By Jim Donovan

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If you find a few ants marching along the wall in your kitchen, it may be time to call an exterminator.  It can also mean that making a few changes in your environment will likely take care of an insect or rodent problem.  In this week’s Angie’s List report, Jim Donovan looks at some things you can do to keep your home pest free.

When critters come crawling many people attempt to tackle the problem themselves.

“But if you see that you have a persistent issue it’s probably time to call in the expert. You can call a pest control company that can come in and they have a lot of different projects they can use to take care of the situation,” said Angie’s List founder, Angie Hicks.

And different problems require different solutions.  So make sure the company you hire is familiar with your pest problem.

“For example, if you have termites in your house you want a pest management company that understands how to get rid of those termites,” said Hicks.

Also, ask about the methods they’ll be using to rid your home of pests.

“One thing consumers need to remember is not all methods are going to be good for children or for pets in your home so be sure to ask questions whether you are doing it yourself or hiring a professional,” said Hicks.

One of the best ways to prevent them from ever getting inside your home is to get rid of their favorite hiding places.

“Keep your lawn mowed well and avoid standing water and go light on mulch around your house because that mulch can be a great place for pests to live,” said Hicks.

And keep areas around your home as dry as possible.

“I can’t stress that enough, keep the water away from your house. Insects need a sufficient amount of moisture to survive and if you keep the water away, your tree limbs off the roof and keep your firewood piles away from the house and off the ground that really helps out considerably,” said pest control contractor, Daniel Packard.

More from Angie:

Home Pest Prevention

Seal any cracks in walls or window and door casings and repair screens. Address leaks around sinks or plumbing. Moisture draws insects and rodents.

Keep tree branches trimmed and avoid placing mulch close to the home foundation. Not doing so invites termites (who love moisture) and other insects to seek cracks and crevices.

Clean gutters and downspouts. Don’t neglect outdoor fountains. Stagnant water and moist clogs in guttering draws insects.

Avoid piled up trash and recycle bins. These are smorgasbords for mice, ants and spiders.

Don’t stack wood near the house. Mice and spiders will ride into the house with the kindling.

Avoid leaving pet food unattended outside, as it will draw mice and raccoons, ants and other insects.

Don’t leave pet food unattended inside the house, either. Store dog food in a sealed plastic container.

Vacuum and sweep floors and wipe kitchen counters frequently. When mice or ants can’t find anything to feast on, they often don’t stick around.

It’s also important to remember that weather can influence the behavior of certain pests. Rodents are more likely to enter the home in the winter, while bugs and insects will tend to visit during the warmer months.

Even though there are precautions you can take to help repel pests, it may be necessary to have a professional check your home, especially if you live in a wooded area or by water.A qualified exterminator can help prevent pests from entering your home by spraying the inside of your home and the outside perimeter on a regular basis.

Hiring an pest control company

It’s better to preemptively hire an exterminator for regular inspections than it is to wait until there’s a problem. Unfortunately, pests don’t give warning in anticipation of a strike, so you never know when you will need the assistance of an exterminator.

In many states and jurisdictions, exterminators must be licensed. Check with your state pesticide agency to find out if this applies to your area. The exterminator may also be required to a hold a license to use certain pesticides or chemicals. Ask to see the exterminator’s license before making a hiring decision.

The exterminator should be able to design a specific plan to identify the types of pests that need to be controlled, the extent of the infestation, the best removal method and steps to lower the risk of future infestations.

Typically, one-time treatments cost between $130 and $150. For ongoing service, expect to pay between $80 and $110 for quarterly treatments, or $40 to $60 for monthly treatments.

You may prefer to hire an exterminator who is willing to use eco-friendly or cruelty-free eradication methods. Many professional exterminators will be happy to offer these options upon request.