Entrepreneur Bernard Desarnauts spent 12 years working in Silicon Valley before moving back to France in 2006 to set up European businesses for American companies. Initially SOS Moustik, launched last year, started as a proof of concept but Bernard has quickly set his sights beyond running a little local business with potential franchising in Italy, Spain and the Middle East. What has led him to tackle the mosquito’s breeding cycle? Bernard, in perfect English, shares his opinion: “I’m not an expert, but I believe that the rise in mosquitoes can be traced back to the fifties when pesticides like DDT were banned in Western countries. Slowly over time breeding has become easier. Three years ago the tiger mosquito arrived on the Côte d’Azur – now it can also be found in Lyon and Montpellier – and once the species starts to breed, it remains native forever. There are two problems especially with le moustique tigre. First, it carries dengue fever, which can lead to very serious illness, especially for your pets. And second, unlike other species of the mosquito, it’s relentless and will eat you alive all day long. There’s no one area affected more than others although we’ve had more calls from Mandelieu, Le Rouret and Roquebrune-Cap-Martin.”
An effective war against this insect
So how can SOS Moustik help? “Citronella and repellent are not very effective when it comes to the tiger mosquito. The treatments we apply are not new – they’ve been used in the US for years – but we use the latest equipment and products. They fall into three categories. A fogging machine, as in the picture, creates a mist that penetrates bushes and hedges in cool shaded areas outside. One treatment lasts for about three weeks. Next there’s a system to cover walls, floors and ceilings in the dining room, or BBQ and pool areas. The last option is a long-term bio-bacteria treatment where we assess your home to determine where mosquitoes are reproducing, like in less obvious areas with stagnant water. Mosquitoes need very little water to breed and their life cycle is very short – about five to ten days from laying the egg to a full biting adult mosquito.”
Safe and timely treatments
What about time and safety issues? “Most gardens can be done in less than 45 minutes. Our products are odourless and safe, and your family and pets can return to the garden within two hours. After seeing results from an initial treatment, 90% of our customers have then signed up for a package plan. For most of us, spending money is always hard when we don’t see a problem but it’s important to realise that mosquitoes have their best breeding results during the winter months.”
I’d read that pregnant women are more vulnerable to mosquito bites. “I’ve not heard that but mosquitoes are definitely attracted to higher CO2 levels although it’s the person’s body odour that’s the deciding meal factor.” And there I thought it was because I was sweet.