In 2018, more than 1,900 cases of West Nile Virus have been reported across the country. Michigan had eight reported cases of West Nile Virus, one of which resulted in death.
Consumer’s growing concern for protection against vector-borne diseases in states like Michigan presents an opportunity for expansion for outdoor pest control company, Mosquito Joe. The brand currently has four franchisees operating in Michigan, most of which are concentrated in the southern half of the state, leaving plenty of territory availability in the north.
“Michigan is surrounded by large bodies of water and has more than 10,000 lakes spread across the state, so all of this moisture is creating a perfect climate for mosquitoes. It’s a serious problem in an area where people love spending time outdoors,” said Mosquito Joe President Lou Schager. “We’re looking to expand into markets north and east of Grand Rapids, like Traverse City, Flint and Petoskey where the mosquito population is most severe, to help combat the growing problem.”
A major contributor to this problem is the weather. The spring and summer seasons were warmer and wetter than usual which extended the length of the mosquito season and lead to a larger mosquito population. Due to increased rainfall, pools of standing water created breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
With cooler temperatures approaching, mosquitoes might be out of sight and out of mind for many customers. Although the Great Lake State has temperatures that can dip well below freezing in the winter months, Schager says mosquito eggs can survive and hatch in the spring.
“While mosquitoes are active when the temperature is consistently above 50 degrees, they can lay hundreds of eggs before going dormant during the winter months,” according to Schager. “If homeowners aren’t properly taking care of their yards in the off-season, they’re going to have a rough spring.”
Ensuring there is no standing water around the property for remaining mosquitoes to breed and continuing barrier treatments into fall to eliminate mosquito eggs are the best ways homeowners can prepare for an itch-free spring.
In Michigan, there are numerous Mosquito Joe owners who can optimize customer’s yards for the off-season. Craig Comer pioneered the first Mosquito Joe location in Michigan in 2013 and currently runs four territories in the southeastern part of the state. Comer says since opening his operation, the company has seen rapid growth, largely due to customers sharing their experiences and referring the service.
“During the 2014 and 2015 seasons, we were getting a lot of requests for our services because people were choosing to spend time at home, barbequing and camping, rather than traveling. They asked us to treat their yards so they could enjoy it rather than spend the entire summer swatting mosquitoes,” Comer said. “The next season, we saw an uptick in referrals because people were spreading the word.”
According to Comer, the market has changed since opening his business five years ago. Competition has grown because the need for the service has increased. Comer indicates that the need for mosquito control is spreading, thus presenting an opportunity.
“People prefer to know that their family and friends are protected, and we provide them with that peace of mind,” said Comer. “We’re making a positive impact in our community and hope to do in even more communities across the state in the future.”
And while mosquito-borne illnesses like West Nile virus continues to be a topic of conversation in Michigan, Schager hopes to chip away at the problem.
“We’ve identified the growth potential; the next step is finding qualified operators like Craig who want to play a role in reducing the mosquito problem in Michigan and across the nation.”