California PMPs: Know your licensed limits


September 12, 2017

In California, the Laws and Regulations Relating to the Practice of Structural Pest Control defines a structural pest as being one that is in, on or invading a structure. Roof rats damaging oranges in a tree about 100 ft. away from a building does not fit this description. Rather, this situation falls under a Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) Qualified Applicator License in either Category A, which is Residential, Industrial and Institutional Pest Control, or Category B, which is Landscape Maintenance. Refer to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation for clarification of the activities in which these categories allow a licensee to engage.

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Whenever I speak at seminars on this subject, there are always a few attendees who ask, “I’m not using pesticides. I’m just using traps. I am exempt, right?” Here is how this question is addressed in the rules: “This category allows you to apply or supervise the application of restricted and general-use pesticides, substances, methods, or devices to control pests.” The emphasis here is mine; traps are “devices to control pests.”

The reverse side of the wallet-sized Qualified Applicator License states: “This License does not authorize any person to engage for hire in the Business of pest control. A DPR Pest Control Business License is required in addition to this Qualified Applicator License to engage in the Business of Pest Control for hire.”

Once a business license is procured at the state level, the holder of a Qualified Applicator License must register that license with the county Agriculture Commissioner in which he or she intends to conduct business. Once that registration is complete, the license holder is then required by law to file monthly pesticide use reports with the appropriate county or counties.

Pest management for hire as a business is highly regulated in California — among other states — and ignorance of the law is no excuse.


About the Author

Dr. Hanif Gulmahamad, BCE, PCA is an urban and structural entomologist and consultant based in Ontario, Calif. He can be reached at

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