How to keep the mosquitoes away

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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — For as long as Hoosiers have had backyards, we have been sharing them with mosquitoes. They like warm days and cool nights, too. And they keep the same schedule as we do: they go to work around our homes during the day, breeding, looking for places to beat the heat. In the evening, they want to join us, and bite us.

Hoosiers are unlikely to contract things like West Nile virus, yellow fever, or encephalitis from mosquito bites (although it does happen in a small number of cases).

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Mostly, mosquitoes and other insect pests are just annoying. But more Hoosiers are turning to private companies to eliminate the annoyance and reclaim their own yards for their families.

Websites like nextdoor.com and homeadvisor.com are full of recommendations for mosquito control companies. They generally charge based on the size of your yard, starting at around $60 per treatment and working their way up. And while no treatment can eliminate all mosquitoes, by most accounts they are effective. Brad Miller owns Mosquito Joe of North Indianapolis.

"The first treatment will get you a 70 to 75 percent reduction", he said. "The second spray is about 80 to 85 percent. By that third spray, you'll be about 90 to 95 percent."

Mosquito Joe spraying an insecticide to create a mosquito barrier
Mosquito Joe spraying an insecticide to create a mosquito barrier

Companies like Mosquito Joe are able to do that by spraying an insecticide on the shrubs around your home, creating a barrier. They usually use a naturally occurring extract from chrysanthemum flowers. When mosquitoes come in contact with it, they die. One thing to note is that sunlight and rain can degrade the treatment over a few weeks, so in order to keep up the barrier, most people have to re-spray every three weeks or so. Brad Miller admits that it is a "luxury" item, but in less than three years on the job, he's got a growing list of more than 600 customers so far. For people who have a pool and nice landscaping, it's the price they pay for being able to enjoy it. He's already seen the shift: "It's going to become more like getting your lawn treated eventually. It's just something people do, especially if you spend a lot of money on your backyard."

Jennifer Aslin and her family are on board with the treatments: "We moved her 8 years ago, and for the first few summers, we really struggled with mosquitoes", she said. "Because we're so close to a creek and a heavily-wooded area." She went on-line, hired Mosquito Joe of North Indianapolis, and has never regretted it. She, her husband, and their three children spend hours in their yard now - swimming, cooking out, gathered around the fire pit. "It's been a blessing, definitely worth it. I wouldn't go without it because, ultimately, when you're getting bitten by mosquitoes, why stay outside? This allows us stay outside longer each night."

While the idea of mosquito control is just gaining traction in central Indiana, it has been standard operating procedure in other parts of the country for years. The American Mosquito Control Association based in Jacksonville, has been operating since 1903. It advocates for mosquito control, but warns that consumers should be wary of operators. It encourages people to make sure the mosquito control company they hire is licensed and certified, that it uses a type of insecticide that is generally not dangerous for children and pets, and that an operator will follow-up to make sure the treatment is successful.

As with hiring any contractor, the best recommendations come from family and friends. When done right, mosquito control treatments work and with summer days dwindling, Hoosier homeowners can always use a little help to get the most out of their property before the snow starts flying again.

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