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A new weapon in the war against mosquitoes

Feb 15, 2015 11:54PM ● Published by Kerigan Butt

Spring is here, and despite the snow-packed winter we've just endured, experts are warning that this is going to be a bad year for seasonal allergies, as well as another year of battling the mosquitoes that love Delaware's marshy coastline.

While there are several spraying programs sponsored by state and county government agencies, there are always places in the state where being outside at dusk means being a meal for mosquitoes.

Stepping onto the front line in the war with insects is a brand new business, Mosquito Joe, which opened for business on May 1. Owners Ken Alkire and Stephanie Nunziato are married and based in Newark, and their entry into the business came from their frustration with the pests of summer.

"We were on vacation after Ken sold his business, and I was being eaten alive by mosquitoes," Nunziato said. "Ken came across an article about Mosquito Joe in Kiplinger Magazine and brought it to me. He somewhat jokingly said this could be our next business. I contacted the company while still on vacation."

"We always knew we would open another business, but I never dreamed I would buy a franchise," Alkire said."The more we learned about Mosquito Joe; the more we talked to them and got to know the people involved in the company, the more attractive it became. There seemed to be a great need for the service, and the right people to go into business with."

Alkire, 47, has extensive experience in owning and growing a business. After graduating from West Virginia University with a business degree, he launched a career in the restaurant industry. He put in 30 years in the industry, beginning as a crew member in high school, and holding managerial positions at various restaurants across the nation after graduating from college. Most recently, he was the cofounder of an upscale café concept called Purebread Deli. He and his business partner grew the business from one to five locations, with four in Delaware and one in southern Pennsylvania.

Nunziato, 40, spent 10 years in customer service with American Airlines and Rosenbluth Corporate Travel. She graduated from nursing school at St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Center School of Nursing in 2009 and is currently continuing her nursing studies at the University of Delaware.

"The business was attractive because it’s a service I know I would personally sign up for, especially to enjoy being outdoors with our 1-year-old son," she said. "We can help families enjoy the outdoors and have a better experience."

The business will have one van and two or three employees this season, with a goal of having four vans to service the whole state. There are future plans to cover Pennsylvania and Maryland as well.

The Virginia-based Mosquito Joe company provides mosquito control treatment to residential and commercial customers nationwide.

Mosquito Joe technicians will treat your yard with a barrier spray that keeps biting mosquitoes away for 21 days. The spray kills them on contact and bonds to foliage, where it acts as a repellent. Within 30 minutes of spraying, your yard can be used by family and pets. Every three weeks, the yard is treated again.

All of the chemicals used by Mosquito Joe are synthetic forms of pyrethrins. They are insecticides derived from a naturally occurring compound called pyrethrum, which is found in chrysanthemums. The barrier spray is also effective on fleas, ticks and some types of flies. The comapny also offers all-natural options for treatments that contain no chemicals.

In the meantime, with backyard and beach season approaching, there are a few things you can do to reduce the mosquito population around your home.

First, you should eliminate or reduce standing and stagnant water. Potential mosquito-production habitats include buckets, clogged rain gutters, corrugated drainpipes, poorly drained flat roofs, old tires, abandoned swimming pools, neglected bird baths, depressions in tarps, bilge water in boat bottoms, flower pot saucers, garbage cans or their upturned lids, upright wheelbarrows, or any other types of containers that can collect and hold water for four or more consecutive days.

Ornamental ponds can also breed mosquitoes, so keep the water moving, or stock it with fish that eat mosquito larvae.

You can always try to avoid areas where mosquitoes are most active, such as near coastal marshes, wet woodlands or other swampy locations. If you happen to live in a mosquito-prone area or you're visiting, your next line of defense is to stay indoors during peak mosquito activity, which for many species is near dusk, during the evening or night, and into early morning.

However, some particularly troublesome species, such as the common saltmarsh mosquito or the Asian tiger mosquito, are also very active daytime biters. It is important to use door and window screens and keep them in good repair.

The type of clothing you wear can also help to reduce mosquito bites. If it’s not too hot or uncomfortable, consider wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants when outside. Wearing light-colored clothing also helps (avoid red colors, which tend to be attractive to mosquitoes). Using yellow light bulbs for outside lighting might also help.

Avoiding outside activities that require a lot of exertion and generate a lot of carbon dioxide, a powerful natural mosquito attractant, is advisable in mosquito-infested areas. Physical exertion also produces body heat and lactic acid in sweat, which also attract mosquitoes.

Probably the most common remedy is the use of chemical repellent. Studies have shown that the most effective types of repellents contain the chemical DEET (used in brands such as Off, Cutter, Muskol, Ben’s, Sawyer). You can also try natural oils, spices or other extracts (eucalyptus oil, lemongrass, pennyroyal, allspice, bay, camphor, cinnamon, citronella, geranium, lavender, nutmeg, peppermint, pine, thyme).

For more information about Mosquito Joe services in Delaware, call 302-504-6757 or e-mail kalkire@mosquitojoe.com.


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