What’s an Exterminator?


The pest “extermination” industry has come a long way in the last 50 years. Back in my mom’s day it was very common to be driving around in the family car and seeing airplanes releasing Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (or DDT) powders or liquids over farm lands and fields. Back then home and business owners would call an “exterminator” to “bomb” their property in an effort to get rid of rodents and other pests. Owners were to stay out of the property for several hours; some did and some didn’t because little was known yet about the effects of synthetic treatments like DDT on human health and ecosystems. The “extermination” industry was focused more on eradication and less on control and prevention. We have come a long and conscious way!

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Federal Department of Agriculture (FDA) play a huge role in regulating and approving pest control treatments that are greener, safer, and tested before approved. The pest control industry strictly adheres to state and federal laws regarding the use, amount, and application of everything on the market. In addition, my mom’s “exterminator” must now be licensed and certified to practice pest control in the United States.

I kept quoting the word “exterminator” because today we don’t hear much about “extermination” in our industry. Instead, we focus on identification of the pest problem and look for a long-term solution, rather than just spraying stuff to kill the pests we physically see at a moment in time. If pest treatments are required, today’s products are just as effective, most have little to no odors, are applied to specific areas, and not toxic to humans and pets. Today’s pest control professionals are educated in effective ways to eradicate specific pests. In other words, there is no longer a one-size-fits-all solution to our pest challenges.

None of this is to say that the exterminators of 50 and more years ago didn’t know what they were doing. In fact, they were doing an excellent job with the knowledge and experience that existed at that point in time.

There are few to none “exterminating” companies around today. Instead, you’ll find pest control and pest management professionals. I would like to think that the only person that still refers to himself as an “exterminator” is the man himself, Arnold! Have a super Aloha Day!