This should be another good year for mosquito control. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of PMPs expected revenue from the service to increase in 2021, according to the 2021 PCT State of the Mosquito Control Market survey.
The average increase was projected to be 18.5 percent.
With more and more people moving to Houston from areas with less pest pressure, the future looks good for Providence Integrated Pest Management, said Kenneth Beason. “For those people, it’s a shock to the system to see some of the pests we have here, which includes mosquitoes,” he said.
Last year, the pandemic helped boost mosquito control for H & H Pest Control; this year, weather may be a factor. “We’ve had a really wet winter and a really wet spring, which is good,” said Allen Langley.
Kyle Varona of Fahey! Pest and Lawn Solutions urged peers to consider offering mosquito control as an add-on service if they don’t already. “It’s not that expensive to perform the service as far as the equipment and the material you have to use,” he said.
To prepare for the jump in business, 40 percent of PMPs said their companies planned to increase budgets for mosquito control application equipment in 2021.
Typically, customers buy mosquito control service because they don’t want to get “eaten alive” when they go outdoors to enjoy their patios and pools, said PMPs in follow-up interviews.
“My target customer sees pest control as a part of home ownership. They’re already of the mindset that this is something I need to get,” said Kenneth Beason of Providence Integrated Pest Management.
No surprise, PMPs were most successful marketing their mosquito control services to homeowners (53 percent) and families with young children (31 percent), found the 2021 PCT State of the Mosquito Control Market survey.
Beason said his mosquito clients have a higher household income, and at least one adult either works from home or is home with children full time. Usually, women are the decision-makers when it comes to this service, he said.
According to 64 percent of PMPs, word-of-mouth was the most effective type of advertising for mosquito control. Matthew Jennings of SafeYard Mosquito Services offers a discount for referrals; one of his customers holds backyard parties each year to show off the effectiveness of his mosquito misting system, which brings in new clients for Jennings.
Half of PMPs said they promoted their mosquito service online. Beason highlights his mosquito and general pest control service bundle on social media.
He also does neighborhood mailings, which he follows up with timely door-to-door sales. “That seems to be extremely effective,” he said. According to the PCT survey, 21 percent of PMPs had success with door hangers/cloverleafing.
Email marketing, cited by 23 percent of survey respondents, helped Fahey! Pest and Lawn Solutions convince a significant number of existing customers to add on mosquito control last year.
“It was probably the most successful email campaign that we could remember,” said Kyle Varona, who plans to conduct a similar campaign for new and existing customers this spring. “Not all of them realize you offer that service, so it’s making sure you’re getting the word out to them that you can help them with the protection,” he pointed out.
Other companies like Plunkett’s Pest Control rely on technicians to sell the service to clients.
Most pest management professionals (44 percent) said they begin marketing their mosquito control services to customers in March.
According to pest management professionals who took part in the 2021 PCT State of the Mosquito Control Market survey, companies typically controlled mosquitoes using targeted applications of mosquito adulticides (71 percent), larval control (62 percent) and fogging (56 percent).
In follow-up interviews, most said their employees use mist blowers to apply a synthetic product and often an insect growth regulator to yards about every three to four weeks during mosquito season.
“The key to successful mosquito programs is, per label, providing that complete coverage around the home where the mosquito’s going to rest or a mosquito’s going to look to breed,” said Trey Strickland of Waynes, which rotates products with different modes of action to ensure treatments remain effective. Waynes employees target shady, moist areas in the yard, such as heavy foliage and underneath decks and porches.
H & H Pest Control adds a “sticker” to its product mix to help materials adhere to vegetation. “We seem to get better control with that,” said Allen Langley.
Other PMPs use green products, such as botanical oils. Because these products have shorter residuals than conventional pesticides, they need to be applied more frequently.
“We’re primarily using 25(b) products simply because of the rules and regulations here in New York state,” said Gil Bloom, Standard Pest Management. He has found 25(b) products, considered minimum risk by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to be effective, but he also makes sure clients understand their limitations.
Matthew Jennings of SafeYard Mosquito Services has some customers in metro Atlanta who want organic mosquito control. “Certain situations demand that I cannot use chemical,” he pointed out. This includes properties with koi ponds and those near natural bodies of water.
Thoroughly documenting property conditions helps companies provide consistent control, even if a different technician steps in to do the work. “You’ve got to learn the yard and find out the problem areas so you can notate it on the account. In the long run, that helps, because you’ll have less retreats, which nobody wants,” said Jennings.
In 2020, the average callback rate for mosquito control was 6 percent.
In addition to recurring mosquito control programs, 87 percent of companies offered special event mosquito control services, such as for outdoor weddings and community events. This accounted for only 8.3 percent of mosquito work on average.
Last year, mosquito control revenue grew again at pest management companies, just not as much.
According to the 2021 PCT State of the Mosquito Control Market survey, which was sponsored by MGK and compiled by independent research firm Readex Research, 50 percent of pest management professionals said revenue from mosquito control services increased at their locations. The average reported increase was 19.7 percent.
Fewer PMPs said this business segment grew, however, compared to in years past. In 2019, 63 percent of PMPs reported a jump in year-over-year mosquito control revenue; 67 and 65 percent cited increases in 2018 and 2017, respectively.
Still, the service remained an important money-maker for the 73 percent of pest management companies that offer it.
“It’s a significant part of the business. It plays an integral part in our total home experience that we look to provide our customers,” explained Trey Strickland, technical leader at Waynes, an Anticimex company in Birmingham, Ala.
Mosquito control is a win-win for companies like Fahey! Pest and Lawn Solutions in Sarasota, Fla. “I think it’s a great added- value service to your customers and an added revenue stream to your company,” said Kyle Varona, the company’s general manager.
More customers had mosquito problems in 2020 and were motivated to act. According to the PCT survey, 59 percent of PMPs said requests for mosquito control increased somewhat or significantly last year compared to 2019.
The Asian tiger mosquito, a newcomer to New York City, generated more calls for Standard Pest Management. “It’s a daytime biter, and it’s a real quality of life mosquito that just annoys the heck out of people,” said Gil Bloom, president of the company.
In Houston, Psorophora ciliata, or the gallinipper mosquito, drove interest in mosquito control for Providence Integrated Pest Management. Mosquitoes are a perennial issue here, but last summer was the first time owner Kenneth Beason ran into this particular species.
“It’s enormous — almost the size of a wasp — extremely aggressive, and they bite very hard,” said Beason, who felt the pest’s wrath firsthand while working in the field.
Allen Langley, president of H & H Pest Control in Shelby, N.C., said mosquito-only companies developed the market. “Now, all of us are into it, and we make extra income off of it. It’s brought us a lot of new business,” he said.
Last year, mosquito control services on average generated 18.3 percent of total annual revenue at companies, or about $54,600.
By comparison, 56 percent of PMPs said they earned less than 5 percent of revenue from mosquito work in 2014, when PCT published its first Mosquito Control Market report. Back then, only 38 percent of companies offered mosquito control.