When the exterminator quotes a price for eliminating your bed bugs, how does he or she get that number? Bed bugs are unique pests that require specialized solutions. In this article, we will discuss the factors which affect the costs of bed bug extermination, as well as why the top pest control professionals are worth their price tag.
Bed Bug Extermination Cost Factors
There are 5 principal factors that determine the cost of bed bug treatment.
#1 Type of Bed Bug Treatment
The most significant factor in how much your bed bug extermination costs is which methods you use. There are many methods of bed bug treatment, and each of them has a different price tag.
- Chemical treatments (pesticides) are usually the least expensive, being commonly available. Pesticide application also only requires a single pest control professional in most cases.
- Thermal control (also known as heat treatment) tends to be pricier, as it requires multiple personnel from the pest control company (not to mention special equipment and safety precautions).
- Fumigation (sealing the building and piping in a fatal gas) requires an even greater degree of safety regulations, labor, and equipment.
- The prices of steam treatments (killing the bed bugs with superheated steam) and cryo treatment (freezing the bed bugs with carbon dioxide snow) fall somewhere in between chemical and heat treatment. These are both very effective spot treatments but are usually meant to be used in conjunction with other methods. (When it comes to bed bugs, a combination of multiple methods is always recommended.)
#2 Where You Live
Where you live affects the price tag of bed bug treatment for several reasons. The first is the law of supply and demand. If you live in an area with many pest control companies covering a relatively small population, extermination prices will be lower. If you live in an area with a high rate of bed bug infestations but only a few local pest control companies, extermination prices will be higher.
Secondly, certain methods are more available depending on your location. In the South, the Southeast, and Southern California—for instance—fumigation is cheaper because most companies have the equipment on hand (due to the prevalence of a particularly stubborn termite species). In the North and Northeast, however, fumigation is more expensive and used only as a final resort for large, multifamily dwellings. As a result, the cost of fumigation in New York costs 3-5 times as much as it does in Southern California.
#3 The Size of Your Home
Larger dwellings increase the pest control company’s own labor and supply costs. For pesticide treatment, larger homes require more liters of pesticide. For heat treatment, greater square footage requires more heaters, fans, and (sometimes) generator fuel.
Larger homes also have more furniture which will need to be moved, steamed, sprayed, or frozen by pest professionals, increasing the time and effort it takes to thoroughly complete the treatment.
#4: The Severity of the Infestation
The severity of the infestation may also affect costs. A severe infestation may call for more expensive methods, such as fumigation. It may also require multiple treatments, which could increase the price.
Some pest control companies offer packages that include a 30, 60, or 90-day guarantee, which is a good way of protecting yourself against the cost of repeated treatments.
#5 Who is Responsible for Paying
If you do not own your home, you may not be responsible for paying anything but your own laundry costs. In New York City, the landlord is usually required to pay for the cost of bed bug extermination. However, your landlord is not necessarily required to hire the best company for the job (more on this below).
Some insurance companies also offer bed bug insurance, which will cover part of the cost of bed bug extermination. However, companies that will cover New York City residents are few and far between.
So How Much Does it Actually Cost?
Now you know the factors involved, but what does this mean in terms of cash in your wallet? First, we will look at the average costs throughout the United States. According to Home Advisor, bed bug heat treatment averages $1-$3 per square foot, while chemical treatment averages $100-$500 per room.
Let’s use a typical 750 square foot, two-bedroom apartment in New York City as an example. This gives us a price of $750-$2,250 for heat treatment or $500-$2,500 for chemical treatment. However, NYC has a cost of living 129% higher than the national average. So if we multiply these prices by 2.29, we arrive at $1,717.50-$5,152.50 for heat treatment or $1,145-$5,725 for chemical treatment.
Meanwhile, Angie’s List gave the average NYC bed bug extermination cost as $500-$1500 back in 2013, (which is roughly $600-$1700 in 2021 dollars). Thumbtack gives an average cost of $390-$500 for NYC, but this is based on starting cost before any other considerations are factored in. This means bed bug extermination can cost a New Yorker anywhere from $300 dollars to over $5,000 dollars. (Note: fumigation may be even more.) That’s quite a range for a single city!
This range leads us to one final factor involved in the cost of bed bug extermination: the quality of the pest control company you choose.
Why Quality Matters for Bed Bug Exterminators
It’s important to choose the right pest control company for you. Let’s assume that every pest control company you are considering is legitimately licensed and reasonably experienced. You still may want to avoid the cheapest price tag. Below are a few reasons why.
The top pest control companies often possess safer and eco-friendly options for bed bug extermination. For instance, heat, steam, and cryo treatments do not leave chemical residues in the home. Your run-of-the-mill pest company may not have the equipment for these eco-friendly options.
Depending on the company you hire, the type of pesticide they use can also range from relatively harmless to very cheap and irritating. Some pest control companies use botanically-derived pesticides, which are developed from plants or minerals. This does not mean that botanically-derived pesticides are nontoxic; after all, they still need to kill bed bugs. However, they do tend to break down more quickly in the environment and tend to have lower toxicity for mammals. Botanically-derived pesticides give many consumers peace of mind when selecting a pesticide treatment.
Knowledge of the Bed Bug Habits and Life-Cycle
Bed bugs are very good at avoiding total annihilation. They can hide in the most unexpected places, and they find the tiniest cracks to exploit.
The proper application of bed bug pesticides requires the experience and knowledge of a specialist since bed bugs have developed resistance to certain common pesticides. This means using a specific concentration and combination of pesticides targeted for bed bugs. Sometimes, surviving bed bug eggs also can hatch after all the adults have perished, creating new problems and requiring further treatment.
Actually Solving the Problem
The biggest risk of hiring the wrong company to exterminate your bed bugs is that they won’t be eliminated, and you will then need to hire a better exterminator. This means you could nearly double your costs if you hire an unreliable pest control company. By doing some research beforehand to hire vetted and reputable professionals, you can minimize this risk from the get go.
The cost of bed bug treatment can be confusing, but if you understand the factors involved, then your personal price tag will make sense. Not all pest control services are created equal. When it comes to bed bugs, resist the temptation to settle for the cheapest option.