PITTSFIELD — Jim Underdown and Tylor Harrington don’t have any love for bloodsuckers, and they aim to send them all packing from our fine Berkshire hills.
It sounds like the plot for a vampire flick.
In reality, Harrington and Underdown are on the hunt for ticks, mosquitoes and other biting insects with a thirst for human blood.
This spring, the two lawn specialists are launching Tick & Mosquito Control of Western Massachusetts; they are now making appointments for free estimates on Berkshire County properties.
Underdown, a former golf pro with a degree in mathematics, says treatments begin toward the end of April. That’s when he treats his own yard with the barrier spray, which is applied via a backpack mister.
They use it for themselves, family, furry friends
Without the onslaught of bugs, Underdown, his wife and children can use their Pittsfield yard regularly, instead of seeking cover.
Harrington, also of Pittsfield, lives with two dogs: Paxton, 18 months, a boxer mix, and Ralphie, 4 months, an American bulldog mix.
“I treat my yard with the same thing that we use with our customers. I’ve never had a tick on me or the dogs, and I feel better when they’re running around out there,” says Harrington.
Underdown says he, too, has never been bitten by a deer tick, the carrier of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.
“You can finally go outside and stay out past dark, and not worry about being eaten alive,” says Harrington.
With diseases like West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis carried by mosquitoes, a barrier treatment is ideal for keeping your family safe and free from these insect-borne illnesses, says Underdown.
Partners and competitors
He and Harrington are business partners and co-owners of the new business, and they’re also competitors. The two each have their own established lawn care businesses: Underdown is the local franchisee-owner of The Lawn Doctor, and Harrington owns Berkshire Turfgrass Specialists.
“We’ve been in the lawn care space for five years and dabbling with bug control individually for those five years,” says Underdown. “Now is the first time we’ve teamed up and pooled resources, and specialize in it, as opposed to a company that has it as an add-on feature.”
The teammates and friendly rivals met while out doing lawns, and had heard of one another through mutual friends. It was an auspicious introduction.
Is it buggy around here?
Is there a need for pest control in Berkshire County? It’s one of the state’s hotspots for Lyme, they note; and our region’s plentiful mosquitoes can carry canine heartworms, too.
As an added service, the company offers a handy tool to help deal with carriers of ticks and fleas, Harrington notes, such as mice, rats or chipmunks.
“Rodents are big carriers. Our tick tubes target them with cotton treated with an insecticide. The mice bring it back to their nests, and they sleep in it. It repels the ticks but doesn't kill the rodents,” says Harrington.
As some might recall from history class, it was rodents that spread the Black Plague in Europe, via fleas.
“Who knows what you’re stopping?” wonders Underdown.
Two pesticide packages
The company uses two treatments. The natural variety employs essential oils — cedarwood, peppermint and rosemary — to repel ticks and mosquitoes.
The second is a synthetic solution made up of pyrethrins, which are based on a naturally occurring chemical found in the chrysanthemum flower. These are used in numerous insect control products, such as pet shampoos, and are not likely to be carcinogenic to humans, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The men use a mist blower for the application, and either is effective against ticks, fleas, mosquitoes, ground bees and ants.
They wear protective clothing while applying the mist, and ask the home or business owners to take simple precautions during the initial application.
“We ask clients to stay off the lawn for about an hour, until it’s all dry on the plants, then it’s safe for dogs, humans, everything,” says Harrington.
You won’t need them as much as the other guys
Tick & Mosquito Control of Western Massachusetts is needed less onsite by their customers, as their applications last 30 days, rather than the standard 21 days that you’ll find with competitors. That means more time to enjoy your backyards to yourselves, they note.
Harrington says the company offers special event sprays, “for a really fast knock down for a couple days before the event.” These might be weddings, receptions or concerts, they note, any kind of outdoor activity where bugs might pose a problem.
The company can customize contracts for residential and commercial properties that range upward to midsize. If you sign up for season-long treatments, you’ll receive a monthly application for the length of the warmer seasons.
Tick & Mosquito Control of Western Massachusetts also performs contracts and incidental work, such as treatments only during the buggiest months.
Mixed projects welcome (and golf!)
Of course, the duo is always ready to assist with related or unrelated lawn care, and happy to help with land reclamation and associated bug-killing work.
And, if you like golf, Underdown runs Downswing's Indoor Golf Center in Pittsfield, where you might be able to squeeze a tip or two out of him; Harrington, an avowed “baseball guy,” probably has some golf in his future whether he likes it or not.
“Jim just ordered me a set of clubs,” he says.
Call or text 413-329-1940, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Tick & Mosquito Control of Western Massachusetts to help make your black fly, mosquito and tick seasons more bearable and safe. Initial estimates are free.