When mosquitoes assaulted 6-year-old Emily Simon, parents Brad and Stephanie Simon fought back.
The young Springdale girl, who will be going into the first grade soon, had severe allergic reactions to mosquito bites. Some of them happened in her own yard.
Medical treatment was required. Stephanie Simon said, "Just from one mosquito bite, Emily would break out in hives, really huge welts. We had to do something."
The Simons built a campaign. They learned all they could about mosquitoes then they searched for a safe but effective means of combating them.
The most common actions against mosquitoes are repellents and pesticides. These are two extremes, Brad Simon said.
Repellents are products that are sprayed on persons, on clothing and used in surroundings where people are. Citronella candles are an example of the latter. Some people can heave allergic reactions to the spray-on items too. Repellents may chase away mosquitoes, but they don’t kill the insects.
Pesticides are dangerous. Horror stories exist from days past when DDT was applied massively and when communities ran fogging trucks in warm weather evenings with children running behind and playing in the pesticide vapor.
Brad and Stephanie Simon met Mosquito Joe.
This is a company based in Virginia Beach, Va., that franchises its mosquito elimination program all over the nation. Brad Simon said, "We went to Virginia Beach and saw what they had going. We thought it was the thing for us."
Mosquito Joe uses a mix in its spraying that is not dangerous to people or animals, the Simons said. But it kills mosquitoes. And it kills fleas. And it kills ticks. When a yard is sprayed, the Simons tell residents to keep children and pets inside for a half hour. After that, it’s safe to go into the sprayed area and resume normal activities. Dogs can roll in the grass that was sprayed 30 minutes previously.
The Simons bought a franchise with the territory covering Washington, Benton, Madison and Carroll counties in northwestern Arkansas.
There are no contracts with the Mosquito Joe program, the Simons said. "Mosquito season is April through October, and we recommend that spraying be done every three weeks. This means 10 sprayings for a full season," Brad Simon said.
Learning about mosquitoes was a major part of the Simons’ venture.
Only female mosquitoes bite. The males don’t. Females bite persons and animals to get protein from blood, not for the blood itself, Brad Simon said. This protein is essential for them to lay eggs.
"Mosquitoes don’t need a lot of water to breed," he said. "We had a mild winter then a wet spring, so the mosquitoes really came out this year. Mosquitoes can lay eggs in just a little bit of water, something as small as a bottle cap turned up."
Mosquitoes bite animals more than people, Brad Simon said. Cows are a major target. Mosquitoes are involved with a number of serious and sometimes fatal diseases, like West Nile virus through birds. They are a carrier for heartworm, which is widespread and often fatal among dogs.
The Simons moved from Paris in western Arkansas to the Springdale area in 1996. They have two other children, 16-year-old Andrew and 11-month-old T.J, who aren’t nearly as susceptible to mosquito bites as Emily. But the entire Simons family is enjoying yard activities again.
Joe Mosby is the retired news editor of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Arkansas’ best known outdoor writer. His work is distributed by the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock.