Extension Ag Update
May/June 2003
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Searching for a Pesticide Applicator

Bruce E. Paulsrud, Extension Specialist, Urbana, 217-244-9646, paulsrud@uiuc.edu

In most cases, it's not too difficult to find a commercial (for-hire) pesticide applicator; you either talk to a neighbor or colleague, or check the Yellow Pages. However, when it comes to controlling pond weeds or killing tree roots in a sewer line, finding a licensed commercial applicator may not be so easy. That is, until now.

Kelly Registration Systems has worked with individual state departments of agriculture to provide pesticide applicator license information and pesticide-registration specifics via the Internet. Illinois-specific information can be found on the Illinois Department of Agriculture's (IDOA) Web site via the following URL: http://www.kellysolutions.com/il/.

For example, in four easy steps, you can find all nearby applicators that are licensed to apply pesticides to a specific site (category):

  1. Click on "Pesticide Applicator Search."
  2. Click on "Search for an Applicator in your City, County, Zip."
  3. Enter the city, zip code, or county of interest.
  4. Then choose the license category and applicator type (see the following discussion).

The results page lists all individuals who meet your search criteria. Simply click on a person's name to see the detailed license and contact information.

License Types

Private Applicator License: Required for people applying restricted-use pesticides to produce an agricultural commodity on property they own or control. Private Applicators must pass the grain fumigation exam to fumigate their own grain bins. The license does not allow applications "for hire." License and exam(s) are valid for 3 years ($15 fee).

Pesticide Dealer License: An individual selling restricted-use pesticides must be licensed. Also, mandatory records must be kept for 2 years. Commercial Applicators and Structural Pest Control Operators are exempt from the test and fee but must register as dealers. The exam is valid for 3 years if no lapse occurs in annual ($100-fee) licensure.

All Other Licenses

Commercial Applicator and Operator Licenses: Required for individuals who purchase, use, or supervise the use of pesticides classified for general or restricted use for hire. Exam(s) are valid for 3 years if no lapse occurs in annual ($45 fee for applicators, $30 fee for operators) licensure.

Commercial Not-for-Hire Applicator and Operator Licenses: Required for individuals who use or supervise the use of pesticides classified for general or restricted use for any purpose on property of an employer when such activity is a requirement of the terms of employment and the application is limited to property under the control of the employer. This type of license does not allow applications "for hire." Exam(s) are valid for 3 years if no lapse occurs in annual (no fees) licensure.

Public Applicator and Operator Licenses: Required for individuals who use or supervise the use of pesticides classified for general or restricted use as an employee of a state agency, municipality, or other duly constituted governmental agency or unit. This type of license does not allow applications "for hire." Exam(s) are valid for 3 years if no lapse occurs in annual (no fees) licensure.

Applicator vs. Operator?

An applicator is the person(s) in an organization who has responsibility for pesticide purchasing, storage, handling, and use; usually an owner, a supervisor, or a foreman. Each organization must have at least one person licensed as an applicator at each facility location. The applicator's license categories dictate the areas in which a company and his/her operators may legally apply pesticides.

An operator is a person who uses pesticides at the job site; his/her work is tied directly to the applicator's license. The operator can apply pesticides only under direct supervision of the applicator and only to areas covered by the applicator's license. Supervision and direction of operators by an applicator means that the applicator must be in daily contact with the operators. If the applicator is out of town or not available, the operator may not legally apply pesticides.

What's a Category?

In Illinois, there are 17 licensure categories. Each category is designed for pesticide use requiring specific professional knowledge. An applicator who needs to apply pesticides to a range of sites needs multiple categories on his/her license.

Aquatic pest control: Pesticide use for weed control in standing or running water.
Demonstration and research: Pesticide use during research or the teaching of pesticide and equipment use.
Field crop pest control: Pesticide use in corn, soybeans, small grains, forages, grasslands, etc.
Forest pest control: Pesticide use in forests, forest nurseries, and forest seed-producing areas.
Fruit crop pest control: Pesticide use in fruit and nut crops.
Grain facility pest control: Pesticide use in and around grain elevators or similar grain-holding facilities, conveyances, and transportation facilities. NOTE: Individuals who wish to control grain-storage pests commercially (for hire) are licensed under the Structural Pest Control Act, which is administered by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). Thus, to find a commercial grain fumigation applicator, call IDPH, (217) 782-5830.
Livestock pest control: Pesticides applied to livestock or livestock barns.
Mosquito control: Insecticides applied to control mosquitoes.
Ornamental pest control: Pesticide use on trees, shrubs, and ornamental plantings.
Plant-management pest control: Pesticide use on portable plants used for interior landscaping and environmental enhancement.
Regulatory pest control: For government employees involved in the control of regulated pests with pesticides.
Rights-of-way pest control: Chemical weed and other pest control on noncrop sites, such as parking lots, along roads, in access rights-of-way, and in fence lines.
Sewer line root control: Chemical control of roots in sewer lines.
Seed treatment: Pesticide use on seeds.
Soil fumigation: Pesticide use for soil fumigation.
Turf pest control: Pesticide use on turf areas and sod farms.
Vegetable crop pest control: Pesticide use in vegetable crops.
GS and AGS: These are not really categories. GS indicates General Standards, a core exam that both applicators and operators must pass. AGS indicates Aerial General Standards and, if selected, provides a list of licensed aerial applicators and the actual categories in which they are licensed.

Expiration Dates

In Illinois, remember that each exam is good for 3 years and that all but Private Applicator licenses expire at the end of each calendar year. So, if you're a Private Applicator, the listed expiration date indicates when your license expires and when you'll need to retake the exam. For everyone else, realize that the listed expiration dates indicate license renewal, not necessarily reexamination. Applicators and operators should pay close attention to the notification letter the IDOA sends each November; it indicates the need for license renewal or reexamination.