June 2017

Bloodsuckers Beware: With scientific precision, Mosquito Authority clears out nuisance bugs, giving you back your yard.

Author: Barry Kaufman | Photographer: Christine Hall

It’s an all-too common scenario here in the Lowcountry, one that has played out across countless backyard barbecues, outdoor parties and al fresco dinners. The weather is perfect, the sun is shining and the outdoors beckons. You and your family and friends step into this lush climate ready to enjoy the fruits of our gentle climate. The charcoals are hot, the cooler is full and the kiddie pool is sparkling with cool water.

And then, the bugs arrive. Swirling out of nowhere, this teeming black mass of bloodsucking parasites descends on your party, layering every human who dares step outside with stinging bites and itchy welts. Faced with such a brutal onslaught, you retreat inside, surrendering your summer day to the merciless horde. Overdramatic? Try telling that to your party guests who are now relieving you of your calamine lotion.

It’s a side-effect of our location that the perfect outdoor experience for humans happens to be the perfect feeding grounds for mosquitos. Fortunately, there is something you can do about it. You can call Mosquito Authority and end the threat for good.

“This is a unique situation down here,” said local Mosquito Authority franchisee Justin Watson. “We have good weather here on a regular basis, and mosquitos like to be outside when we do.”

Having grown up in the coastal area of the South, Watson had long thought of gnats and mosquitos as just another part of life. But when he too started surrendering time outside with his two boys, Haddon and Whit, to the stinging bites of mosquitos, he found himself looking for options.

What he found was Mosquito Authority, a national firm founded in 2004 in North Carolina that now has franchises all over the country. As luck would have it, Watson was able to secure the territory running from Savannah to Beaufort six years ago, and mosquitos in the 912 and 843 areas have been running scared ever since.

“I got into the business to change the way we use our backyard,” Watson said. “When I found out how effective it was and the response I got, it took off from there.”

Because of his love of spending time outdoors with his family, Watson doesn’t necessarily see himself as being in the mosquito killing business so much as being in the business of giving customers time and space.

“Our primary purpose is to give families their yard back,” he said. It not only gives residential clients that much more square footage, it also gives Watson’s restaurant clients a bug-free al fresco option. “We have eight months out of the year where we have really nice weather outside; why not get out and enjoy it?”

And while putting mosquitos on notice isn’t the end goal, it’s the service on offer. And Mosquito Authority executes that aspect of its service with clinical efficiency and scientific precision.

“We do what we call integrated pest management,” he said. “When we arrive on-site, the first step is to identify problem areas. A lot of time, it’s standing water or you just have a good environment for mosquitos.”
Anything from undrained flower pots to improperly treated swimming pools can be breeding grounds for mosquitos, and Mosquito Authority works holistically to remove those breeding grounds first before treating.

Following that, treatment is applied via chemical spray that assures safe treatment by staying away from pets or open spaces and focusing on vegetation and other areas where mosquitos live.

“They love the cool air underneath leaves,” Watson said, adding that treatment is done around the perimeter to create a barrier through which mosquitos can’t pass.

Of course, around here, standing water and lush vegetation have been in tremendous supply since Hurricane Matthew. “This is by no means a scientific guess, but I’d bet that [the mosquito population] increased tenfold,” Watson said. “A combination of tides and fresh water triggered the release of eggs that had been dormant for a long time… plus it wasn’t one neighbor who wasn’t emptying standing water out of their flower pots. You had every neighbor getting 22 inches of rain.”

Watson says that the mosquito population has decreased since the months immediately after the storm, but slow-draining water has still created ideal conditions for mosquitos. And despite those conditions, Mosquito Authority stands ready to buy their customers freedom to enjoy their backyards through their scientific approach to pest control.

“We’re one of the originals,” Watson said, citing the company’s access to the scientific resources of Bayer as one of its strongest attributes. The global brand aids Mosquito Authority in its quest to deliver a more efficient response to the airborne threat by providing various lab resources and information sharing. “We get a tremendous amount of knowledge and information from Bayer. The people we’re working with there are members of the Zika task force, and they’ve done research on West Nile, encephalitis and other vector problems.”

That last bit speaks to a greater issue surrounding mosquitos than their propensity for ruining picnics: their unique ability to serve as transmission vectors for disease.

“A lot of expecting mothers will call us just to have that extra level of insurance,” Watson said. “We treat their yard and take away that risk factor.”

Watson added that, while the primary transmitter of Zika, Aedes aegyptus, is present but not prevalent in our region, new studies are showing the potential for other species to carry Zika, and there is always the possibility that the Aedes aegypti population could eventually grow here.

And while the ever-present threat of disease-carrying mosquitos certainly gives one pause, for the most part, people call Mosquito Authority for the two things they aren’t making any more of: space and time. Space to walk freely in our own backyards without fear of mosquitos, and the time to enjoy the beauty of a Lowcountry summer.

To learn more, visit mosquito-authority.com or call (843) 295-8172

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