In fact, 83 percent of the respondents to the 2020 State of the Mosquito Market survey who have been managing mosquitoes for at least five years said that their mosquito control services are better or much better today than they were five years ago. Those improvements are reflected in the average callback rate for 2019 — 5.3 percent — a relatively low figure given mosquitoes are a pest to be managed but not eliminated. Notably, 23 percent of those who treat mosquitoes said they had no callbacks at all in 2019.
“The products and protocols are much better now than they were 10 years ago,” says Michael Hayes of ProShield Termite & Pest Control. “I’m particularly excited about the availability of more natural products, which I have been using on a more regular basis,” he said.
“Synthetic products mixed with an IGR and applied with a backpack mister are very successful in controlling mosquitoes in home environments where customers are open to them, but we’re breaking into the natural market by using a combination of two products — one that we apply with a backpack fogger and then a baiting product that attracts and kills,” he continues. “I go with the dual defense because I want to make sure we’re getting the strongest control possible.”
Hayes applies the natural products every two weeks as opposed to monthly applications of the synthetic plus IGR. Mike Russell of LifeSpace Pest Solutions applies green products every two weeks, too, while putting synthetics on a three-week rotation. “Only about 5 percent of our customers go with natural products,” he says. “A lot of them are interested in a green solution, but when they see it costs more, they tend to go with the conventional products.”
Russell adds that when he started offering mosquito work, he let each customer set the frequency of applications, but he found that gaining control of populations meant adhering to the three-week treatment schedule. “We’re definitely better now than when we first started out,” he says.Walking the Walk, Talking the Talk Products aside, what makes mosquito control efforts successful? PCOs cited knowing the pest and its behaviors, doing a thorough inspection, and encouraging customer involvement.
“Focus on the I’s: an IPM approach and a great inspection,” says Toby Crowe of Compass Pest Management. “Getting the inspection right means finding the breeding sites and anticipating which surfaces mosquitoes are most likely to rest on. Both of these depend on your knowledge and understanding of the species you’re up against. Once you’ve done this assessment, the control part becomes much easier.”
Pulling the customer in on the effort is essential as well, says Russell. “On the first visit, I walk around the property to identify conducive conditions, then I share that list with the customer — you need to dump the water out of the kids’ toys and establish a barrier between the woods and house, for example,” he says. “It’s hit or miss whether they actually help. Most people are interested in being part of the solution, but whether they remember to do what they’re supposed to do can be a different story.”
Dave Bonett of Capitol Exterminating System has a creative way of helping customers understand how vital their participation in the process is. “I’ve found that people don’t have much interest in hearing a long explanation about the mosquito life cycle,” he explains. “So instead, I ask them, ‘If I were a painter but you refused to move the pictures off the wall, how good of a good paint job do you think you’ll get?’ We give them a list of hints and tell them if they want to get the best bang for their buck, they need to act on those hints. We get pretty good engagement this way. Probably 75 percent do what we ask.”