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Zika and Your Mosquito Control Category

Basic Mosquito Control
Use this easy reference guide to refresh your employees’ knowledge about the many products that can help your customers control mosquitoes. Download the Mosquito Control Infographic and Trainer’s Notes here or visit www.nrha.org/FreeTraining to see the other training tools we offer.

While some homeowners may be inviting more animals into their backyards, there’s one bit of wildlife they seem to universally reject: the mosquito. In the U.S., the outbreak of viruses such as West Nile and the current threat of the Zika virus is a reminder that these insects can carry harmful diseases. Customers concerned about the threat posed by mosquitoes may head to your store for answers on how to control them. Carve your niche by becoming the go-to source for mosquito control.

Talk Prevention, Not Fear

With the threat seemingly distant to much of the U.S. population, you may not be hearing many customers talking about the Zika virus, unless you’re like Adam Novick, manager of Alpers Hardware in Port Washington, New York.

The Asian Tiger Mosquito, the common name of Aedes Albopictus, one of the two mosquitos most likely to transmit Zika, is found all along the east coast. The presence of the mosquito, combined with a population that includes a high number of travelers, has raised concerns among residents in Novick’s Long Island market about the potential spread of the virus.

“We have had a lot of people talking about Zika, and around here, talking about mosquito control is synonymous with talking about Zika,” he says.

Novick wants to offer solutions to customers who want to control mosquitoes on their property, but he doesn’t want to do it in such a way that preys on or increases their fears. He uses in-store signage and social media outlets to raise awareness about products that will control and prevent mosquitoes, and then helps customers decide how to respond.

For those who may have questions about Zika, you should be prepared with the facts. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website, www.cdc.gov, has a wealth of information, including easy-to-read infographics, that can help you and your customers understand who is at greatest risk from Zika and how to prevent mosquito bites. Hopefully, Zika will not become an epidemic, but by being prepared with the facts early, you can position yourself as the go-to resource for mosquito control products if it does.

Focus on Preventative Solutions

Of course, shoppers won’t be looking for mosquito control products just because they’re afraid of Zika. No one wants the pesky insect invading their backyard barbeque, so summertime will naturally bring an increase in mosquito repellents. An effective mosquito control plan involves preventing as well as repelling.

Remind customers to eliminate or treat standing water around the home, which is a prime breeding ground for mosquitoes. Common places to find standing water are in flower pots, toys, birdbaths or trash containers.

“Gutters are a big culprit of standing water that most people don’t think about,” says Novick. “One of the best products to sell for this is a foam gutter guard you put in the gutter to keep out leaves. It also prevents mosquitoes from breeding.”

Also encourage customers to keep screens in good working condition, and use the opportunity to promote your screen repair service. There are also mosquito trap devices that can cover an entire yard. While they generally carry a higher price point, they can be effective at reducing the mosquito population, allowing homeowners to enjoy their outdoor spaces.

One of the challenges of selling mosquito repellents is that many consumers are concerned about the chemicals used in many repellents. Those most at risk from Zika are pregnant women, who are even more likely to be wary of chemical repellents. The CDC recommends using a repellent registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a safe and effective way of repelling mosquitoes. Some consumers will still have their reservations about these chemicals and look for natural options. While you may carry those options, the best practice is to recommend the EPA-registered products and to help customers decide for themselves if non-registered products are worth the risk.

Know What’s Different About the Zika Mosquito

According to the CDC, not all mosquitoes behave the same. Unlike the mosquito that spreads West Nile, the two types that spread Zika are most active during the day (although they still bite at night) and are commonly found indoors in homes without proper screening.

Consumers concerned about Zika will need to change their habits when it comes to preventing bites. They should take preventative measures during the daytime, not just during the evening.

Also make sure the repellent they are using is effective against Zika-carrying mosquitoes. Novick, for example, sells the Mosquito Magnet, which attracts and traps mosquitoes, and trapping the Asian Tiger Mosquito requires a special lure. Check with vendors of the products you carry to make sure there are no special requirements for repelling or trapping the Zika mosquito.

About Jesse Carleton

Jesse Carleton has visited independent hardware retailers, conducted original research on the industry and written extensively about the business of hardware retailing. Jesse has written for more than a dozen of NHPA’s contract publishing titles, all related to the hardware retailing industry. He also was instrumental in developing the Basic Training in Hardware Retailing courses now used by thousands of retailers across the country.

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