What is an exterminator, and how does it differ from pest control? Is there a difference between these two terms of eliminating pests?

Pest control focuses more on the possible causes of why pests have been lingering around your home. It looks for the root cause and comes up with solutions to improve the situation. Meanwhile, pest extermination means eliminating unwanted pests through chemicals that may or may not be harmful.

Pest control and exterminator have the same goal but use different methods. Both of these pest management services aim to prevent pest infestation. So, you must understand what these words mean and what they can do for you. 

Understanding Pest Control And Exterminator

People may have been quick to pick up the phone and say, “I need these ants exterminated now!” once they started seeing pests inside their homes. Unfortunately, some people would think that the only solution is by using very chemically invasive treatment.

Years ago, applying harsh chemicals was the only way to remove pests at homes, even for a professional exterminator. The chemicals were so harsh that they required homeowners to stay outside of their homes for hours. Then, the exterminator would pump chemicals into the walls and “bomb” them with pesticides.

These treatments worked sometimes, but often they didn’t. Even if the extermination worked by using strong pesticides, the pests would eventually return. So, the chemical treatment was just a band-aid solution.

The History

Going back a hundred or more years in early America and Europe, there were “Rat Catchers.” The old rat catchers used traps or animals, such as dogs known as “ratters.” In certain parts of Asia and the Indian subcontinent, dogs are still brought in to hunt down rats.

As the nation slowly progressed, so did the techniques we used in our daily lives, including eliminating pests.


Sometime later, rat catchers evolved into “extermination” with the use of certain terrible poisons. It included arsenic and lead compounds, as well as strychnine. It was like an all-out war against rodents, cockroaches, and bedbugs. But, again, people’s hatred for pests was evident, and they would go to any length to get rid of them.

Throughout the first part of the 20th century and into the 1970s, the exterminator was the most common term for a pest control individual or company. At the time, ads in newspapers and phone books included gruesome images of pests getting smashed with hammers or bombs being dropped on them. 

The idea was to eliminate all pests. Pests, of course, we’re never wholly exterminated. Instead of focusing on preventing pest infestations in the first place, people continued to respond violently to pest infestations. During this stage of early extermination, what mattered most was the “power to kill” pests.

They believed pests only bring harm to human health. While it is true that pets can be carriers of infectious diseases, they also help balance the ecosystem. But of course, nobody wants to see any pests in their homes. Thus, it is crucial to consider the environment when treating problems.

Pest Control

After the era of pest extermination came pest control. Then, it was more of addressing people’s pest problems. Today, we have the generic term “pest control” that has developed substantially over time. It doesn’t only include spraying pesticides but focuses on why pests love to linger in someone’s home. 

The Difference Between Pest Control And Exterminator

Pest control focuses on careful planning about immediate pest infestation and how to prevent reinfestation. Meanwhile, eliminating quick pest infestation is the primary concern of extermination. 

Extermination is concerned with eliminating the immediate pest infestation. In contrast, pest control is concerned with both the immediate pest infestation and how to prevent reinfestation. Although its purpose of removing pests may be identical, exterminators and pest control have a few differences.


Exterminate means “to fully destroy,” “kill,” “put to death,” “erase from existence,” and so on. These are heavy meanings that may be linked to exterminators. It implies eradicating a pest population, which rarely happens because pests play an essential part in the environment and ecology of our planet.

Still, we don’t want to see unwelcome pests in our homes. It is undesirable to see cockroaches or rats running on your floorings. More so, ants and spiders don’t look pleasing as well. Worst of all, bugs can bite us, which could spread sickness and cause damage to your home.

It is where the services of a professional pest control company rescue you. It helps you solve your pest problems safely, eliminate them, and prevent future problems. Expert pest control and exterminators know how to plan proper solutions to safeguard your home from pests without harming the environment.

The Goal

The primary goal of an exterminator is to eliminate the pests. Unfortunately, they don’t always get to the base of the problem with pests. It is true for some exterminators today that only rely on using pesticides exclusively to eliminate your pest problems. The goal is to stop pest infestation through short-term solutions by not going to the root of the insect problem.

On the other hand, pest control is the key to curbing long-term pests prevention and management. It is more about determining how the pest infestation started. This way, pest control professionals can advise how to make your home less welcoming to pests. The primary goal is to eliminate pests through less toxic chemicals, both to humans and pets.

Chemicals Used

Exterminators that still rely on old-school pest termination techniques use pesticides to get rid of unwanted pests. The problem with it is that it may become more dangerous than necessary. Meanwhile, pest control utilizes more environmentally friendly methods to eliminate pests. The chemical solutions used are effective against pests but have a low odor and are less hazardous to humans and pets. 

Pest Control Practitioners and Exterminators

Exterminators mostly use harsh pesticides to eliminate unwanted pests. On the other hand, a pest control practitioner focuses on why the pests are present and looks to alter the conditions. Thus, it doesn’t require strong pesticides unless necessary.

Some pest control companies today still use “exterminators” in their names. But it doesn’t mean that they only rely on traditional ways of eliminating pests. Nowadays, many pest management companies employ environmentally friendly chemicals that are efficient and effective against any pests. At the same time, it is less harmful to humans and other animals.

So, it is crucial that you speak with a company that knows both about pest control and the proper extermination of pests at your home. Always look for long-term solutions to prevent pest infestation in the future.

Safe Pest Control And Exterminator

Pest control and exterminator have many differences, but they serve the same purpose – it’s to eliminate unwelcome pests at home. In fact, it’s more effective to combine the benefits of these pest solutions.

First, you need to identify why pests want to stay in your home through proper pest control. Then, use the best environmentally-friendly chemicals for proper pest extermination. It gives you long-term pest management rather than band-aid solutions through spraying chemicals.

Pest control and extermination require professional help. You need pest control experts if you are tired of spraying over-the-counter pest chemicals or buying mouse traps.

Expel Exterminators LLC

3622 Tuers Road San Jose, CA 95121

(408) 417-1545

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