Public health is top of mind for a growing number of Americans, driving interest – and concerns – about mosquito-borne illnesses.

With West Nile, Zika and most recently Triple E (Eastern equine encephalitis) viruses making national headlines, Americans are becoming increasingly familiar with mosquito-borne diseases. Many PMPs attribute their customers’ growing demand for mosquito control services, at least in part, to this awareness, even though some believe consumers should be better informed.

“Here in Mobile County [Ala.], we have more than 50 species of mosquito and activity nine months of the year. People have a lot of concerns about mosquito-spread diseases,” says Michael Hayes of ProShield Termite & Pest Control. “But their concerns seem to be based more on fear stoked by what they’ve heard in the media than on actual information. I try to ease their anxiety by explaining that mosquitoes are more of a nuisance than anything else. Of course there’s always the possibility that they could be carrying viruses, so it’s better to be safe, but they shouldn’t be afraid all the time.”

Toby Crowe of Compass Pest Management agrees that fear often spurs customers to call for mosquito services. “When Zika was in the news, it did seem to drive mosquito business our way,” he says. “I make a point, though, of not using scare tactics in selling our services. People should be aware, but not afraid.”

Crowe adds that customers are often concerned for their pets’ safety from disease, as mosquitoes do transfer heartworms to dogs. “I understand their concerns completely; in fact, I treat my own property for the same reason,” he says.