New franchise hits Madison during peak season for pest control

Heavy rains and hot, humid temps will keep technicians from Mosquito Joe busy in their war against mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks.

Thanks to heavy spring rains combined with recent hot, muggy temps, anyone who spent time outdoors over the long Memorial Day weekend likely encountered what’s long been jokingly referred to as “Wisconsin’s state bird” — mosquitoes.

The buzzing, biting pests are no laughing matter, however. Beyond being itch-inducing irritants, mosquitoes are also carriers of potentially deadly diseases. In Wisconsin, the most common mosquito-borne illnesses are La Crosse encephalitis and West Nile virus, according to the state Department of Health Services. In 2017, mosquito species capable of transmitting the Zika virus were also found in Dane County for the first time. While no cases of mosquito-borne Zika have yet been reported in Wisconsin, it’s still cause for concern.

Ticks are also a common problem, and these insects carry Lyme disease and other serious illnesses that can impact Wisconsinites.

Entering the fray in the battle against the bugs is Mosquito Joe, a franchise new to the Madison area but with more than 360 franchises spanning 35 states as of this year.

Local owner Kate Reithel has worked in various marketing roles for several retail companies across the country, but her career started in the franchising space and after moving back to Wisconsin she became interested in a business ownership opportunity that would allow her more flexibility in her schedule.

Mosquito Joe is unique in that it provides its franchisees with a seasonal business model, offering them a more flexible lifestyle. The south-central Wisconsin communities Reithel’s Mosquito Joe franchise is serving are also a natural fit, as the region features many areas with large bodies of water that naturally tend to have mosquito infestation issues.

Mosquito Joe began servicing customers in Dane and Sauk counties on May 1, and Reithel says the company’s corporate office was very involved in helping her build her territory. “They facilitated an extensive training process for me, my office staff, and our technicians,” she explains. “A franchise business coach also visited us in Madison to offer support ahead of our opening.”

Mosquito Joe of Madison started with two full-time employees and Reithel plans to hire one more full-time and one part-time employee. While one or two employees manage the office, three are in the field visiting clients’ homes, she notes. “We’re also working with a lot of college students who are home for the summer.”

The peak season for Mosquito Joe lasts as long as temperatures consistently stay above 50 degrees, says Reithel. During its offseason, the company does a lot of prepping for the following year, including pre-sales, training, and marketing.

Despite the name, Mosquito Joe doesn’t limit its services to mosquito control. The company’s technicians also spray for fleas and ticks. “Mosquito Joe has a variety of products, but our goal is to tailor our services to each of our client’s individual needs,” says Reithel. “We offer synthetic and natural products, depending on what is best for your specific home and yard. We have trained technicians who are geared up with a backpack [sprayer] to allow them to be nimble and to reach the most troublesome areas of your yard.”

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Mosquito mitigation

Reithel notes Mosquito Joe fights a never-ending battle against the annoying arthropods in its efforts to “Make Outside Fun Again.”

“Mosquitoes have survived millions of years and they breed quite quickly,” Reithel says.

The greater Madison-area has a lot of parks, neighborhoods, and other community areas that tend to accumulate standing water, the prime breeding ground for mosquitoes. “There are also, of course, a number of lakes in our area,” says Reithel. “The lush landscape allows mosquitoes to hide from the sun during the day and survive longer.”

The simplest thing people can do to help keep the mosquito population down is eliminating standing water left in wheelbarrows, birdbaths, and other areas that tend to collect a lot of water. Those should be drained as often as possible, advises Reithel.

Once mosquitoes and other pests become a problem, Mosquito Joe recommends spraying every 21 days; however, depending on your yard and specific needs for your outdoor living area, treatments might be needed more or less frequently.

It takes Mosquito Joe’s products about 30 to 45 minutes to dry. Technicians are trained and certified in the application of all treatments, and the sprays are tailored specifically to a client’s yard and the application is done according to EPA rules and regulations.

Pricing varies based on several factors including time, the size and density of foliage on a customer’s property, and the amount of product that technicians need to use. Services include barrier sprays, all-natural treatments, special event treatments, and sprays specifically targeted fleas or ticks.

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