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 owners, Jeremy Hirsch and Chris Bonner of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, seem particularly upset that I have been in contact 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 14-page brief (PDF) submitted along with a motion to dismiss.
What is the Spartan Mosquito Eradicator?
Jeremy Hirsch, the inventor, explains:
I’m not the only person doubting the efficacy of the Spartan Mosquito Eradicator. For example, see the 1-star reviews on Amazon. There are currently 327 of them. Actually, if you include the reviews for different package combinations as well as 2-star reviews, there are over a thousand rather negative reviews. I don’t think the company is suing any of them. My favorite 1-star review is this one, presumably written when the company was still selling the boric acid version (which was never registered with the EPA):
And below is my favorite 5-star review. My God, Tammy just nails it.
One issue that comes up in my review is health claims the company and its distributors make about the device. For example, the company claims its device was critical in controling a Zika outbreak. The claim is also featured in this clip from WDAM. And also in this ad that says, “Purchase The Spartan Mosquito Bomb and Fight the Zika Virus!“
Do consumers actually believe they can protect themselves from Zika by deploying Spartan Mosquito Eradicators? Yes. If you doubt me, please watch Jennifer Lynn’s Facebook video (March 14, 2020). At approximately 4 mins into the video she explains she first bought them to protect herself from Zika.
And here’s a 2-min interview in which Jeremy Hirsch discusses the Spartan Mosquito Eradicator and fighting malaria in Africa:
Just to clarify, surrounding your property with Spartan Mosquito Eradicators doesn’t cause disease. But relying on them instead of using DEET (e.g.) can up your chances of getting a disease. It’s just simple probability. If you are outside and get bit by a disease-carrying mosquito, you’re going to get the disease; whereas neighbors who are using DEET won’t. This concern is why the Mosquito Illness Alliance (also based in Mississippi) has been warning consumers for years not to rely on Spartan Mosquito Eradicators. I.e., even before I reviewed the device, a non-profit devoted to mosquito diseases had realized that Spartan Mosquito Eradicators were a scam.
Where can the device be legally sold?
Per the company’s Amazon page, the device cannot be shipped to Connecticut, Montana, Idaho, Indiana, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, D.C., and Puerto Rico. I think other states may have declined to renew registrations, but the company tends to be sluggish about updating the shipping restrictions on Amazon.
- What happens to the hundreds of thousands of Spartan Mosquito Eradicators in states that can longer legally sell them? E.g., in Indiana, Utah, Montana, Puerto Rico, Maine, Kansas — all places that banned them after stores received their 2020 shipments. Do store owners have to eat that cost or will Spartan Mosquito HQ buy them back? I hope the latter happens.
- I don’t know the status of Spartan Mosquito’s efforts to market the device in malarial Africa. Here’s the company’s PR release on that. I would love to know more.
- Is there any scenario under which the scientists (e.g.) who conducted experiments for Spartan Mosquito could be released from their non-disclosure agreements? I’d love to see the data that are not being disclosed.
- Did Spartan Mosquito ever sell the Spartan Mosquito Eradicator when it contained boric acid? E.g., the 1-star review (above) suggests the company sold it on Amazon. Was it fined by EPA for distributing an unregistered pesticide? If it wasn’t fined, why not??
- Is Spartan Mosquito suing Tall Brothers LLC over the Donaldson Farm Mosquito Eliminator? E.g., for patent infringement and plagiarism (they even invoke Zika).
- Did the city of Hattiesburg (home to Spartan Mosquito and owners) ever buy the devices for use on town property? It was heavily pitched. If not, why?
- Did owners ever use the fancy CO2 monitor at Bonner Analytical Testing to measure the CO2 production of device over the course of 90 days? I’d love to see that graph, if they did.
- How many Spartan Mosquito Eradicators are deployed at the owners’ estates?
- Why hasn’t the Mississippi Bureau of Plant Industry requested efficacy data from Spartan Mosquito? Per BPI’s own rules it is required: “Efficacy data are required to support label claims for FIFRA Section 25(b) products.” The label (box) claims that the device eradicates a mosquito population for 90 days.
- I’d love to know whether the graph on the box displays actual data. The graph was likely crafted sometime in 2016 or early 2017. If data were used to generate the graph they would have to be from 2016 mosquito season.
- Did anyone enter Spartan Mosquito’s $500,000 competition? Video challenge here, details here. Everyone guessed it was a PR stunt and that company would never pay out, but maybe they did.
- I also don’t know the status of the class action suit against AC2T. Am rather curious.
- Why did Jeremy Hirsch (Spartan Mosquito co-owner), Chris Bonner (Spartan Mosquito co-owner), Karen Bonner (Spartan Mosquito Secretary), Christopher Spence (Spartan Mosquito CEO), and Anthony Brett Conerly (Spartan Mosquito President) — all residents of Hattiesburg, Mississippi — donate $2,500 each to support Eddie Rispone’s campaign for governor of Louisiana? Did the top five executives at Spartan Mosquito all know him? Why go through the bother of 5 separate donations when Spartan Mosquito could just send a single check $12,500?
Want to help me?
- If you know of a national organization devoted to mosquito control, please nudge them to post their findings on the device. E.g., on a FAQ devoted to such things.
- If you have influential friends at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Reports, or Truth in Advertising, I’d be grateful if you’d ask them to go public now rather than later.
- If you know the Attorney General of either Mississippi or Pennsylvania, I’d be grateful for an online introduction. I’ve met Mr Shapiro at a fundraiser, but I’m not sure he remembers me.
- In case you’d like to support me on Twitter, here’s my post.
- If you’re a reporter interested in writing something, please do! And please also get in touch with the good folks at Mosquito Illness Alliance, also based in Mississippi. Also definitely get in touch with the American Mosquito Control Association. Spartan Mosquito rented a vendor booth at its national meeting one year, so the association is familiar with the device and the claims. The AMCA’s Science Committee even did a full investigation of the contraption.