Chris Formoso gets to ride a bike for work. Not to work. For work.
He’s an Operations Supervisor at Clarke, a mosquito-control company based in Roselle that’s been around since 1946.
Formoso's two-wheeled purpose is to drop water-soluble packets into catch basins. Those packages contain larvicide which prevents mosquitoes from breeding, biting and ultimately spreading disease.
"The bicycles have really become more efficient than our trucks for catch basin storm drain treatments," said George Balis, an entomologist and control consultant at Clarke. "The reason behind that is it reduced our fuel for one, but we can treat more on ongoing basis. About 60 percent of our treatments are now done by bicycle.”
That’s not the only green thing Clarke is up to. Protecting communities from Lincolnshire to St. Charles, Kankakee to Rockford (all collar counties), Clarke was recently awarded the Environmental Protection Agency's Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award for developing a greener design of mosquito larvicide.
It may seem counterintuitive to put chemistry and green in the same sentence, but Balis said that is the next step in controlling diseases like West Nile, Dengue, and Malaria.
"Right now we are in transition period. West Nile usually comes out in mid July. Early this season we were much warmer than normal and wetter than normal as well. Late July and early August we see it turn over to the northern house mosquito and that’s when you start to see West Nile."
Communities like Roselle have been treated by Clarke's latest organic larvicide line. There still has to be some toxicity but Balis said they've been working to lower the amount.
"We worked for eight years to get to where you are reducing your insecticide load by about 2-10 percent to what had previously been used," he said.
It also reduces the amount of protection administrators of the larvicide have to use.
"Gloves may be needed, respirators [and ]things of that sort. Now with these products these are not needed as well safer for tech less toxicity in the environment.”
It’s the greenest way to get rid of mosquitoes and their diseases, for now.