Mosquito Control in Massachusetts (Podcast)

In this podcast, the team from Safer Nature talks about mosquito control methods in Massachusetts. They explain where mosquitoes breed and how to eliminate them. They also discuss the differences between organic and traditional chemical sprays.

John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher, and I’m here today with Ryan Potts, founder and owner of Safer Nature Pest Control, and Matt Raftery, manager of Operations, specializing in traditional and organic pest control services in Massachusetts. Today, our topic is mosquito control in Massachusetts. Welcome, Ryan and Matt.

Ryan Potts: Thank you, John. Thank you for having us.

Matt Raftery: Thanks for having us, John.

Dangers of Mosquitos

John: Yeah, so are mosquitoes just kind of an irritating pest or can they actually be dangerous?

Ryan: Well, they are an irritating pests, but yes they are, some of them can carry vector borne diseases, which means they’ve picked up a disease from feeding on an animal, a host animal, and they can, depending on what that pathogen is, they can spread it to us.

John: And what are some of the diseases that are carried by mosquitoes, especially here in Massachusetts?

Ryan: Okay, well, we’re very lucky here in Massachusetts. We don’t have malaria, but there are some that are pretty close that we’ve had scares before. The biggest two would be Triple E, which is Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Just a few years back, there were a couple fatalities in Massachusetts. It’s rare and it’s not widespread, but it’s alarming enough to, and I’m not a pathologist here, but if you get infected with that, there’s a survival rate of, maybe it’s 50/50. So it’s very dangerous, very concerning. West Nile is another nasty one that it’s not widespread, but it is a concern. So yes.

Does Spraying Help Eliminate Mosquitos?

John: So does mosquito spraying work in terms of eliminating mosquitoes? I mean that you’re spraying outside and you’re obviously not going to be able to kill every mosquito that’s out there, but maybe describe how that mosquito spraying works in its effectiveness.

Ryan: Right. Well, mosquitoes, they love moisture and dampness, and that’s usually going to be in tall grasses to everything from a backyard meadow to woodline and woods. And certain trees are better at conserving moisture. Certainly, a lot of the coniferous type trees, whether it be a yew, a spruce, arborvitaes, or anything that really has a good canopy. They need water to reproduce.

Their eggs are laid in water, in standing water, so anything with wetlands or nearby water source, and that could even be someone left their wheelbarrow out or a bucket or a soda can or a clogged gutter, they don’t need much. They can, as you’ve heard, even a thimbleful, but obviously the more water they have access to, the more a mosquito population can reproduce.

Organic Mosquito Control Methods

John: And do you have organic mosquito control methods and why might I want to use those over maybe traditional chemicals?

Ryan: Absolutely. We have organic products available and they are highly effective. They generally break down a little quicker than the traditional methods, so we need to apply them usually more frequently. A lot of times with our traditional chemicals, we’re on a three-week cycle when mosquito season arrives, whereas if you wanted to go with the organic route, it’s still effective and we just need to apply it every two weeks, generally.

There are some scenarios where a customer would want the most effective treatment, which generally is the traditional chemical, but due to laws and safety and environmental impact, if you are anywhere near a water source, we have to treat organically and not use traditional pesticides.

John: If you’re near wetlands or a little stream or something like that?

Ryan: Wetlands, stream, pond or anything like that, even a vernal pool, that’s all a no spray zone.

Organic Vs. Traditional Chemicals for Mosquito Control

John: Do organic chemicals work just as well as traditional chemicals in terms of ridding mosquitoes?

Ryan: We find they do, if they’re applied properly at the right rate. A lot of times people don’t have much faith in them because they do break down a little quicker than the traditional chemicals. But that’s why we come and a lot of times we’re seeing that we’re a little more unique where we’ll customize the schedule where other larger companies, they might just come monthly or even on a three-week cycle. And you’re going to have significant breakthrough if you’re using organic products and you’re not coming frequently enough. But generally, I mean, we’ve had a lot of high-pressure properties and places with standing water and things like that where we have to use organic materials, and it’s very effective.

John: And what’s the schedule that you go on then is do you come every couple of weeks or something like that?

Ryan: We would come every two weeks if you’re wanting organic treatment, whereas we could do it every three if you’re on the traditional program.

Tips for Controlling Mosquito Populations

John: Do you have any tips for homeowners in terms of just things that we can do ourselves around the house to try to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and to try to keep the population down a little bit?

Ryan: There’s certain things that homeowners can do on their own. Keep your gutters clean. Don’t leave standing water around. A lot of times I’ve even seen, with chlorinated pools, where they cannot reproduce with a chlorinated pool, but in early spraying while people still have their pool covers on, there’s a good amount of freshwater that can build up on top of that. I’ve seen that. Just anything that can hold rainwater, if it sits too long, mosquitoes will be able to breed.

Matt: Kids toys.

Ryan: Kids’ toys, certainly kitty pools.

Matt: Wheelbarrows, even potted plants that are sitting around. Anything like that. What else do we see there?

John: If you leave buckets outside or any place where the rain could just gather and then just sit there.

Ryan: Yup. And a lot of times the clogged gutters, people don’t have leaf guards or they’re not looking at their gutters, it’s a big one as well.

John: Right.

Matt: And also with koi ponds, if people don’t have the filter constantly running, moving that water around, that’s a huge problem.

Ryan: That’s a huge one.

John: Okay. Yeah. So water features in the backyard and things like that.

Ryan: Water features.

John: You have to make sure that water’s constantly being cycled and is moving.

Importance of Treating the Foliage for Mosquito Control

Ryan: Yes. And if you live near the ocean, In full salt water, no. But in brackish water, there’s a few species that can propagate. So you see them depending on the level of salinity they can, in certain brackish areas. And of course there’s nothing. I mean, if you live next to a pond, the pressure is going to be really high, and there’s not much you can do about the breeding in a large body of water. You just need to protect your property. And with both traditional or organic materials we use, it’s key that we treat thoroughly all of the foliage.

That’s the name of the game. If you live in an area where you don’t have much foliage, it’s going to be a lot harder for us to eliminate mosquitoes. If you’re subject to fly over from, say, a neighbor, we need to be able to treat what’s on your property, where the most harborage would be, which is during daylight hours, especially in the summertime, they want to stay out of the heat. They want to stay cool and moist, and then they come out usually at dusk, and then all through the night until the sun comes up. So it’s key that we treat all the surrounding foliage.

John: Okay. And does that actually, if my neighbors have mosquitoes or they have a little pool or something like that where the mosquitoes are breeding, but then you’ve sprayed around the bushes that are surrounding my yard, does that help to prevent the mosquitoes from sort of coming through that foliage and into my yard?

Ryan: Yeah, if they interact with the material that’s on the foliage, they’re going to die. That’s what it’s designed to do.

John: Okay.

Ryan: Whether that would significantly knock down your neighbor’s population, I think that unless they’re treating, the population’s going to be there, trying to bounce back. But as long as your yard is covered, and it’s really, we have testimonials from so many customers, it’s made a, there’s people, they have a pool. People want to spend time in the summertime at their home and on their property, and there’s been some scenarios where they just can’t go outside because they’re being eaten alive.

They’ll try citronella candles or you see the cans of Off. A lot of times it’s totally worth it to get the sprays. We’re licensed, we’re trained on how to do it. We’re not going to poison the environment. We follow every regulation, every law, and it’s really a great service that keeps people’s yards pests free, and the mosquitoes are one of the biggest problems in the summertime.

Contact Safer Nature for Help With Mosquitos

John: All right. Well, that’s really great information. Thanks again for speaking with me today.

Ryan: Well, thanks again, John.

John: And for more information, you can visit the Safer Nature website at safernature.coma> or call 978/325-1325.