Each year Maryland homes and yards come under attack from a variety of pests, ranging
from pests, such as termites, ants, bees and mice that invade structures to the weeds and insect
pests found in the lawn and landscape. The term "pest" includes insects, weeds, plant diseases,
nematodes, birds, rodents, snails and slugs. Materials used to control these pests are defined as
pesticides and would include the following groups of materials: herbicides, insecticides,
fungicides, miticides, growth regulators, desiccants, and rodenticides.
In an effort to control these pest problems, many homeowners rely on the pest control
services offered by commercial businesses. Unfortunately, each year a number of homeowners are
swindled by unlicensed or unscrupulous companies. During the past several years, the Maryland
Department of Agriculture s (MDA) Pesticide Regulation Section has seen an increase in the
number of homeowners defrauded by unlicensed firms. In one case, a Dorchester County resident
was duped out of $14,000 for unnecessary termite and wood boring beetle pest control and repair
MDA is responsible for regulating the sale, use, and storage of pesticides and for
enforcing the Maryland Pesticide Applicators Law. As part of these requirements, MDA is also
responsible for establishing guidelines and requirements for the application of pesticides, the
certification of pesticide applicators and the licensing of businesses offering pest control services.
Any business that is offering pest control services, or applying any type of pesticide for hire, as
part of a service or contract agreement is required to have a Pesticide Business License and have
at least one certified pesticide applicator who has demonstrated competence in the use of
Pesticides, to be effective, are toxic to plants or animals and vary in the range of toxicity
to humans. The degree of hazard to humans or pets can be reduced if pesticides are applied
according to label directions and if the appropriate precautions are followed by the applicator and
the customer. For this reason, selecting a pest control service is just as important as selecting any
other professional service.
In order to help protect consumers and ensure they are getting the
service they paid for, MDA suggests that consumers take the following precautions before
contracting for any pest control services:
All commercial pesticide businesses and public agencies that apply
pesticides must satisfy specific requirements for the protection of consumers as provided in the
Regulations pertaining to the Pesticide Applicators Law. They include the following:
You can minimize your exposure to pesticides by removing all cooking utensils, toys, pet
items, sports equipment, lawn furniture, and other similar items from the area to be treated;
closing windows and doors if an application is to be made outside; keeping adults, children and
pets away from treated areas not standing in the areas during or immediately after a pesticide
application; keeping off the treated area until the spray has dried or dusts have settled unless
instructed otherwise; reading the information provided by the pest control company and following
the precautionary statements for the pesticide applied to the property.
Protect yourself, family, pets and property by asking questions and understanding the pest
problem and the proposed control methods. Evaluate the results to ensure the treatment was
successful and done as proposed. If you suspect that a company is offering pest control services
without being properly licensed, if a pesticide misuse has occurred, if you want to receive more
information on pesticide regulations, or would like to request an investigation, contact the:
Maryland Department of Agriculture
Pesticide Regulation Section
50 Harry S Truman Parkway
Annapolis, MD 21401
Send E-mail to Robert Hofstetter
To find out more, call Pesticide Regulation at 410-841-5710.
Call for emergency information on treating poisonings from any cause, including
pesticides. Operates 24 hours a day.
Call for information on regulations, certification and licensing, report accidents, spills, and complaints concerning the possible misuse of pesticides. Open 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Monday through Friday.
Contact for information and leaflets, on pests and pest control. Provides information
on the identification of insects, weeds, diseases and other pests; pest control methods, including
pesticides and alternatives; choosing plants least affected by pest problems; integrated pest
management programs; and the safe handling, storage and disposal of pesticides.
Call for non-emergency information on pesticide product chemistry, protective
equipment, safety, health and /or environmental effects, clean-up, disposal and regulations. This
is a toll-free service funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and operated by the
Oregon State University. Operates 9:30 AM to 7:30 PM EST Monday through Friday.
1-800-262-8200A toll-free service for non-professionals to provide non-emergency information on
safety and health effects for any chemical, including pesticides. Operates 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM
EST Monday through Friday.
Call for assistance in identifying and controlling nuisance wildlife. If on-site
assistance is required, the caller will be referred to a licensed wildlife control professional to
handle the complaint. The toll-free number is a cooperative program between the Maryland
Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal Damage Control
For assistance in contractual related matters.
50 Harry S. Truman Parkway, Annapolis, MD 21401