≡ Menu

Are Pest Control Services Like Orkin and Terminix Worth the Cost?

orkin-manAccording to the National Pest Control Association, Americans spent over $3 billion on pest control and exterminator services last year. 

So what exactly do these services do, what do they cost, and most importantly…are pest control services worthwhile?

To find the answer to these questions I called the local extermination company in my area and asked them what services they could provide in combating a growing ant problem at my home.

Although our house was only 3 years old, we have seen a steady increase in the number of ants in our basement as well as on the first and second floors.

In addition to being unsightly, my wife and I were concerned about the health hazards these insects were creating for our two young children.

Having tried many forms of do it yourself ant extermination methods with limited success, my family and I decided to enlist Modern Pest Services to combat the insect problems around our home.

Our initial impression of the company was good.  In particular, we thought the companies choice of a service vehicle was particularly creative (see picture below!).

I couldn't resist taking this picture of Modern Pest Service's work vehicle during a recent service visit to my home in Maine.

Our decision to go with a professional pest control company was not taken lightly. 

Our first concern was the safety of our family.  We didn’t want any toxic chemicals being used that would adversely affect our family or pets.  We liked the fact that the termination service we chose used only “organic” agents to combat various insects.

Secondly, we didn’t want to spend an exorbitant amount of money.  We had already spent quite a bit on ineffective DIY methods and we wanted to be sure we could get a refund if the professional pest control service couldn’t control the problem.

With all of these concerns addressed by Modern Pest’s HomeCare Organic program, my family and I decided to pay a little over $600 for a years worth of treatment at the recommendation of the company.

I asked them if this would eliminate every ant in my home, and the inspector assured me that it would.

The Insect Inspection and Extermination Process

When the exterminator arrived at our house he did an initial survey of the inside of the house, as well as the surrounding lawn area.

He used a combination of gel and powder baits on the inside of the house and a stronger liquid spray on the outside perimeter of the house.

In the basement, he removed panels of insulation along the inside perminiter of the house looking for signs of ant damage and nests.  These areas were treated with extra powder bait (Borax?) to ensure the ants were taken care of.

I was a little bothered that I had to reinstall the insulation panels a few days later, but it was still easier than having the terminator come back and reinstall them.  Besides, I am a big stickler for properly insulating a home and I wanted to make sure that it was done right!

The Results:

Much to the delight of my family and I, we saw an almost immediate decline in the number of ants in our house.  In areas were we once found 10-20 ants crawling around, we saw only one or two.

As the days went by we saw fewer and fewer ants, until we saw virtually no ants for weeks on end.

A few months after the initial treatment (about the same time we were scheduled for another treatment) we started to see a couple of ants here and there.  We simply called up Modern Pest Services and they came over within a day to retreat our trouble areas.

Since this second treament, we have had no further issues with ants in our home.

Was the Extermination Company Worth the Time and Money?

Being this is a “frugal” living personal finance site, I can’t recommend a professional pest control company to everyone.  There are resources available on the Internet for treating various species of insects.

We have no regrets with our decision, and enjoy the piece of mind knowing that if another “outbreak” were to occur, help would only be a phone call away.

Additionally, if you are not sure what the identity of the insect is (or how to treat it), you can’t afford not to treat the infestation with a professional extermination service if there is a chance the insects are causing structural damage to your home.

Related Articles:
36 Ways to Reduce Your Home’s Energy Use
Improve Your Vehicle’s Fuel Efficiency with These Easy Tips


THANKS for reading my personal finance blog! You can learn more about my site here or you can jump right into the juicy stuff by reading my family's own detailed debt free success story (which has formed the foundation of this site). Please consider signing up for my free email updates!

{ 38 comments… add one }

  • Cindy Reyna August 5, 2009, 1:49 pm

    Although maybe the DIY products you purchased did not give you the result you were looking for it is still a very viable option for most homeowners. With the use of professional quality products, the same as the pest control operator is using, applied according to label recommendations, most homeowners save 50 to 75 % off their pest control bill a year…that is a frugal suggestion. Although there are ways to have success, get the free advice, with emails, phone calls, live chat on ePestsolutions, there is no reason you cannot get the correct product and recommendation for your specific affliction. We have over 15 years in the industry with Master Degreed Entomologist ( people that study bugs) talking directly to our customers.

  • Ben August 5, 2009, 2:18 pm

    Thanks for the tips Cindy! I suppose if someone wasn’t sure what species of bugs they were dealing with they could send a picture to one of your bug people for identification.

    I will be sure to leave your tip up for future readers who come across this site!

    Again folks, thats !!

  • zappestcontrolvirginia September 15, 2009, 2:13 am

    yup – too true. Here’s more info about pest control virginia

  • Lizard January 7, 2010, 10:07 pm

    Didn’t you mean peace of mind and not piece of mind? :)

  • Ben January 9, 2010, 10:16 pm

    Opps! LOL, I guess that’s the beauty of having so much writing on public display! I would’t have caught that in a million years. I guess I need to hire an editor!

  • Anthony April 16, 2010, 8:02 am

    I pay roughly $300/yr for pest control services. I think it’s worth the cost. My terminator treats us well, calls us (instead of the other way around) when the next appointment needs to be schedule.

    And if I see any ants, roaches, rats, etc. in or near my house, they will come back at no charge.

    Granted, I could go out to buy my own products, and it would probably save me money on the front end. But if I have a recurring problem, eventually it’s cheaper (and easier) to let the pest control company deal with it.

  • Donna May 12, 2010, 2:17 pm

    I’ve lived in my home for about 16 years. I have never used a pest control service. And I don’t seem to have a problem with pests. I had ant mounds twice; I poured boiling water over the mounds, and they went away. I have lots of geckos/lizards living around my foundation outside, so I think they eat all sorts of little bugs that would otherwise go into my house. I have on occasion used those “Combat” traps in isolated areas, like the garage (I have dogs, so I can’t leave them lying around). I am wondering why I don’t have a pest problem, or why so many others have to call pest control services? Am I lucky? Or is it that I have an organic (more or less) yard, so that I have a balance of good and bag insects and reptiles, so nothing gets out of control? I think I saw one roach in my garage once, years ago. I killed it, then put out several of those Combat traps. I also found a rat in my garage once; I found out the hole he used to get there, I blocked it off, then I shooed the little guy out of my garage. I never saw him again. I guess he went to a neighbor’s and got killed.

  • Ben May 18, 2010, 10:30 am

    Sounds like you’re one of the lucky few who don’t have bug problems! If you find out what the secret of your success it, please be sure to let the rest of us know!

  • Linda June 25, 2010, 4:43 pm

    I wish I was one of the few lucky ones! Ants, I can deal with, but YELLOW JACKETS WASPS,
    I cannot! They are building a nest right outside my bedroom window. Because I have older windows, I need to keep it on a lock-down! I think I need to call someone to deal with it.

    P.S I’m a entomophobia!!! I can’t deal with it!

  • Stan December 11, 2010, 3:06 am

    Orkin is better than Terminix, they make Terminix inspectors drive their own cars and the Mangers all they care about us their budget, and on the annual warranties claim they will repair new damage, hence the word new… it is tough to tell and if one Google’s Terminix Complaints there are so many lawsuits and claims if you know the Law, Terminix should be shut down; Orkin has cleaned house have very very good inspectors , the best training, background checked and drug tested employees, and Orkin is so much better in Quality and take care of issues, yes there are issues with every company, but it is how it is solved that is Important Orkin is Good!! Ecolab also does not have dedicated Termite teams, But Orkin Does!! Go with Orkin they are the Best I have seen. All in all the answer is yes Orkin is worth it.

  • Dave January 29, 2011, 11:27 pm

    Two words “Quality Pro” see what it takes for a pest control company to be Quality Pro certified and you will find out why Orkin is the only one that is. Its the ISO9000 of the pest control industry. I can personally account for an Orkin office that has thousands of keys to the homes of their customers, and not one complaint or personal article ever missing from any of the homes…. Know why? Quality pro mandates multiple drug tests annually, criminial back ground checks annually and many many other measurables that the “mom and pop” companies cant and wont ever do. As far as people coming into my home with out me there. I will only ever have Orkin. And when I got termites, yup they gave me a check for the damages. Not a hack to come fix it but a check to do with it what I wanted. I took half of the settlement check and went on vacation while the repairs were being done (the other half went to the contractor I hired, not them) God bless Orkin / Rollins!

  • Frye February 6, 2011, 11:21 am

    It’s funny that Orkin employees have to disrespect other companies in order to make thier’s look good. In my opinion that is disgraceful and un-called for. Every company has pro’s and con’s. It all comes down to the technician that you get and my family loves our Terminix tech. Lastly, all I can say is research your dicision to get a pest service by asking friends and family, one of them are likely to have a pest service that they are happy with.

  • MoeMe February 9, 2011, 3:46 pm

    What started as a small remodel turned into hell. After ripping up the floor in what was a old storage area we found:
    1 ) a dirt ( muddy wet stinking hole ) crawl space ( the rest of the house has a cement cellar )
    2) major grey water leak ( water from a second floor shower/sink just emptying out onto the dirt floor of crawl space)
    3) rotted wood
    4) sigh….and termite damage ( termites love water love wood love dirt love dark warm and love my home )

    Orkin wanted 1400
    nine other local pest places wanted from 700 to 1500

    We found that most exterminators use Termidor ( bought powder termidor off ebay that will make 100 gallons of product that will cover 250 linear feet thats enough to do the out side of our home and small out building )
    Termidor powder cost 125 dollars ( spray in six inch deep holes around base of house every one yard ..over kill but we wanted to teach them a lesson!! )
    Bug spayer ( the kind you use to spray fruit trees ) 14 dollars at Home depot
    Spectracide Terminate Termite Killing Stakes 38 dollars Ebay used to kill off colony ( same active ingredient the pros use )

    The author of the above piece has a interesting view of bugs but then again I would never pay 600 dollars to rid my life of ants.
    Ants are ants ..termites were eating my home and all bets were off.
    Its a shame professionals seem to like to take advantage when they think they have you. But a little cancer causing ( just kidding …i hope ) bug killer is not going to stop me from making termite killing a DIY project.

    Borax makes a great fire resident for clothing!
    my two young children dig in the dirt for fun so I guess they are in dangers of having ” health hazards ” but mud pies are fun!

  • Daniel March 19, 2011, 10:45 pm

    Terminix is the oldest and largest pest control company in the world. They use their own vehicles only for sales and their pest techs have the best training in the business. Or kin was a company that branched from Terminix that is why they are so similar but for every web complaint I can show you or your Terminix pro 3 or 4 checks where we paid damage.

  • Nathan April 11, 2011, 10:03 pm

    Hello, my name is Nathan and I work for Orkin pest Control. Orkin did not branch off from Terminix like Daniel said. According to their own website they were founded in 1927. Orkin was founded in 1901. This stuff really doesn’t matter though, you have to be worried about now. I actually just paid a damage claim today to homeowner because termites had gotten to a board by their sink. MoeMe you may want to look into those directions again, you sound a bit “light” on the chemicals. Termidor Dry is very new and we mostly use Termidor SC. I am not telling anyone how to treat their home or offering advice but I want to make sure you don’t get mislead by products that offer “one size fits all” answers. Normally applied in Mississippi, Termidor is mixed and put in the soil at a rate of 4 gals per 10 linear feet. Your trench is dug normally 4 inches wide and about 6 inches deep. fill it with chemical, backfill it with soil and then treat over the top of it. Do not disturb the soil and if you do retreat. Home in colder climates don’t have to worry as much as homes in tropical climates. If you take the time to remodel in a termite prone area and have access please treat the soil and any cracks in the slab. Hope this helps someone avoid problems in the future.

  • a raye April 17, 2011, 6:29 pm

    Orkin was so rude to me!!!

  • Ben April 17, 2011, 8:58 pm

    Hey Raye, please be more specific with your experiences with Orkin if you can! What were the circumstances surrounding them being rude to you?

  • Ben April 17, 2011, 9:13 pm

    Thanks for the clarification and taking the time to give us an Orkin “insider’s” perspective! With any large service company you’re going to have a few times when a service call goes wrong (it’s inevitable). Even the Four Seasons Hotel has service failures every now and again. The important thing is that the companies learn from these mistakes and develop control measure to reduce the likelyhood of these same failures happening in the future. I think both Terminix and Orkin are savvy enough companies to do this already.

  • TermiOrk May 1, 2011, 10:16 am

    The person who posted above who stated the results/quality of service is determined by the individual who services your home is correct. I have worked for both companies and attended their training, seen sales practices, and administrative practices. I do not think one is better than the other and the same applies to “mom and pops”. There are good ones and bad ones. What makes the difference is the person who services your house. I suggest buying local after reading reviews from various sources and excluding the BBB who were caught selling improved grades for a fee.

  • Art June 6, 2011, 4:02 pm

    I own a fairly small company here in Vermont, and there is quite a bit of misinformation here, as there often are in these blogs and most subjects. In my OPINION, there are good and bad pest control professionals, and the size of the company does not matter. Some of the best people I know come from Orkin and Terminix, as well as some of the worst. It is the individual, not the shirt that he is wearing, that matters.

  • Alex September 2, 2011, 12:45 pm

    This thread has been going for some time, but I thought i’d add my two cents which might be relevant to some.

    We had a house built in Spring of 2010 and moved in May 2010, and from the first few weeks we started seeing a few fire ants here and there around the house. With two small children and a dog I didn’t want to use anything harsh, so I mainly focused on the outside spraying Ortho Home Defense around the foundation and Amdro throughout the yard. Well come September 2010 I found about 100 fire ants in our bathroom, and over the next two days we found our house was literally invaded by fire ants in all bedrooms, both bathrooms, and within a few weeks even coming out of the ceiling. Literally a nightmare!

    From that first week we called a local bug company who services both my work and our kid’s school, and the guy did a great job treating the inside and outside but he was dumbfounded since he and every other resources i’ve read said Fire Ants do not invade or nest inside houses, they may forage but not much else. Well our place was literally invaded…

    After a month with multiple visits from the bug guy who was bringing in other resources he had since the level of invasion we had was literally unprecedented I read online that ants can sometimes come up from the sand trap under bathtubs, which I didn’t even know these things existed … and pulling off the side of our master bath tub in October 2010 indeed revealed a rather large mound that had been built up under the tub in the sand trap where the pipes ran into the tub plus the vent pipe to the attic which gave ants access to the attic. The best way I can describe it was a 1+ inch thick ‘rope’ of ants coming from the sand trap into the wall, literally thousands!!! I don’t know how deep under the foundation the mound went, but it took up the entire 1′ x 1′ sand trap.

    He treated the trap with Termidore SC, and though Termidore doesn’t work overnight we did start seeing a decline in ants over the next week or two. He also used Termidore in the wall voids behind all sinks, tubs, and toilets just incase they were coming up in other parts of the house through the pipes under the house, but I think they were going through the attic instead following pipes, wiring, and duct work since we had a few cases of them coming out of HVAC vents in the ceiling.

    By December and January 2011 the number of ants was down to a minimum and the last one I saw was in March 2011 (knock on wood). I’ve since filled in the sand trap with tar and I continue to monitor it every month or two just to be safe, but hopefully this helped eliminate that problem.

    As for maintaining a contract with a pest control business, if you never have problems or have a few ant mounds around your hard, get a bottle of Amdro and do it yourself, but if anything beyond that I highly recommend the $30/month to get a bug guy you can call whenever.

  • Nathan September 7, 2011, 11:53 am

    No problem Ben, it was my pleasure. I think you and everyone that said it depends a lot on the service person you have is correct. We try very hard to hire the best but sometimes a bad one gets hired. Raye, I would also like to know a bit more about your problem because Orkin has a nice lady, Martha Craft, that handles customer complaints. Even though a location may have the big name brand on the front door, it may be a locally owned franchise. Great blog, keep the comments comming!

  • sam March 5, 2012, 5:02 pm

    terminix is the worst i just cancelled my service cause fist off the offer too much and never delivered like they say if u have a problem in the three months we will come out almost the next day. but when i made a appointment online they called back ans said hey cant make it sorry and the person who called me hung on on me. wait a sec i though i was the customer and it was my home there serviceing. i don’t understand and about the ant so far paid them for a year and still ants in my house im not dirty just live on a slab but still i paid 130 every three month to live with ants.

  • Holly April 29, 2012, 3:13 am

    What company is best for gettin rid of bedbugs? And what is the cost

  • samantha July 13, 2012, 11:02 pm

    i have read alot of negative reviews about orkin which kinda scares me cause i just had orkin come out yesterday to treat for roaches. i have to say the guy treating my house was very nice and early and i live in the country he did have to call once and make sure he was in the right place and still made it early. i so hope i get a good experience with orkin cause i cant not live with these roaches anymore this is the first time ive ever dealt with them and i got them from kids stayin the night who had them at there house and i helped a cousin move who had them next thing i knew i had them since i didnt really know what to do they got pretty bad so im praying that orkin is my answer if anyone has been treated for roaches with orkin could you let me know if they got rid of the problem or not again i had a really great guy yall said its the person treating your house that matters any way just let me know plz

  • Art July 14, 2012, 7:13 am

    Most of the OrkiN guys are okay. If you got these roaches as you say you did and you live in a single family home, you should be fine. The baits that are used these days work extremely well. They should be gone in three months max. You don’t need a full year service as you probably signed up for.

  • las vegas pest control January 16, 2013, 1:55 pm

    Sed nibh elit, luctus at sagittis eget, gravida vel lorem. Mauris ac leo ac mauris euismod congue id non leo. Duis vitae mollis felis. Vivamus quis tempor neque. Quisque venenatis faucibus felis, et consectetur augue molestie sed. In hendrerit venenatis nisl vulputate egestas. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. Suspendisse ornare mollis dui. Suspendisse dolor arcu, adipiscing quis condimentum vel, mattis vel libero. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Nulla pulvinar, justo at viverra imperdiet, dolor metus dapibus mauris, congue faucibus dolor quam ac mi.

  • rightangle January 21, 2013, 11:23 pm

    Pest control company X, Y and Z are a dime a dozen. Some of the kind of home owner’s, renter’s are the cause of their own pest problem. You should see some of the stench they live with as if it were normal. Then they expect a agent to produce a miracle and make the pest’s disappear. So some home’s are easy and other’s would make one shudder. The customer too often is rude, arrogant, know it all and cheap. You really think an agent is going to tell a client to ”clean up” their crud? Bugs love filthy people, period. Bugs are 24/7 as humans are not. Bugs reproduce exponentially and eat 24/7. Every hole and crack under and around your dwelling is an invitation to eat your wet wood, crumbs, drink your leaking water, untreated wood/material and your blood. Clean up yourself, your family mess, your yard, keep water leaks fixed, get ALL of those crack’s and hole’s plugged/caulked, inside under, around and use a safe bug zapper at night to reduce flying pests. 50% of bug invasion come’s from filthy habit’s. If you are cleaner then your neighbor the bug’s will leave your home for their’s. Or they are so bad, they come to invade the the whole neighborhood. Cleaner people = cleaner home’s = cleaner planet.

  • ladydove October 2, 2014, 8:30 am

    Is there an cost effective alternative to treat roaches without calling an exterminator?

  • Ben October 2, 2014, 4:25 pm

    I’m not familiar with any DIY roach extermination techniques. Fortunately, all we have to deal with in Maine (for the most part) are those darn ants!

  • Nathan October 2, 2014, 5:51 pm

    Hello Ladydove,

    First I would like to say that although I can’t offer any advice legally because I would hate for someone to get hurt if they were to try it. When we “clean out” a home for roaches we use both chemical and non chemical control methods. I’ll go ahead and list what we do if you would like to try.
    A vacuum, a small shop vac 1 1/2 gallon size for 20 bucks. Use this to remove roaches and their eggs. Make sure to empty it right after in an outdoor trash can, the eggs can still hatch up to a week later.
    Baits, brand name cockroach baits such as MaxForce ond Green Dragon are excellent. They work very well and offer a second generation kill, meaning when the baby cockroaches eat the droppings and bodies of the adults killed by baits they too die. Just remember to place a lot of pea size amount placements of bait all around the infested areas. More placements will give the cockroaches plenty of opportunities to feed.
    Glue Boards for mice. They also make a special glue board for cockroaches with an attractant. This is great but you can also use the ones made for mice. Cockroaches will be trapped and even if they lay an egg, the little ones will also get trapped.
    A lot of the chemicals that pest control companies use can be found at a feed supply or pest control company storefront. Try to avoid Raid, Bengal, ect. When asking for a pest control chemical be sure to ask for a “Residual” chemical because these types of chemicals last a lot longer than other types.
    Be sure not to spray any chemicals on or around your glue boards or baits because they will no longer work on the cockroaches. Baits work by hiding the poison as “food” for the cockroach, so if you put chemical on top of it they won’t want to eat it.
    I hope this helps a little and if you have some more questions please feel free to ask, I enjoy helping people get rid of pests.

  • Ben October 2, 2014, 6:35 pm

    Thanks for your advice on getting rid of roaches Nathan!

  • Nathan October 2, 2014, 7:05 pm

    No problem Ben, great site!

  • Christie March 23, 2015, 5:38 am

    Need help…. Last summer I purchased a piece of furniture from craigslist that came with some unwanted guests (cockroaches) and lots of them. Needless to say I went and threw the furniture back at the stupid lady who denied having them and got my money back. Since then we’ve been seeing one here, one there but over the past few weeks we have been seeing more and more babies. They were isolated to the kitchen only and just yesterday I found a baby in the hall bathroom. Any advice to get rid of these bastards and prevent them from spreading?

  • Ben April 27, 2015, 11:22 am

    Yowzers!!!! That suck indeed! Unfortunately, I don’t really have much experience with cockroaches (live in Maine). Perhaps someone else on here can offer an opinion…

  • Bently May 15, 2015, 6:00 pm

    Terminix is the way to go. They are professional and accurate. I have dealt with both Terminix and Orkin. Orkin techs will show up in white shirts and khaki pants and while inspecting, will never crawl under homes. Terminix shows up in grey and black uniforms and will crawl to the futhest spot under your home or in your attic and post an inspection tag with their name, date, and time. If any mistakes are made on Terminix’s end, they will make it right and pay for it themselves. They are the way to go.

  • Ben May 19, 2015, 11:46 am

    Thank you for your terminix recommendation and sharing your experiences!

  • Mn June 22, 2015, 3:34 pm

    I Have a bazillion ant hills in my 1 acre lawn…..have tried ortho bug b gone granules twice and no luck, then tried terro Orange shaker can and treated every ant hill I could find but now they simply made new ant hills…..some are small ants and others are confirmed carpenter ants…..I live in mn , by the river, in a sand prairie. What can I try that’s residual & will kill these things?

Leave a Comment