Almost two decades ago, there was something that was bugging East End Tick & Mosquito Control (EET&MC) owner Brian Kelly, and he decided to do something about it. As a tree care specialist, he observed how mosquitoes and ticks permeated the environment throughout the East End of Long Island, so he got busy researching and instituting his philosophy that prevention is better than a cure.
As the owner of EET&MC, Kelly began his quest to protect the East End, while also protecting the well-being of residents and visitors. A family-owned and operated company, EET&MC "Specializes in traditional and organic control methods, offering alternatives to harsh pesticides, and is committed to the most environmentally responsible and effective programs." EET&MC is also fully insured and licensed by the Department of Environmental Conservation.
The first and only New York State licensed and dedicated tick and mosquito control specialists servicing the East End, EET&MC has experience servicing clients from Moriches to Montauk, Wading River to Orient Point and Shelter Island, offering the most environmentally responsible and effective programs.
When Kelly founded EEM&TC in 1997, it was the only business of its kind on the East End prepared to battle the growing tick epidemic, and anyone who has suffered through Lyme's disease or been bitten mercilessly while trying to enjoy the outdoors, can certainly attest to the need and desire for such an important business that directly improves the quality of life we all enjoy on the East End. Operating April through November annually, EEM&TC services has many humming the great Gershwin tune from Porgy and Bess, Summertime and the livin' is easy.
Having noticed the growing epidemic for additional measures beyond simple pest control, Kelly again rose to the challenge and recently founded Twin Forks Pest Control in 2012.
Even as a child, Kelly always had a special appreciation for the outdoors. After earning a degree in Marketing from Dowling College, he worked for the president of the New York State Arborist Association as a tree care specialist and certified spray technician, servicing some of the oldest trees in New York.
He lives in Southampton with his wife and two children, and relayed, "We love living on the East End. The natural beauty is magical and every season has its share of fun and adventure. My children are young now, but someday they too will realize how lucky they are to live here."
When the opportunity arose to present and speak to elementary school children in science classes, Kelly discovered a passion for teaching as well, which lead him to pursue a Master's degree in Elementary Education. However, the difficulty of securing a permanent teaching position in the area versus the alternative of moving away prompted Kelly to channel his knowledge and inherent desire to protect the area he knows and loves by becoming a pioneer in the pest control business on the East End.
Catching up with Kelly during this busy time of year is almost as difficult as tracing the pattern of a mosquito, yet we did manage to clip his wings to keep him still long enough to answer a few questions for Hamptons.com:
What do you consider to be the most dangerous tick or mosquito that is indigenous or that you have dealt with on the East End?
BK: All ticks are dangerous because any bite can compromise your health. Since they are so small and hard to see, it is my opinion that nymph deer ticks are the most dangerous. Most people don't even realize that they've been bit until after they're sick.
As a tree care specialist, what type of trees have you observed that are in the most danger for infestation, and what can a property owner do to keep their landscape and property safe year-round?
BK: It's important to keep your trees and shrubs maintained - not only for the health of the tree but also for your own. Trimming allows for more sunlight to reach your yard, and therefore limits the population growth of the temperature-sensitive deer ticks. Japanese Barberry is an invasive species that creates the perfect humid environment for ticks to live in and should be avoided and removed. Pachysandra and other ground cover should also be avoided as they tend to harbor mice and become a tick-haven.
As an educator, what would you want to teach residents about keeping themselves, their families and property safe from disease carrying ticks and mosquitoes, and how can adults translate that to their children?
BK: Tick and mosquito borne diseases can be prevented. It's extremely important for adults and children alike to include tick checks as part of their daily routine. It's also recommended that repellents be included, especially if you plan to visit areas that are considered home to them. With the help of contracted school teacher, April Boitano, we developed a program called "Tick Wise." It's a visual and interactive session in which we teach young children how to protect themselves from tick bites. We've been working alongside the Southampton Hospital's Tick Borne Disease Resource Center to bring "Tick Wise" to schools, camps, and libraries throughout the East End. Thus far, it's been extremely successful. We have worked with more than 1,000 kids and look forward to meeting more and sharing our message.
Knowing that EEM&TC uses only environmentally friendly and/or organic methods, how safe are pets?
BK: East End Tick and Mosquito Control offers both traditional and organic spray programs. Both are safe for children and pets once the product has dried, which usually takes about a half-hour or so. I'm a strong believer in that the solution should not be worse than the problem, which is why I avoid using the harsh chemicals sold on the market.
As a member of the Tick Control Advisory Committee (TCAC) (recently appointed by Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory of the Suffolk County Legislature), what does that translate to for your day to day operations?
BK: I'm proud to be a member of the Suffolk County Tick Control Advisory Committee and proud to work with officials from the Suffolk County Health Department, The Department of Environmental Conservation, Suffolk County Vector Control and many distinguished individuals who are all donating their time to serve on this important committee. We are committed to helping the residents of Suffolk County reduce the incidents of tick borne diseases throughout the county. Senator Kenneth LaValle and Assemblyman Fred Thiele have requested $500,000 to be included in the 2017-2018 State Budget for Phase 1 of the Tick Surveillance and Management Program. This is a vital step toward addressing tick-borne illness in our county.
How important is research in determining not only appropriate solutions, but forecasting what type of tick or mosquito may make the East End its home or breeding ground?
BK: Research is a continuous part of my routine. New products are introduced to the market every year, many with claims that are sometimes unsubstantiated, so testing new products for efficacy is an annual responsibility. We want to make sure our clients receive the best protection possible. Unfortunately, there is no magic spray that is 100 percent effective. We have forecasted this season to be a terrible tick season due to the bumper crop of acorns last year. Not only do mighty oaks grow from acorns but so do squirrels, raccoons, deer and mice - all of whom consider the acorn the cheeseburger of the forest. The astronomical amount of acorns that fell last fall is resulting in a population explosion of small mammals, like mice, who will be transporting ticks into backyards across the East End.
Can you tell us a little about your newest venture, Twin Forks Pest Control, and exactly what services are offered?
BK: Over the past 20 years many of my clients have asked me to take care of other pest problems they were having such as ants in their kitchens, mice in the basement, wasp nests, moles and voles in the garden, etc. It just seemed natural to expand the business, so in 2012 I opened Twin Forks Pest Control to handle all the "other" pest problems. I'm blessed to have a great staff, without them growth would be impossible. Over the past few years Twin Forks Pest Control has become the leader in the local industry utilizing the newest techniques and using the best products available to get the job done right the first time.
Thank-you for taking the time to speak to Hamptons.com, and for your sage and professional advice on how we can all stay safe and healthy while enjoying ourselves on the East End. Happy summer!