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His exterminator won't treat for termites....

Gram's exterminator says it's against the law....


Recently I  discovered termites had invaded my basement wall panel. When I called my exterminator (who I have a contract with) he came and said he could not do any treatment because he saw no "live Activity." According to him, the law would not let him do it.  He could not tell me if any continuing damages were occurring.  Is this true that he could not do anything until spring when he would come back and inspect for active termites?

I would appreciate any information you could tell me.


And I wrote back with....

Hello, Gram:

This is a hard call.  And since I don't know a lot of the details, is not fair for me to answer directly.  All of what he says could be true, and it just depends on each individual case.  Not the answer you wanted, I know, but to be fair, there are times when I would give exactly the same assessment.

If your contracted exterminator has already treated the house in the past, here in New Jersey, he WOULD be required to observe activity before applying further treatment.  As opposed to a NEW exterminator, one that had never been there before, that exterminator COULD legally apply or recommend treatment.  This is because the new guy has no history on the property and must assume that the evidence is indeed "active" even though it might not be active when he observes it. An ethical exterminator, one who is interested in doing his job rather than just collecting dollars, would ask you who treated the property before.  Assuming that company is still in business, and you can deal with them, then this is the company you would try to continue with.

If our company had treated your house in the past, and we could find no record of termites in that location, I would probably recommend treatment without waiting for a determination of activity.  After all, if it doesn't appear in our records, it might just be that it's "new" activity, even if it isn't presently active.  Again, it depends. Sometimes I am suspicious of something I see, in which case we do something, regardless of what the "law" is.  The exterminator actually has a lot of latitude on this - they can easily mark the record "suspicious of activity" and no state inspector would argue with that.  Sometimes the exterminator brings up the "law thing" just being ornery. The fact that yours offered to come back in the spring is good - after all he could have just said, "No."  The extra stop in the spring (better would be June-July-Aug) means that he wants to be sure before applying insecticides. Nothing wrong with that either.

I guess what it all boils down to, really, is "bedside manner."  If you get an exterminator without one, you're going to think he's a bum even if he really has your best interests at heart.  There have been situations where I also refuse to treat under the same kind of conditions such as you pose, but I am always careful to make sure the customer knows and understands that I am doing it in his best interests. Sometimes it's hard.

Sorry I couldn't give you a straight yes or no.  But maybe you can now gauge what the inspector said better, and make up your own mind about whether it was the right call.

Nice to hear from you.  Get back to me if you have more questions!


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