Health Care, Small Business & Startups, and Sustainability

Mosquito prevention firm hopes to take sting out of spring

West Michigan owners plan to be up and running by May 1.

April 8, 2016
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Mosquitoes
Applicators use a repellant that is sprayed on bushes and ivy and is harmless to gardens, bees and pets. Courtesy Mosquito Joe

It’s springtime in Michigan, which means everyone’s least favorite bloodsucking insects are back.

Just the mention of mosquitoes may be enough to put that high-pitch buzz in people’s ears and make them think about fogging their backyards. And that’s exactly how Greg VanDeusen and Tom Rosenhagen, the co-owners of a new mosquito prevention franchise, plan to make money this summer.

VanDeusen and Rosenhagen are in the process of opening a local franchise of Mosquito Joe, a Virginia-based company that offers both pesticide and repellent to keep America’s least favorite bugs at bay.

There are currently three Mosquito Joe locations in Michigan, one in Charlotte and two on the east side of the state. The fourth location will be the first in West Michigan, VanDeusen said, adding he and his partner have been planning the operation for the past year.

Mosquito Joe of West Michigan will have a small office at 8051 Moorsbridge Road in Portage, although its call van will be based in a residential garage in Wyoming, VanDeusen said. The franchise will employ up to four part-time drivers, but by the end of the summer, he’d like to have two vans and eight part-time employees.

Mosquito Joe of West Michigan will serve the Greater Grand Rapids area and all the way to the lakeshore, he said. The partners plan to be up and running May 1.

“The tagline is ‘outside is fun again.’ We go out and essentially create a barrier around (a client’s) property to prevent mosquitoes from getting into their property. The good thing about mosquitoes is they’re not strong fliers. They’re bush hoppers,” VanDeusen said.

“We have like steel blowers that mix the chemical right there at the residence. We walk the area with the homeowner and spray where they want.”

VanDeusen said the “love potions” they use for mosquitoes include a pesticide that is sprayed on bushes and ivy and then left alone for about 30 minutes, and a repellant that is harmless to vegetables and gardens and will not hurt bees, butterflies or pets. The pesticide product has an 80 to 90 percent kill ratio, he said.

“If they land on the pesticide, they’re actually killed. If they’re in the areas (where) the repellent (is sprayed), their sensors are screwed up so they can’t tell where the CO2 is coming from,” he said, explaining that carbon dioxide is what attracts mosquitoes to people. 

The most common problem in the mosquito prevention industry is open water, he said. West Michigan, because of its many lakes, ponds and rivers, has to deal with a large amount of mosquitoes for a Midwest state, VanDeusen said.

“I live in West Michigan and I’m plagued by mosquitoes every night. … There’s a lot of water, lots of bodies of water and lots of residences around the water,” he said.

“Mosquitoes breed in water. Even if you have any standing water, even as small as a bottle cap, that’s where they’re having the love fest. Empty out the birdbath every other day. If you have toys or spare tires that are accumulating water, you’ve got to take care of that. That’s where they’re breeding.”

Mosquito prevention is also an important health issue. Not only do insects like mosquitoes carry diseases such as West Nile, but also others, as VanDeusen pointed out.

“Mosquitoes transmit a lot of diseases, including things for dogs like heartworm,” he said.

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