5 signs you need a professional pest control company

A pest control technician looks under a home for signs of termites or other pests.
A pest control technician looks under a home for signs of termites or other pests

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Your home is supposed to be your sanctuary, not a sanctuary for bugs. Once insects or rodents gain a foothold in your kitchen, basement, roof or garden, it’s only a matter of time before things get serious. Ignoring the problem is a recipe for a full-blown infestation, which can snowball into structural damage to your home or even serious health issues for you.

That’s why it’s important to stay vigilant when it comes to tiny unwanted intruders. Ants, termites, bed bugs, mice, and other dastardly interlopers each come with a unique set of issues. 

 Is it time to place a call to a professional pest control company? There are some common signs that can help you make that decision. Sure, you could try DIY methods first — like insect repellant sprays and traps that you can buy for a fraction of the price of some professional pest management plans. But you may be taking a risk by taking matters into your own hands. Professional pest control companies can be worth it in the long run, especially if you want assurance that the problem won’t come back after a few weeks.

Even better: You can learn much about your problem for free.

“Most [pest control companies] will provide a needs analysis at no charge, says Jim McHale, president of JP McHale Pest Management, LLC. “Once the pest is properly identified [and] a treatment strategy identified, clients are able to determine the level of “peace of mind” a professional can deliver.”

That peace of mind is well worth the price of admission, since it can be hard to know for sure if you’ve rooted out a pest problem on your own. Rodent nests hidden away in walls, a gap in the window serving as an easy entry point for outside invaders, silverfish hiding out under your bathroom sink: there are many scenarios where a pest problem could continue on despite your best efforts. 

Some say the best offense is a solid defense, and we say that applies to pest control strategiesl. Don’t wait for a problem to rear its ugly bug head — instead, read about the five surefire signs of a pest infestation and stay one step ahead. 

Five signs your home needs a pest control company

If you’re a homeowner, you probably know your home and garden like the back of your hand. You know the problem areas: the moisture-filled bathroom, the dark basement corners, the old windows that are far from airtight. You know that pests are a common issue as well: one 2021 census showed 14 million homes across the US reported the sight of cockroaches (and nearly 15 million reported mice or rats).

Since you know so much already, it can’t hurt to brush up on some of the most common signs that rodents or insects have moved into your home. Double check that you have the phone numbers of the best pest control companies of 2023 that service your area and read on for five clear signs of a pest infestation. 

1. You spot droppings, gnaw marks, or other signs of pests

A quick tour around your property will highlight some of the more obvious signs of an infestation. Pest droppings may be tiny, but they’re still noticeable. Check in hard-to-reach or out-of-the-way areas such as cabinets, pantries, crawl spaces, attics and basements.

If you see something, call a professional pest control company to schedule an inspection. The technician sent to your home can inspect the droppings and determine what kind of pest you’re dealing with before helping you figure out the best pest management solution. 

Although you want to rely on the professionals for reliable pest control techniques, you might be able to tell what kind of problem you’re dealing with by examining the droppings. Skinny, conical pellets typically mean you’re dealing with a type of rodent, for example, while tiny specs that resemble black pepper or ground coffee indicate cockroaches. 

Once you have an idea of what you’re up against, it can make things that much easier to find a pest control company that can help. A great pest control company typically offers a number of specialized services to treat certain infestations, but the best company for you will specialize in whatever invader you have.

“Choosing a pest control company that focuses on handling a specific type of pest can be highly advantageous,” says Nicole Carpenter, CEO at Black Pest Prevention. “These companies possess in-depth knowledge of the targeted pest’s biology, behavior, and habits, enabling them to tailor effective treatments for eradication. 

“Their expertise in advanced pest control methods and technologies ensures more targeted and efficient solutions.”

Another sign to look out for is gnaw marks. Mice and rats tend to chew on fabrics (and tear off pieces to build their nests), so it’s sometimes easy to know when you’re dealing with a rodent infestation. Other areas to check for gnaw or scratch marks include your walls and floor, cardboard boxes, pantry items like flour or sugar, and electrical wires. 

Other signs of pests in the home include — yuck — tiny insect body parts. If you spot discarded bits like wings or skin near a window or on a pantry shelf, that (obviously) means something left them there. Call the professionals to help identify entry points that might need sealing before tackling the main infestation. 

2. You pick up on strange sounds or odors around the house

A weird smell isn’t the greatest thing to discover, but it’s not always a sign of insects or rodents. Our homes can hold onto a number of scents from everyday life, from lingering smoke and mold to the smell of trash or pet odors. If your nose picks up on something that you can’t find a source for, however, that’s a different story.

Let’s get the worst case scenario out of the way first: It is possible for pests to perish in hidden areas throughout your home, and if it’s a type of rodent, well, you’ll know, sooner or later. There’s often no easy way to get to the source, which could be under the floor or behind a wall, without causing structural damage. To minimize damage, call in a pro to pinpoint the location and help you out.

Other odors that might indicate a pest problem include rotten or stale food. Insects and rodents alike tend to carry away any crumbs or bits of food, so these kinds of remnants may be visible around pest droppings and other signs. 

If you’re using your nose but not your ears to clock signs of unwanted pest activity, you’re only doing half of the job. Pests like mice, rats, squirrels, or raccoons tend to make their presence known with noise. Sounds such as scratching, squeaking, scuttling, and whining can be audible, especially if you’re listening near a nest. If you have suspicions but have yet to hear enough to warrant a call to a professional pest control company, try conducting your rounds at night when rodents tend to be more active.

Believe it or not, it’s possible to hear signs of an insect infestation as well. Termites, ants, wasps, and beetles can be the source of some noise in your walls. A soft scraping or tapping sound may be caused by termites or certain beetles, for example. 

3. You uncover signs of property damage

Property damage is likely at the top of your “Prevent this from happening at all costs” list, so if you notice any of these telltale signs — you know who to call. Some insects can wreak havoc to your property if left unchecked. 

Some common signs of property damage from pests include:

  • Discolored drywall
  • Peeling paint
  • Tiny holes in your wall
  • Hollow wood
  • Stuck windows or doors
  • Food packaging that’s been chewed open
  • Frayed wires

“You should call at the first sign of a problem,” says expert and Critter Control district manager Brandon Thorsell. “The longer you wait, the more established the pests can become… Not only do they wreak havoc on the interior of buildings, but [there] can also be health and safety concerns in businesses and homes — so it is important to deal with problems promptly.”

4. The pests keep just keep coming back

“There are several signs that indicate you probably need professional pest control help,” says Carpenter. “The most obvious indicators are the inefficiency of DIY efforts and persistent infestations… Seasonal pest patterns or a lack of expertise in identifying pests also warrant professional help.”

If your first thought at the sight of a new pest infestation is “déjà vu, I’ve been here before,” than take this as your gentle reminder that DIY pest control management is often a temporary solution. If you keep dealing with repeat offensives by pesky mosquitos, ticks, water bugs, or wasps, than it’s time to take matters out of your hands and hand things over to the professionals.

Some insects can be especially hard to get rid of without the planned tactics and chemical solutions of some professional pest control companies. Cockroaches tend to lay thousands of eggs at once, for example. You know how tough it is to squash just one of those bad boys, don’t wait until you’re outnumbered.

Another uber-persistent type of pest is the termite. A termite infestation is bad news for your property’s structural integrity. One sign that an infestation may already be in full swing is the presence of termite swarmers: These tiny insects are identified by long wings and the sight of one or more, alive or dead, should be enough to get you on the phone with a pest management company. That’s because it can take years for a termite colony to grow large enough to produce these little creatures. 

One other example of a pest that loves to do everything but stay away is the bedbug. Since these insects reproduce at a rapid pace, it’s important to weed out every last one — a task best left to the professionals. Other noteworthy signs of bedbugs include rust-colored spots on your bedsheets and waking up with red or itchy skin. 

5. The DIY solutions aren’t cutting it

It happened again: You went to check on the mousetraps you placed around your home last month, and instead of signs of victory, you spot rodent droppings nearby. DIY pest control solutions can be frustrating when you can’t tell if anything you’re doing is working. It only gets worse, however, when your suspicions are proved true and pests keep coming back. 

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all for pest control. Until there’s a universal spray solution that keeps bugs and rodents of every kind far away from your property, it’s important to know what you’re doing wrong in the DIY sphere. Some common reasons your at-home fix might not be effective include:

  • You’ve incorrectly identified a pest infestation: Ants and termites may leave similar signs, but there are different ways to deal with each. Ants can be repelled with a mix of three parts vinegar and one part water, for example, while termites can be repelled or eliminated with essential oils.
  • An overreliance on pesticide sprays: A quick trip to the hardware store for insect spray is a quick and easy solution when you spot bugs in the home, but it’s rarely more than a brief fix. Spraying insects as you see them can be ineffective so long as you’re ignoring big picture problems like hidden nests or overlooked entry points. Also worth noting: The chemicals in these solutions can also be hazardous to the health of your family and pets if overused.
  • Traps left in the wrong areas: Mouse or rat traps left out in the open are unlikely to catch anything. You’ll have better luck leaving these alongside walls, in crawlspaces, and — most importantly — near areas where you’ve spotted droppings. 

Top professional pest control companies to call in 2023 

So you’ve seen the signs and know that the next thing to do is schedule an inspection. Once the professionals take a look at your home and identify the pests you’re dealing with, they can help you figure out the right pest management solution. 

If you’re unsure of who to call for pest control services, here are the top three companies worth your consideration in 2023. 

Check out each service below to find the right fit for any infestation situation.

Terminix logo
Terminix logo


Terminix is a well-known pest control company and for good reason. With locations across 45 US states and more than 90 years of service under its belt, this company comes in strong as our top pick. Find a number of specialized treatment plans, such as the brand’s comprehensive termite treatment services (starting at $69 per month), available with Terminix. 

With its Ultimate Protection Guarantee, Terminix is all about making sure your home stays pest free. If a treatment fails to keep the critters away, Terminix professionals will come back for round two to finish the job — at no extra cost to you.

Treatments start around $250 for one-time services or $50 per month for quarterly visits. Terminix also offers a free inspection and a full refund within 30 days of treatment if you’re not 100% satisfied.



  • Established company with locations servicing more than 2.8 million customers worldwide
  • Some mixed reviews regarding customer service and pricing
  • Free inspections and customizable plans for year-round protection
  • Not accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB)

Why we recommend Terminix: This widely available pest control company’s custom pest management solutions elevate Terminix beyond just termite control, making it a go-to for most types of infestations. 

Best availability: Orkin

Orkin logo
Orkin logo


Another big name in the world of pest control, Orkin is available to families across the continental US (and Hawaii). Orkin has made a name for itself thanks to more than 100 years of service, an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and a range of effective pest removal services.

In addition to solid customer service and a long list of treatable pests (from fleas and spiders to rodents and insects that sting), Orkin also offers alternative options to their chemical treatments. Known as Integrated Pest Management (IPM) services, this approach prioritizes non-chemical solutions that rely on a pest’s weaknesses, habits, and overall life cycle. 

Annual pest control plans can vary depending on the size of your home and level (and type) of infestation affecting it. Starting prices can be around $500 (based on a $550 estimate given for a 1,500-sqare-foot house in NY).



  • A range of treatment services available, including eco-friendly IPM solutions
  • More than 100 years serving as industry leader in pest control
  • Lack of clear pricing info listed online
  • Locations that provide services across every US state except Alaska, Wyoming, and South Dakota

Why we recommend Orkin: Orkin has the experience, reach and a 160-hour-long training program to ensure that your home is serviced by knowledgeable professionals prepared to get rid of pesky pests — no matter the circumstance. 

Best for handling a variety of pests: Ehrlich

Ehrlich logo
Ehrlich logo


Whatever type of pest you have scurrying around in your home, Ehrlich can likely deal with it. This company made our list thanks to the impressive list of tiny intruders covered by its comprehensive PestFree365 bundle plan

This offer nets you year-round protection from more than 30 kinds of pests including: ants, cockroaches, fleas, centipedes, spiders, hornets, wasps, and rodents. Instead of specialty treatments for other insects that can be more damaging or difficult to deal with, Ehrlich lets you add on services to handle bugs like termites or mosquitos.

The price of this company’s pest management plan can be anywhere from $550 to over $1,000, depending on the usual factors (home size, location, level of infestation, etc.).



  • Tools and services that can handle more than 30 types of household pests
  • Limited service availability with locations in 19 US states
  • Free inspections and unlimited free service calls
  • Regional expertise for a variety of infestation types (depending on location)

Why we recommend Ehrlich: We appreciate that customers have a choice between the company’s signature PestFree365 bundle or individual pest control treatments when searching for ways to get rid of more than 30 different types of pests.

How we ranked the best pest control companies

Once you pick up on the signs of a pest infestation, it’s important to call in the cavalry (aka a professional pest control company). Since time is important, you don’t want to get caught up researching companies and comparing different treatment plans. 

That’s why we did the legwork for you. Here are the biggest factors that we considered when picking out the best pest control companies for 2023:

  • Free inspections : We prioritized pest control companies that offer free inspections. This way, whether you’re calling at the first sign of an infestation or the fifth, you know that a professional will help you map out the rest of your pest control strategy.
  • Pest control plans: We looked for comprehensive plans that work for a number of scenarios. Flexible companies with specialized treatments or add-ons for special case infestations (see: termites) were favored.
  • Availability: We picked top-rated pest control companies with locations peppered throughout the US, so that you know you’ll find something local no matter where you live.
  • Customer reviews: We paid attention to things like positive customer reviews and BBB accreditation to ensure we picked the best of the best for your pest management needs.

Read more about how we review products

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