UC Berkeley UPMC - Pest Control

Choosing a Pest Control Company

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of insects.

The rule-of-thumb when dealing with contractors and services companies is to protect yourself from unlicensed and unprofessional activities. Obtaining at least three written price quotes before deciding on a service is highly recommended. A good source to aid you in selecting a reliable pest control service is the Pest Control Operators of California (PCOC). There you can find a list of certified and licensed pest control companies in your area.

For some states, California included, the pest control industry regulates itself through a board composed of industry and public members. In California, this board is called the Structural Pest Control Board (SPCB). Individuals and companies seeking to do business in California must be licensed by this board and show evidence of insurance. The SPCB maintains a database of consumer complaints against firms contracted to conduct pest management work. If undecided on the qualifications of a firm, you can request information from the complaint database. However, this database is only helpful if you know the company name or license number. An additional limitation is that the database is only maintained for several years before being purged.

Oh No, I Think I Have Termites

Although termites are very important decomposes, homeowners are never thrilled to find them in their house. Subterranean termites and drywood termites are two of the most economically important pests in California. Knowing which type of termite is munching on your house is vital for determining what type of control to employ. Subterranean termites live underground and build tunnels to access above ground wood. Finding mud tubes and shed wings are two signs of subterranean termites. Treatments for subterranean termites include soil termiticides, mechanical barriers, and baits. Drywood termites live above ground and nest within the wood they feed on. Often you will find tiny kick-out holes and a pile of pellets next to drywood termite damaged wood. Treatments for drywood termites include spot treatments with a termiticide, fumigation, and heat. Both types of termites are very difficult to control, so it is recommended to contact a pest control company for pest identification and treatment.

Insect Identification

There are thousands of species of insects found in California. Realistically, only several dozen are considered economic pests of urban environments. For those who need identification help for household, garden or landscape pests, please contact your county's Master Gardeners for pest identification and management resources. These are volunteers working with University of California Cooperative Extension County Offices.

For information on pests of home garden and landscape, please go to UC Davis Pest Notes series.

For commonly encountered spiders of California please visit this site created by UC Berkeley Entomology Graduate Student Steve Lew.

For mites and medically important arthropods please see your local State Public Health Office or look for the Mosquito and Vector Control Association of California district local to your area.

For insects and other arthropod requests from states outside California, please consult your local State university, county agent, or State Department of Agriculture. For international requests, please contact your local university, museum, or ministries of agriculture and environment.

You can search the UPMC website for photos and information pertaining to specific insect orders.

California insects

California insect diversity


Pinning Californian insects & spreading wings

Wood Destroying Insect

Collection wood destroying insects