We like to characterize our industry as being a form of public health protection. An opportunity to live up to that lofty goal has arrived again this season, in the form of mosquito control. But it takes some time to prepare for proper action. To help give you a roadmap of possibilities, here are nine questions to consider before you offer mosquito service:
1. Have you developed a mosquito management program? I’m not talking about just the pesticide application schedule. A full-bodied program involves communicating with the customer, inspection protocols and the environmental alternatives you have ready.
2. What exactly are you promising your customers? Obviously, you cannot guarantee no one will be bitten, you will totally eliminate the possibility of any Zika cases, and there will be zero mosquitoes breeding on the property. You can, however, explain the steps you will take, along with the level of customer cooperation you need, to minimize the risk of any bites or illnesses.
3. Have you checked with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), your state university extension service, and a distributor who specializes in mosquito management offerings to determine what they advise you to do? For example, in some markets, the resistance level to certain pyrethroids is much higher than in others. You have to tailor your program to fit your local situation.
4. What certification do you need in each state for the different types of mosquito control? Treating a backyard, storm drain, catch basin, pond or sump pump may require different certification categories within a given state.
5. What training and precautions have you provided your technicians before they go to a mosquito account? You have to reduce liability claims from the public, as well as your own employees.
6. Do you have teams of technicians specifically trained for mosquito management? What and how many resources are you willing to invest to do this?
7. What documented training programs have your technicians successfully completed? What about continuing certification credits?
8. What literature about mosquito management have you produced for your customers? Check with your extension service, industry associations, the CDC and manufacturers of appropriate products for already available materials.
9. Have you created a detailed list of mosquito breeding areas? Ask your technicians to help you develop this list. For example, bromeliad plants indoors and outdoors can be a risk factor. For some, just looking at these questions is enough to discourage them from offering the service. For others, it gets their mind turning and their adrenaline flowing. Both decisions are correct, as long as you know what you are getting into.
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