By BECKY GILLETTE
The Madison County Chamber of Commerce is planning a ribbon cutting at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 27 at the chamber office for new member Bradley Downey, owner of the Mosquito Squad of Greater Jackson and Vicksburg. While Downey’s home office in in Vicksburg, he provides services throughout the Jackson metro area, and connecting with the Madison County Chamber of Commerce is good for business.
“I believe it is important,” Downey said. “The chamber does a good job getting our name out there. There is also a certain amount of credibility to the company when you put yourself out like that, although you also need to have some credentials to back you up. We are also members of the Ridgeland and Clinton Chambers of Commerce.”
Downey advertises that he can keep your yard free of mosquitoes for three weeks after treatment.
But isn’t that just part of living in Mississippi? You are going to have a lot of bugs when you go outdoors.
“That is nonsense,” Downey said. “This is 2016. We have air conditioners. You don’t have to put up with 100-degree heat. You don’t have to put up with bugs either.”
Mosquito Squad is a national franchise in business for more than ten years with more than 200 locations across the U.S. Downey opened his Mosquito Squad business about a year ago, and said it has been very helpful to be part of the franchise.
“They provide a lot of marketing resources, and it is just someone to lean on when you have questions and concerns,” he said. “ If you have never done this type of business before, it is really nice to have somebody to talk to who knows exactly what you are trying to do, and has done it before.”
To provide pest control services in Mississippi requires training and a license. Downey also has that under his belt.
While they can service any property, it is primarily residential accounts. Downey said they use a combination of things to control mosquitoes. They apply a larvicide granule on any standing water to kill mosquitoes in their larval stage before they have hatched, and a two-part liquid spray for the adult mosquitoes.
“It is hard to treat them only with a larvicide,” Downey said. “If the larvicide washes out after a rain, you don’t have anything to back that up. That is what the municipalities are doing, treating water with larvicide. But people still call us. Mosquitoes can breed in less than a capful of water, so it is hard to get larvicide everywhere it is needed. That is why we have to treat both the larvae and adults.”
There is great concern across the world about the Zika virus transmitted by mosquitoes, which is suspected of causing babies of some infected mothers to have microcephaly, a birth defect in which a baby’s head is smaller than normal. Downey said he hasn’t had a lot of calls from customers concerned about the Zika virus.
“It is not a big threat in Mississippi right now,” he said. “The type of mosquitoes that carry the virus, Aedes aegypti, are not present in Mississippi, according to the health department. The bigger deal in Mississippi is West Nile virus and the types of encephalitis out there. But the main concern of most of my customers is just the general annoyance. The overwhelming majority of customers are aware of the health concerns, but primarily just want to be able to be in their yards without getting bitten. Spraying also protects the family pets from heartworms transmitting by mosquitoes.”
Downey also has options for people who want natural controls from a product made of essential oils, which works differently to prevent mosquitoes than their traditional barrier treatment.
“Our traditional mosquito spray eliminates mosquitoes on contact, while our natural organic mosquito organic spray repels the mosquitoes with its smell,” Downey said. “When we first apply the all-natural treatment to your yard, you will notice a botanical fragrance. However, within a few hours after application, you will not be able to notice the smell. Mosquitoes have a very acute sense of smell, so they will still be able to smell the fragrance, keeping them away.”
He said people can expect as much as a 75 percent decrease in the population of mosquitoes on their property after the application of the all-natural spray, whereas the traditional spray can eliminate up to 90 percent of all mosquitoes.
Downey said the natural product lasts only two weeks instead of three. But they like to have this option for people who refer natural remedies.
There have been concerns in recent years about the declines in the number of pollinator insects such as bees, moths and butterflies. Pollinators are necessary for fertilization of 75 percent of flowering plants and 35 percent of the world’s food supply. Recently millions of bees killed in Summerville, S.C., after aerial spraying of a pesticide called Naled intended to kill mosquitoes.
Downey said they take care to avoid spraying flowers and bushes where the bees are.
“There is a very small risk of spraying the bees or butterflies,” he said.
The cost of the treatment depends on the size of the lot treated, but more than that goes into it. It depends on what kind of things you have in your yard that need to be treated.
“We have software on the computer, and can look at property online and determine exactly what we need to do,” he said.
One of the most valuable marketing tools has been the Internet. Downey said he had a crash course in online marketing this year.
“It was a very big learning curve, but it has been good,” he said. “I’m excited about the future.”
Downey also treats for ticks, fleas, spiders, gnats and other small insects.
For more information, see the website for the business is http://jackson-vicksburg.mosquitosquad.com/ or call 601-501-7273, extension 101.
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