The demand for mosquito control has increased in recent years, and the setup as spring approaches is causing optimism among many service providers. “I base my sales forecasts on historical data, as well as an understanding of how mosquito populations breed,” says Jim Laramee, NaturaLawn of America franchisee and Mosquito Ranger in North Attleboro, Mass. “The last three years have been our biggest years of growth ever. I think people have been sitting around longer and reading their direct mail. I think that’s helped us and the whole mosquito industry because of more and more consumers now realize that this is a real industry. Instead of spending money on vacation, a lot of people are spending more money at home. I don’t think that will change this year. “
In New England, Laramee says last year’s weather could also play a role in fueling demand this season.
“We had a lot of mosquito activity here last year and more rain than we’ve had in probably 30 years,” Laramee says. “When you factor in those high water tables with the heat and humidity that we have, it’s created the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.”
“Across the United States, most regions experienced slightly above average to above average threat levels last year,” says David Price, associate board certified entomologist and technical director of Mosquito Joe. “Increased rainfall, combined with high temperatures, produced warmer and more humid climates than normal. We also saw multiple storm and hurricane systems moving across the United States, causing flooding and leaving behind them a huge amount of standing water – the perfect environment for high levels of reproduction.
Looking ahead to this season, Price predicts moderate spring mosquito pressure, referring to the following spring weather forecast:
• Northeast — normal precipitation, above average temperatures
• South East — below average precipitation, above average temperatures
• Central — above-average precipitation, above-average temperatures
• South West — below average precipitation, above average temperatures
• North West — above average precipitation, normal temperatures
As for the summer, Price predicts above-average temperatures and normal precipitation for most of the country, except for the lower northeast where heavier precipitation is expected in an area extending to to Florida and Illinois.
“Overall high heat and average rainfall will result in moderate mosquito pressure this summer, except for areas with above average rainfall that will experience higher pressure,” Price said.
New species fate murky
Rick Yates, a NaturaLawn and Mosquito Ranger franchisee in Wilmington, Del., says the weather in the mid-Atlantic region has been consistently warmer and wetter for the past five to 10 years. Based on this trend, he expects mosquito levels to continue to rise in his market. There’s one species in particular that has been making a lot of noise in the mid-Atlantic region.
“We have seen a dramatic increase in the population of Asian tiger mosquitoes (Aedes albopictus) over the past five years,” Yates says. “It is an aggressive diurnal feeder, which increases the likelihood of finding and feeding on humans.”
Price says there are two other invasive species that have become established in the United States. These mosquitoes have adopted behaviors similar to container breeders typically found in backyards.
“One species, Aedes scapularis, is now established in Florida and has the ability to spread south according to a study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology by Lawrence Reeves, Ph.D. et al,” Price says.
“This species can spread yellow fever, Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus and other human pathogens. The other invasive species, Aedes notoscriptus, was recently introduced to southern California and has quickly become well established. It has the potential to spread globally, according to another study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology by Marco Metzger.
“Currently, this species has not been as well studied as its cousins, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, because it was not associated with diseases like West Nile virus,” Price says. “However, it has been associated with Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses in Australia, as well as canine heartworm in California.”
The potential for mosquitoes to spread disease, or even just become a nuisance, is all some mosquito control professionals need when selling their services.
“More and more people are realizing that mosquito control services are even an option,” says Brandon Sheppard, sub-franchisor and franchisee of Weed Man and Mosquito Hero in the Southeast. “When you combine that with certain economic factors, such as many households currently having more disposable income, more of the population becomes potential new customers.”
With COVID transmission rates still high and people continuing to spend more time at home, the recipe is in for a strong mosquito control season this year.
“Our typical mosquito customer is at the high end of the lawn care market,” says Sheppard. “Not only are they spending more time at home, but they are also more concerned about their health.
“With the ongoing pandemic, the best way for people to congregate with minimal risk is outdoors. Mosquito control offers an effective way for people to enjoy their property more, but also better protect the health of their family and pets.
On the topic of health, Sheppard says the mosquito control industry has also received a boost from the veterinary industry. “Veterinary professionals have done an excellent job of establishing the link between mosquitoes and canine heartworm,” says Sheppard. “It doesn’t take the average homeowner long to think, ‘If mosquitoes can transmit this to my pets, what could they do to me?'”
According to Sheppard, the ideal mosquito control client wants to work with a professional. They want someone who is properly trained and licensed, but also very measured in how they make treatment choices. As Sheppard explains, mosquito treatment is about surgical precision as opposed to blanket application.
“Mosquitoes are bad flyers,” Sheppard says. “They also have very soft bodies, so they can’t handle areas with a lot of wind or sun. Mosquitoes also want to roost in areas close to where they are going to feed.
“It helps identify areas of a property that need to be treated. For example, mosquitoes are going to be under porches and patios, under plant leaves, and on low, shady walls. This allows our applicators to target mosquitoes while protecting pollinators because pollinators go to flowers. Mosquito repellent programs are very prescriptive and create an opportunity to showcase the professionalism of your business.
Laramee discovered that the potential market for mosquito control is larger than that for lawn care.
“Lawn care is more of a luxury item whereas mosquito control is a necessity,” says Laramee. “Especially with people staying at home these days, having foyer parties and the kids playing on the Slip ‘N Slide, I think a variety of people are going to see the value of hiring a mosquito service. So for lawn care, we like to target a certain level of income and home value. For mosquito control, everyone is a prospect.
As the mosquito control market has grown, so have the number of service providers.
“It’s become an extremely competitive service,” says Yates. “When we started over 15 years ago, we were the only company in Delaware licensed to treat mosquitoes. Today, dozens of companies offer this service. But thanks to this, one hurdle we no longer have to deal with is consumer awareness and skepticism. »