitting a murinelike typhus disease in humans, cat flea rickettsiosis and are also possible vectors for the plague. Diseases that are spread to people by mosquitoes include Zika virus, West Nile virus, Chikungunya virus, dengue, and malaria.

Do you do pest identifications?

Our licensed technicians are able to identify pests on-site at customer’s properties. If you have a specimen you would like ID’d contact your local vector control district or your county’s agricultural department.

Can we, the customers, do anything on our end to help prevent future issues?

Yes! After your initial inspection, you will receive a list of recommendations. They will help to prevent future infestations. These include habitat modifications, sanitation, and structural recommendations. General preventive measures you can take include reducing clutter to prevent pest harborage, closing holes and gaps around the home, keeping food in sealed containers, storing garbage the right way, and trimming trees and vegetation away from the structure.

How do I advise my landlord that I have pest issues?

We recommend you refer to your leasing documents on the protocol for reporting pest issues to your landlord.

Is my landlord responsible for taking care of pest issues?

Refer to your leasing documents to determine if you or your landlord handles pest control in your space. We all share a responsibility in pest management. To prevent pest infestations and to make inspection easier you should maintain a healthy living space. You can do this through good housekeeping. Limit clutter. Clean regularly. Use a HEPA vacuum and keep food in sealed containers.

How can I get my neighbor to work with me in removing pests from their areas that are coming into mine?

If your neighbor has a pest infestation that is affecting your property we recommend contacting your local vector control office. Start an open dialogue with your neighbor. Let them know that controlling pests is a community effort. Everyone needs to do their part to improve the places we live and work.


What types of rodent control services do you provide?

Each customer’s rodent infestation is different and that is why we offer many services. This allows us to provide the most comprehensive treatment possible. We provide rodent trapping, rodent baiting and monitoring with the use of rodent management stations, burrow treatments, rodent exclusion, and more.

Do you have anything to keep kids and/or pets out of the traps/bait you apply?

We use various tamper-resistant trapping stations outdoors. This ensures non-targets such as children and pets do not contact the traps. We hide traps indoors: behind the fridge, under the sink, in attics, and in crawl spaces. Rodent baits are only used as needed. We place baits in tamper-resistant stations or rodent burrows. These are not accessible to people or other non target animals.

What is the importance of having multiple visits for rodent trapping?

Our multi-visit trapping service for rodents distinguishes us from our competitors. Other companies want to lock you into a contract for ongoing rodent services. This never gets rid of the problem and can lead to an increase in rodent populations. We solve your rodent problem the right way and within a few services. Our rodent services are a three-part plan: inspection, trapping, and rodent exclusion.

The first visit includes an inspection to identify pest levels, rodent entry points, conducive conditions, and set traps in areas with rodent activity. You will receive an inspection report and an itemized report of the rodent entry points. We will also provide an estimate for rodent exclusion. During the follow-up visits, we will remove trapped rodents, reset traps, and do the repairs if approved. You can also do the rodent exclusion work yourself or hire a contractor and we will look over the work. But, we only offer a six-month guarantee for the rodent exclusion work that we do.

I already placed traps and nothing was caught, why do you think you can catch something?

Reasons you may not have caught anything in your traps include: improper trap placement, not using a bait or using the wrong bait, immature rodents taking the bait without setting off the traps, and that rats are neophobic, or trap shy. Our technicians are successful with their rodent trapping because they have the training and licensing to understand and take advantage of the biology and behavior of these pests.

What is rodent exclusion?

Rodent exclusion means closing rodent entry points to keep them out of structures. Entry points include broken screens or vents, gaps around utility pipes, breaks and gaps in the foundation, and gaps under and between doors. Any hole or gap a rat or mouse can fit its skull through or under is a possible entry point. Any hole larger than 1/4″ for a mouse and 1/2″ for a rat.

Can we, the customers, do rodent exclusion ourselves?

Yes, customers can do their own rodent exclusion. You can base your exclusion on the itemized report from your initial inspection.

Is bio-hazard clean-up included in your regular services when you remove traps and do rodent exclusion (rodent proofing) ?

Biohazard clean up is the removal of pest waste and disinfecting of their harborage areas. It is not included in our regular services for rodent control. If we find you are in need of a cleanup we will provide you with another quote for this work. You can also learn how to clean up rodent droppings safely with our Cleaning Up After Rodents guide.

Bed Bugs

Why do you not offer K9 inspections anymore?

We no longer offer K9 inspections because we do not have the capacity to continue to house our retired dogs. We have alternative methods that are as effective, including hand and visual inspections. Trapping with passive pitfall traps on low-level bed bug populations is an effective inspection tool. It provides ongoing monitoring and population reduction.

Why do you need to inspect adjoining units if I have bed bugs?

Bed bugs spread from infested areas into new locations by moving from room to room, through pipe runs and wall voids, along electrical wires, and through other connections between rooms (NPMA). For multi-unit buildings (apartment, condo, duplex, flat, etc.) we inspect any adjoining units (above, below, left, right, corner that share a common wall) before treatment. This is company policy and in compliance with the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s Bed Bug Guidelines. This is to ensure that when we treat, we are treating the entire scope of the infestation.

If you’re a renter talk to your property manager or owner about setting up adjoining unit inspections. We can provide an inspection of a single unit to confirm the presence of bed bugs. If we treat we have to inspect the adjoining units and there is an extra hourly fee for coming back out. We recommend inspecting the unit reporting bed bug activity and adjoining units at the same time.

Other Insects

Why do you not offer services for spiders?

Insecticides will not provide long-term control of spiders. They should also not generally be used for spider control. We do not offer treatment for spiders because they are a beneficial organism. They provide us with a free service. Killing other pests in and around our homes such as flies, mosquitoes, and much more. It is also important to note that spiders rarely cause direct injury to humans. Another reason we don’t do perimeter applications is that it puts beneficial insects such as honeybees and butterflies at risk. It can also contribute to stormwater runoff pesticide pollution.

If you still find the presence of spiders in your home unappealing here are things you can do. declutter your space to reduce hiding places. Seal cracks and crevices to prevent hiding spaces. Remove visible webs on the interior and exterior of your home. Use non-toxic sticky traps. Add weatherstripping to all windows and doors to limit spider’s food supply inside the house. Remove spiders and place outdoors by using an insect removal tool. You can also use a glass jar and piece of paper to trap the spider and release it outside.

Why does it take so long to gain control over fleas/mites?

It can take three to five weeks to gain control over fleas. This is because flea pupa and pre-emerged adults are difficult to control. The areas they hide in oftentimes protect them from the application. After the initial knockdown treatment of adult fleas, flea pupa continue to develop. Adults continue to emerge from their cocoons. A few hours after they come into contact with the insecticide they will die.

Mites are difficult to control because they are microscopic. They also hide in cracks and crevices. They are able to live 30-60 days without their host. You can gain control of mites in a few weeks after removing nesting material and treating nesting areas and runways.

Why do I have to treat my pet for fleas before you treat my home?

Fleas are a common pest of domestic animals. By having your pet treated by a veterinarian before our treatment you can reduce the number of reproducing adults. It also helps prevent future infestations. It will also be helpful to have the veterinarian get your pet on a treatment regimen.

How do fleas transfer from one unit to another?

Fleas are a hitchhiking pests that travel from space to space on pets and people. Adult fleas live on pets and can jump off or fall off when pets scratch. Eggs laid on pets fall off of pets and can be found near areas where pets sleep or rest. On humans, fleas can jump on belongings like bags and purses or hide in the seams and cuffs of clothes to travel to new areas. They do not live on humans after feeding as they do on pets.

What’s the difference between bees & wasps?

Bees and wasps make look similar at first glance, but they are different species. Both insects are social creatures and can sting, but it is important to be able to tell the difference. Bees found in California include honey bees, bumblebees, digger bees, and carpenter bees. Two social wasps you will find in California are yellowjackets and paper wasps.

Here are some key characteristics of bees: bees often have rounder bodies than
wasps and flies, bees have antenna that are long and elbowed, most bees are hairy, especially on their legs and/or abdomen, female bees carry large loads of pollen, either on their legs or on their abdomen, and bees have four wings. They can be small medium or large, and colors vary: black, brown, orange, silver, blue, green, etc. (Xerces Society).

Yellowjackets tend to be medium sized and black with jagged bands of bright
yellow—or white in the case of the aerial-nesting D. (formerly known as V.) maculata—on the abdomen and have a very short, narrow “waist,” the area where the thorax attaches to the abdomen. Paper wasps such as Polistes fuscatus aurifer, P. apachus, and P. dominula are 1-inch-long slender wasps with long legs and a distinct slender waist. Background colors vary, but most Western species tend to be golden brown or darker with large patches of yellow or red (UC IPM).

Every insect has a role and only becomes a pest to humans when they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Bees are a beneficial organism that provides pollination for plants. Including pollination of many of the crops we need or rely on. Wasps also provide many beneficial services to our ecosystem: they are predators of crop eating insects, parasitic wasps are a biocontrol of certain pests, and some wasps are generalist pollinators.

Why can’t you come kill the bee swarm I see?

When you see a stationary swarm of honey bees they are resting and are starting a new colony. A queen and worker bees are budding off from their old colony and are looking for a new home. The bees are the least aggressive now and are also the most fragile so they are not a physical threat. This is a beautiful movement that means you are living near a healthy bee colony and a healthy ecosystem. If there is a bee swarm on your property we recommend reaching out to your local beekeepers. We are able to do bee swarm pickups for existing customers.

If you have a question that is not on the list below please send us an email at and we will reach out to you.