Columbus Junction family business takes a bite out of gnats

“It put us on the map,” said Barb Dotson, on the growth of Bug Soother in Columbus Junction, Iowa.

COLUMBUS JUNCTION, Iowa --  From the despair of flooding here in 2008, something positive actually emerged and continues to grow as a homegrown success story.

Inside a former bowling alley, Barb Dotson is filling boxes with something called Bug Soother.

"It put us on the map," she said, between orders on Monday, May 15.

These orders are shipping all over the country.

"Columbus Junction, that's the home of Bug Soother," she continued.

Each green bottle offers a natural solution for gnats.  First mixed for a family member nearly a decade ago, sales topped $2.6 million in 2014.

"Some people had it out at ballparks," recalled Nikki Salek, Bug Soother's chief operating officer.  "They sprayed umpires with it, and it just took off."

Those tiny flying bugs are hatching after lots of wet and warm weather.  Pesky pests will be flying and biting over the next two months.

Each spritz spells success for Salek. She sells Bug Soother in 46 states.

"We get really busy all at once," she said.

Depending on size, it costs from $2.95 for a refillable pen to $69.95 for a gallon.

Ajay Kshetry stopped by to stock up two gas stations.  After selling out in just two days, he's loading up for the next go-round.

"They like it," he said.  "They've been buying."

Bug Soother is starting to reach out to a global market, expanding to places like London and Panama.  That will help to make it more of a year-round business.

It plans to stay in Columbus Junction, where it employs 10-25 staffers and operates its own retail shop.

"It's great when a small business can succeed," Dotson concluded.

Bug Soother is available in a variety of stores and online at http://www.bugsoother.com