Tag Archives: Attractive Toxic Sugar Bait

Class action suit over Spartan Mosquito Eradicators

AC2T, Inc., Jeremy Hirsch, and the Bonner Analytical Testing Company are targets of a class-action suit filed May 4th, 2020, in the Southern District of New York by the firm Bursor & Fisher. The complaint seeks court orders to stop the defendants’ illegal practices and for company to undertake a corrective advertising campaign. $5,000,000 is also sought. Here’s a taste of the complaint:

“The Spartan Mosquito Eradicator is a complete scam. As explained below, the Product is ineffective for mosquito control because it does not kill mosquitoes or decrease mosquito populations. Worse, Defendants are well-aware that the Product is ineffective yet sell it anyway in pursuit of profit and in clear disregard for public health and safety.”

Here’s my 2019 review of the Spartan Mosquito Eradicator. The company has also just released the Spartan Mosquito Pro Tech, which looks like the Eradicator but has boric acid instead of salt.

Note that AC2T, Inc., is the official name for Spartan Mosquito. Jeremy Hirsch is the inventor and co-owner. The Bonner Analytical Testing Company is owned by Chris Bonner, the other owner of Spartan Mosquito.

Spartan Mosquito Pro Tech

Spartan Mosquito Pro Tech

Spartan Mosquito, the company that makes the Spartan Mosquito Eradicator (which I reviewed in 2019), has unveiled a new device called the Spartan Mosquito Pro Tech. I thought I’d share what I know about the product in case anyone is curious.

What is the Spartan Mosquito Pro Tech?

Aside from differences in label design, the Pro Tech looks just like the Eradicator — a plastic tube fitted with a cap that has several ~11/64″ holes and a hook for hanging. I think the Pro Tech is an attractive toxic sugar bait (ATSB) device, just like the Eradicator. The general idea behind ATSBs is to kill adult mosquitoes by getting them to eat insecticide-laced sugar water (mosquitoes love sugar).

The big difference appears to be that the active ingredient is now boric acid instead of sodium chloride. My guess (and I could be wrong) is that the other ingredients are still sugar and yeast. The consumer adds warm water, just as for the Eradicator.

How does the Pro Tech kill mosquitoes?

To the best of my knowledge, the Pro Tech kills mosquitoes in 11 steps:

  1. mosquitoes are attracted to the tubes
  2. mosquitoes land on the tubes
  3. mosquitoes crawl around until they find the 11/64″ holes in the cap
  4. mosquitoes squeeze though the holes
  5. mosquitoes walk down sides of tube toward liquid
  6. mosquitoes ingest some of the liquid
  7. mosquitoes walk back up sides of tube
  8. mosquitoes find holes
  9. mosquitoes squeeze through holes
  10. mosquitoes fly away
  11. mosquitoes die from boric acid poisoning

Presumably, the device would eventually kill tens of thousands of mosquitoes in this way and thus provide control to a homeowner. I.e., if a homeowner has thousands of mosquitoes in her yard on a given day (probably a reasonable estimate), some large fraction will march through the steps above. Per this scenario there would be a visible cloud of hundreds of mosquitoes around the devices at any given time — this is why the company suggests setting the devices up at least 80 feet away from where people might be. Here’s what it might look like:

Hypothetical figure showing cloud of mosquitoes around Spartan Mosquito Pro Techs. Original figure (without mosquitoes shown) is from the included instructions.

Because the company hasn’t disclosed the full ingredient list, I’m unsure of what exactly would attract mosquitoes to the tubes (step 1). For the Eradicator, the company says that carbon dioxide (produced by the yeast) attracts mosquitoes, so perhaps the Pro Tech is based on the same hypothesis. But it’s my understanding that carbon dioxide production would last only a day or so before falling below appreciable levels (the yeast consumes the sugar after a day or so, as yeast does), so it’s unclear why mosquitoes would continue to be attracted. I’ll update if the company reveals more details.

I’m also unsure how long it takes a mosquito to die after ingesting boric acid (step 11) but I’m guessing between one and two days based on experiments based on the literature. This duration is important because if, say, dragonflies eat hundreds of mosquitoes that have guts filled with boric acid, they might die, too.

Is the Pro Tech better?

According to the information released by the company, there are two reasons why the Pro Tech seems like a bad deal compared to the Spartan Mosquito Eradicator. The first is that Pro Tech needs to be replaced every 30 days instead of 90. The second is that Pro Tech only “kills mosquitoes” whereas the Eradicator is supposed to kill 95% of mosquitoes (the latter strikes me as more impressive). Because both devices are the same price, the Eradicator appears to be a much better buy.

On the potential plus side, however, the company says that the Pro Tech is able to kill mosquito species that live in salt marshes (and thus implies that the Eradicator does not). So perhaps this new device is targeting consumers in coastal areas of the United States.

The company also states that the Pro Tech’s effectiveness isn’t degraded by water quality or rain. I’m not exactly sure what this means. The Eradicator label doesn’t say anything about the effectiveness being affected by water quality. Regarding the latter, the Pro Tech instructions say, “monitor for flooding after heavy rains – flooded tubes must be replaced”, which seems to suggest rain is (still) a problem.

Perhaps the largest improvement of the Pro Tech is that the company now offers a money back guarantee, which the Eradicator lacked. I think, however, you have to ask for your money back within 30 days.

Consumers can assess whether Pro Techs attract mosquitoes

Homeowners can easily determine whether the devices attract mosquitoes (and thus assess whether they are worth buying every month). Just take photographs or videos of your Pro-Tech (or Eradicator) and examine for presence of mosquitoes. It should be rather dramatic — company warns on the label to hang the devices away from people due to the gathering of mosquitoes. During the Covid-19 shutdown, I think plenty of people will have time on their hands to do this. All you need is a phone and a mosquito problem. Example below shows an Eradicator ready for filming. Just situate camera close enough so that you can easily distinguish fruit flies (which adore fermenting sugar water) from mosquitoes.

If you observe no mosquitoes at all, you can just return the device — there’s a 100% money-back guarantee. And if you observe a cloud of mosquitoes, send the photograph to Spartan Mosquito — I suspect they’ll be thrilled and perhaps would use your photograph (with credit, I’m sure) on their marketing materials.

Here’s a YouTube video in which a guy tests whether sugar-yeast solutions attract mosquitoes. Not a single mosquito was attracted. (Also, ignore what he says at the end about plants that repel mosquitoes … they do not.)

Consumers can measure how many mosquitoes ingest fluid

If you’re truly bored during the coronavirus lockdown and happen to have a water-soluble, contact insecticide handy, you can add the appropriate amount to the fluid in one of your Pro Techs and then open it up after 30 days. Any insect that ingested the fluid would die before it can escape. At the end of 30 days, dump the contents out onto a large white container and then count how many mosquitoes you have. Contact me if you have success — I’d love to receive the photograph of the killed insects. I’m happy to identify any mosquitoes, too.

Do Pro Techs kill mosquitoes IN YARDS?

The big mystery, to me, concerns the data submitted to the EPA for registration (which was granted). To demonstrate that Pro Techs would kill mosquitoes in consumers’ yards, one would need to do an experiment that involved, say, 200 typical yards equipped with devices as per company’s instructions. The devices in 100 of these yards would be normal (“off the shelf”), with the other 100 having the boric acid removed. In this way a person could analyze the mosquito counts in all 200 yards and see whether devices with boric acid reduced those counts. Ideally, the person analyzing the data wouldn’t even know which yards had the boric-acid tubes and which yards had the controls (placebo).

However, there’s apparently no requirement from the EPA that Spartan Mosquito provide proof that the device kills mosquitoes when deployed outside. Which shocked me, to be honest. Here’s the wording from the EPA about what type of data are required:

I’m wondering, therefore, whether Spartan Mosquito submitted data from only laboratory experiments. One worry I have about laboratory experiments involving the Pro Tech is that boric acid evaporates. This means that mosquitoes trapped inside cages with Pro Techs might die at a faster rate simply because boric acid is in the air (inside the aquarium cage), not because any of the mosquitoes actually squeezed through holes in the caps and ingested the liquid. Another reason to avoid cage studies is that it might involve mosquitoes that are given only one source of sugar — this would inflate the number of mosquitoes entering the holes in the cap. In other words, in the real world (outside), mosquitoes might prefer to utilize nectar and rotting fruit in a yard instead of squeezing through small holes in a tube. Those are just two ways in which a laboratory experiment might produce a strong result that would mislead even the investigator.

Ultimately, I have no idea whether the experiments were conducted indoors or outside, had replication, or whether the design was double-blind as some states require. And there’s no way to confirm that laboratory that conducted the experiments used proper controls (a very common problem in science). If you have details, I’d love to hear from you.

Where to buy

The new device is likely to be a huge seller in states where the Spartan Eradicator can’t be sold (CA, CT, DC, ID, IN, ME, MT, NM, PR, SD, and UT). In fact, that might be the primary reason it is being marketed — to be able to sell in those 11 areas. Because the Pro Tech can be sold everywhere and consumers would need new ones every 30 days (more profit!), I suspect the company will stop making the Eradicator after this season. There’s a good chance it has already stopped. My prediction is that by July 2020 the company will announce, “Due to the overwhelmingly positive feedback from customers about the Pro Tech, we will stop selling the Spartan Mosquito Eradicator.” Or something like that. UPDATE: as of May 6 (maybe earlier) company has raised the price of a box of Spartan Mosquito Eradicators on Amazon from $25.94 to $34.95. I’m assuming this is part of strategy to push customers to the Pro Tech.

The company also has plans to sell the Pro Tech in Africa, apparently in areas hard hit by malaria. I believe it’s being marketed in Africa as the Spartan Mosquito Pro Tech Eradicator.

More information

Here’s Spartan Mosquito’s webpage on the Pro Tech. It currently doesn’t have any information on how the device works or how effective it is, but you can ask questions on the company’s Facebook page. The company tends to delete questions it deems as negative (within seconds, in fact), so keep them cheery.

I’m not aware of any third-party reviews of the Spartan Mosquito Pro Tech. You can always reach out to your local Extension Agent for advice on which mosquito-control technologies are recommended for the area you live in. Or contact Joe Conlon, the technical advisor at the American Mosquito Control Association.


Leave a comment below. Ask me anything.

Jeremy Hirsch, inventor of the Spartan Mosquito Eradicator

Spartan Mosquito v. Colin Purrington

AC2T, Inc, a Mississippi company valued at over $100 million, is suing me in Federal court over my review of the Spartan Mosquito Eradicator. The device is a plastic tube filled with sugar, salt, yeast, and water and is purported to act as an attractive toxic sugar bait. Box claims that device will eradicate (kill) approximately 95% of mosquitoes in a yard for 90 days — the company does not release efficacy data, but claims it possesses them. My opinion is that the devices don’t kill mosquitoes, and the above review explains my reasoning. The owners, Jeremy Hirsch and Chris Bonner of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, seem particularly upset that I shared my review with state pesticide officials as well as federal regulatory agencies (EPA, FTC). The suit was brought to bankrupt and silence me, so it’s a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation).

Here’s the first part of my motion to dismiss the lawsuit:

“In this lawsuit, Spartan seeks to use its superior financial resources to silence a former college professor who has been exercising his constitutional rights to petition his government and advocate on an important environmental and public health issue: the effectiveness of commercially available mosquito control devices. In Mr. Purrington’s opinion, based upon his personal evaluation of Spartan’s product and his scientific knowledge, Spartan has made false and misleading claims about the efficacy of its product, thereby violating federal environmental regulations and potentially endangering public health. Most of the statements that Spartan cites in the Complaint reflect Mr. Purrington’s efforts to reach federal and state officials with information about Spartan’s misleading and false claims concerning the efficacy of its product. The remaining statements reflect Mr. Purrington’s efforts to raise public awareness of the matters about which he is petitioning, describe his own opinions, or contain facts that Spartan does not, and cannot, deny are true. Applicable law does not provide Spartan with a valid claim against Mr. Purrington under those circumstances. Notably, even if Spartan could show that Mr. Purrington should be liable for his statements, Spartan fails to plead facts that would suggest it has incurred even a cent of damage to its business to justify its claims. That omission suggests that Spartan has sued merely to intimidate Mr. Purrington rather than to recover any demonstrable damage to its business. For those reasons, Mr. Purrington respectfully requests that the Court dismiss the Complaint in its entirety, with prejudice.”

The full brief is here (PDF).

Do other people think it’s a scam?

As of May 22nd, 2020, there are 509 1-, 2-, and 3-star reviews on Amazon. The word “scam” is used 35 times, though many other reviews seem to suggest the same. Here’s the full document (25 page PDF).

Want to help me?

  1. Contact the EPA and FTC. These agencies are busy and will only act if they hear from multiple consumers. During the Covid-19 lockdown this is especially true.
  2. Share my review on Facebook, Twitter, or Nextdoor. This company wants to silence me, so having that strategy backfire would bring me great satisfaction.
  3. Encourage the American Mosquito Control Association to post their findings on the device. AMCA’s lawyers are concerned about litigation and have blocked its Science Committee from disclosing results of its investigation.
  4. If you’re a pro at adding content to Wikipedia, please add the Spartan Mosquito Eradicator to the page on attractive toxic sugar baits or mosquito control.
  5. If you’re a reporter, please write a piece on this company. It’s the gem of Mississippi.

NB: The photograph at the top of the post is Jeremy Hirsch, the inventor of Spartan Mosquito Eradicator.

UPDATE: Spartan Mosquito, Jeremy Hirsch, and Bonner Analytical Testing Company are being sued in New York District Court for fraud. Here is the 16-page complaint.