By David R. Cohen | firstname.lastname@example.org
Summertime is upon us, and so are the days of grilling in the back yard and relaxing by the pool. But one pesky part of the season has also arrived.
Enter Matt Brill and Jason Smith, the founders of Doraville-based mosquito control outfit Mr. Mister. As summer heats up, these two Jews are on a mission to help Atlanta residents take back their yards, one spray at a time.
“People don’t know that living without mosquitoes is an option,” Brill said. “We don’t sell mosquito control; we sell mosquito-free yards.”
Mosquito season stretches from March to October, with our flying foes active when temperatures rise above 50 degrees. Brill said that demand for mosquito control skyrockets in June, July and August — for good reason. Atlanta has the unlucky distinction of being ranked the worst city in the United States for mosquitoes two years in a row by national pest control company Orkin.
Atlanta natives Brill and Smith didn’t start out in the pest control business, but they knew all about Georgia’s overabundance of mosquitoes. Brill grew up attending Temple Emanu-El and worked in private equity before a trip four years ago with Smith and their wives to St. Maarten gave them inspiration to get into the business.
“We couldn’t even go outside because there were so many mosquitoes,” Brill said of the Caribbean island. “I was thinking, ‘Why don’t they have a mosquito system?’ Jason and I had the idea to sell systems there, but doing business in the Caribbean turned out to be a challenge, so we ended up stopping down there and starting up here. My wife, Staci, married a guy who drove a Porsche Cayenne and worked in private equity. Now I’m in pest control, and I drive a pickup truck.”
In Atlanta the duo enlisted the help of Ryan Claterbaugh, a veteran of the mosquito eradication industry, and Mr. Mister was born. The company now offers two services for mosquito control across metro Atlanta: a monthly ClearZone spray treatment and a fully automated, remote-control spray system installation.
The mosquito control business started in Houston around the year 2000. To stand out from the competition, and because Brill, Smith and Claterbaugh love giving back to the community, Mr. Mister does regular work at parks and playgrounds free. You may have seen a Mr. Mister sign at Brook Run dog park, Morningside Elementary, or the playgrounds at the Marcus Jewish Community Center, B’nai Torah and Brill’s congregation, Temple Sinai.
“All three of us have dogs,” Brill said. “Heartworm in dogs is transferred by mosquitoes. For us it was natural to complimentarily treat parks. We really believe in being responsible members of our community.”
How to Control Mosquitoes
Mosquito control doesn’t end at spraying. Mr. Mister’s Matt Brill offers these three tips to help you reclaim your yard:
- Eliminate standing water.
Mosquitoes need water to breed. Brill said the goal is to eliminate any standing water from your house or property, and you need to worry about more than gutters and drains. The Asian tiger mosquito can breed in as little water as an upside-down bottle cap.
- Reduce shade in your yard.
Prune hedges and mow the yard to reduce shady cover. Mosquitoes like to escape the midday heat in hedges, bushes, shrubs and tall grass. Mow the yard at least once a week to keep the grass from turning into a mosquito safe house.
- Stock water gardens with fish, and chlorinate swimming pools.
If you have a pond or swimming pool, you don’t have to drain it or let the mosquitoes run wild. Goldfish, minnows and other fish eat mosquito larvae, and chlorinated water keeps mosquitoes at bay.
Contrary to popular belief, these classic remedies won’t get rid of mosquitoes:
- Bug zappers. They attract and kill thousands of insects, but most aren’t mosquitoes.
- Citronella candles. They aren’t any more effective than other candles, though candle smoke in general may have a limited repellant effect.
- Ultrasonic devices. They don’t work at all.
- Spraying garlic in the backyard. It might help with vampires but not these bloodsuckers.
- Propane gas traps. They capture many mosquitoes but only a small fraction of the ones in your yard.