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What Is The Difference Between Pest Control And An Exterminator?

A: The term, “Pest Control” in Houston, can vary based on what’s being eliminated.  Is it a raccoon, is it a squirrel, is it a cockroach, is it a termite? An exterminator, or the word exterminator, generally applies to the technician that is performing the pest control. It is usually the applicator of the product for pest control.


So, people keep asking us, “what’s the difference between an exterminator and pest control?” While the difference Scott is talking about is true—there’s actually a more important difference. The term exterminator, while sometimes applied to the technician, also refers to a different solution for unwanted pests. In fact, “exterminator” is an antiquated term that references a mostly bygone method of years past.

A long time ago, people used to see a mouse or have an ant infestation and look for an “extermination company.” What they were referring to is a chemical response to a problem of nature and the treatment is often very invasive. You had to leave your house while dangerous chemicals were pumped throughout the house to eradicate the pests.

Sometimes this method of treatment worked, but often—the problem would return shortly after. This is because those treatments were only temporary solutions, not a long-term fix. For a long time in this industry, and even today, some people want to “kill bugs dead.” Or as we call it, they want a bug RAID! —see what we did there? Sure, those bug spray commercials seem convincing but, it’s not a realistic solution.

We know when you have a roach, flea, or other insect problem you want the results in the commercials. You want to see dead bugs being swept up by a technician in a hazmat suit because it gives you what we call “Safety Theater.” You see all the visual signs of a powerful response, you see the eradicated bugs, and you see the dangerous equipment. Because of all that imagery, you believe your home is safe from pests and the problem is gone for good.

That couldn’t be further from the truth. Real solutions are found with pest control in Houston, not harsh chemical treatments.


The word, “exterminate” means to destroy something, kill, eradicate, etc., so it’s easy to see the imagery homeowners associate with that term. Now, that word may indeed mean all of those things—regarding Houston pest control, it rarely happens. Failing to eradicate or wipe from existence many of these pests is ironically a good thing. This is because as annoying as those bees, ants, or spiders may be, they play a major ecological role.  Over the years, advancement in Houston pest control evolved from “extermination” to control and prevention.

The fact of the matter is, we still don’t want ants, spiders, and other potentially dangerous insects in our home. Since “extermination” is only temporary the obvious solution is to find a way to keep them from entering your home in the first place.

We believe pest issues must be controlled and contained responsibly to keep them out of your home while still protecting our environment. 

While actual exterminators that use harsh pesticides and dangerous chemicals do still exist, that’s not what pest control is about. The evidence is in the wording itself—exterminators simply kill the pests. We, however, seek to change the conditions in the home and perimeter that attract them to your home. When we do have to use chemicals to deter pests from entering your home—they are far less toxic and are environmentally friendly. Many of the chemicals we use are odorless, harmless to pets and applications can be targeted down to a very precise area. Also, many times we use solutions that do eradicate the issue in an ongoing fashion without any pesticides at all.

The biggest difference of Houston pest control is that we seek a long-term fix not band-aid solutions to your problem.  

The More You Know…

The evolution of Houston pest control has resulted in using chemicals that are more environmentally friendly, and less dangerous. However, another important part of this evolution is the education of pest control professionals in the field. For example, at Champions, our technicians go through extensive training in subjects such as:

  • Entomology
  • Insect and Pest Behaviors
  • Natural Determent
  • Pest Relocation Methods
  • Humane Capture

In understanding these subjects and many more, our technicians can make minimally invasive treatment decisions. Treatments that not only benefit you and your family’s safety but benefit our environment as well. Having this knowledge allows us to take species-specific approaches to drive pests from your home and keep them out. That requires knowing the pest we are dealing with and what attracts or deters their migration toward your home.

So, in summary— exterminators and Houston pest control technicians have the same end goals. We just go about them in very different ways.

Another important aspect of pest control vs. extermination—pest control is both a preventative and an eliminative solution. It is not something you just do when you have a pest infestation, it is something you do year-round. Houston’s tropical-like climate and proximity to the gulf coast make it prime grounds for many insects. Also, with Hurricane season in full swing, preventative pest control is even more important. Why? We’re glad you asked.


While the recent storm, Hurricane Laura missed Houston, we still felt the effects of its surge. Heavy rainfall and thunderstorms brought about many pest problems. It’s only a matter of time before another storm threatens our backyard as well.

You might be asking yourself how a weather system such as a hurricane or tropical storm can cause pest problems. The answer is simple—displacement and high or standing water increases pest populations.

Many Houston clients we serve mistakenly think that a huge storm wipes out a ton of insects and other pests. It seems plausible, with the torrential rainfall, bayou flooding, and high winds, that it would wash them out. What might surprise you though, is that it boosts the insect population more than it eradicates it. That is because with the storms comes leftover debris and standing water. This creates a perfect breeding ground for many insects in Houston—especially mosquitoes. We all know the mosquitoes here are on steroids or something because they just don’t seem to die.

Also, rodents such as mice, scavengers such as raccoons, and other wild animals such as bobcats get displaced in a storm. They are forced from their shelters and burrows and hurry to find high ground or somewhere dry. Often, that means under your house, in your attic, or your garage. Likewise, other animals seek shelter and bring parasites such as fleas, lice, and ticks with them. So even if the animals return to their environment after the storm—the fleas and ticks are there to stay.

Mosquitoes & Other Insects

Regarding mosquitoes and other insects, they tend to flourish after a storm. In the case of mosquitoes, they benefit from the extreme saturation levels in the soil. Once soil has taken on as much water as it can, the water begins to cause pool up, and spill over into cracks and crevices. That water becomes stagnant and is perfect for them to lay their eggs, and we’re talking thousands…not a dozen or so.

Fire ants while born underground, still need oxygen to live, therefore they come to the surface when it gets too wet. Since ants work together in colonies they link up and will float along a stream of water along the curb or in a bayou. Once they can get to high or dry ground, they re-settle and build a new shelter—often in your backyard. Fire ants are particularly aggressive and for some who are allergic—they can pose a danger.

All in all, Houston pest control is something you should invest in year-round. It will save you money from constantly calling an “exterminator” to eradicate a problem—that will always come back. Consistent prevention and containment is the only solution that will keep your home and yard safe.


Don’t wait until after a major storm to contact us. To be honest, that is the worst time to begin any pest control treatment. Most companies are overloaded with calls, and the ground is so saturated it dilutes any treatments.

Contact us today and prepare your home for any onslaught of migrating pests before a storm hits.

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