Tag Archives: mosquito control

Spartan Mosquito v. Colin Purrington

I am being sued by Spartan Mosquito

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:

Jeremy Hirsch, inventor of the Spartan Mosquito Eradicator
Jeremy Hirsch, inventor of the Spartan Mosquito Eradicator

And here are some pages from a marketing brochure they send to retailers. Click to enlarge.

Negative reviews

I’m not the only person doubting the efficacy of the Spartan Mosquito Eradicator. Here’s one a full year before my review:

There are also hundreds of people leaving 1-star reviews on Amazon. I don’t think the company is suing any of them. My favorite 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.

Health claims

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.

Before suing me, Spartan Mosquito completely redid its website and purged videos and posts from its Facebook page, so a lot of overt health claims are now gone. Nevertheless, it’s important to note that retailers around the country still regularly tell customers that the device can protect against mosquito diseases. One example is Hub City West Farm & Garden in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, the hometown of the Spartan Mosquito. The store produced a video in which they claim Spartan Mosquito Eradicators have been “proven to be the best defense” against mosquito-borne diseases. They are even using Covid-19 to boost sales right now.

Side note: the above video has been shared by Josephine Hood-Hirsch, wife of Jeremy Hirsch (the inventor and owner). And by Karen Bonner (wife of Chris Bonner, co-owner). Karen Bonner is also the Secretary of Spartan Mosquito. I.e., people with a financial interest in Spartan Mosquito Eradicator sales are promoting a post that makes clear health claims. My prediction is that they will remove or hide their shares eventually.

The belief that Spartan Mosquito Eradicators can protect against disease is entrenched in the minds of retailers because the marketing materials̵ specifically mention it. The document also name-drops the CDC and WHO, subtly implying to hardware-store owners that these organizations have somehow endorsed the contraption.

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 the registration but the company tends to be sluggish about updating the shipping restrictions on Amazon.

Current mysteries

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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??
  5. Is Spartan Mosquito suing Tall Brothers LLC over the Donaldson Farm Mosquito Eliminator? E.g., for patent infringement and plagiarism (they even invoke Zika).
  6. 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?
  7. 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.
  8. How many Spartan Mosquito Eradicators are deployed at the owners’ estates?
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. I also don’t know the status of the class action suit against AC2T. Am rather curious.
  13. 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 did a thorough investigation of the contraption.

DIY trap to kill pregnant mosquitoes

This post contains photographs and construction tips for a killer craft I made: an autocidal gravid ovitrap. Pregnant females enter the trap, lay some eggs on or near the stagnant water within, then are prevented from exiting and die. Their progeny also die because a screen at water level prevents larvae from reaching the surface to obtain oxygen. When similar traps have been deployed they bring down mosquito levels substantially and thus are quickly becoming one of the main ways to prevent mosquito outbreaks and disease. Every homeowner should have six. They’d make wonderful gifts.

Autocidal gravid ovitrapThe design features a clear dome that helps trap the females when they are done ovipositing (they go for the light), plus a completely unneeded observation window so I can watch the larvae and pupae (fun for the whole family, plus good for demonstration purposes). It borrows general methodology from gravid Aedes traps (GATs) designed by Dr Scott Richie (James Cook University) and colleagues that recently made news on NPR (here’s an overview; here’s their paywalled journal article). I’ve designed mine to capture species that also lay egg rafts, so it’s not just a GAT. My design doesn’t use insecticide because I wanted the odor of developing larvae to be an attractant to other females (it is, by the way).

What you need

  • Autocidal gravid ovitrap2-gallon bucket
  • bucket lid
  • 6″ plastic pot
  • clear dome from cake store
  • metal coat hanger
  • plastic screening
  • stapler
  • 3 paperclips
  • small neodymium magnet
  • silicone adhesive glue
  • duck tape
  • hardware cloth
  • 1-L soda bottle
  • 1/4″ foam weatherstripping
  • black spray paint
  • Dremel tool with cutting bit
  • drill with drill bit
  • knife
  • safety glasses (when Dremeling)

Construction photographs

If you’d like to see photographs larger just click on first image and navigate like a slide show. There are many ways to construct these so if you build one and it looks completely different, don’t worry. This is because if your device is the only stagnant water around, females will use it.

I’ve only just deployed it and it’s rather cold right now so I don’t have any victims yet. But I’m optimistic and am posting now with the hope that somebody will have suggestions on how to improve the design (I’m making more). One improvement I’m definitely going to make is to drop the funnel lower into the dome so it’s harder for females to accidentally fly straight up to escape. And pro-tip if you make the above: attach the lid to pail when spray painting to avoid unwanted buildup where they attach.

I’m also posting in the off chance that a biology teacher might take an interest. Having teams make these would be really fun and then they could deploy them in the woods near the school: bonus points for team that traps the most mosquitoes. It’s fun like the classic egg-drop lab in physics except useful. Students would then take their projects home where they’d continue to be useful. Would make for a great Girl Scout Gold Award / Eagle Scout project.

Other DIY designs

Where to buy

If all of the above sounds like way too much work you can buy traps from SpringstarBioQuip, and Ultimate Mosquito Traps.

Useful articles

Barrera, R., A.J. Mackay, and M. Amador. 2013. A novel autocidal ovitrap for the surveillance and control of Aedes aegyptiJournal of the American Mosquito Control Association, 29:293-296.

Maciel-de-Freitas R., R.C. Peres, F. Alves, M.B. Brandolini. 2008. Mosquito traps designed to capture Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae) females: preliminary comparison of Adultrap, MosquiTRAP and backpack aspirator efficiency in a dengue-endemic area of Brazil. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 103: 602-605.

Mackay, A.J., M. Amador, and R. Barrera. 2013. An improved autocidal gravid ovitrap for the control and surveillance of Aedes aegypti. Parasites and Vectors 6:225.

Maire, A. 1985. Effect of axenic larvae on the oviposition site selection by Aedes atropalpus. J. Am. Mosq. Control Assoc. 1:320-323.

Paz-Soldan et. al. 2016 Design and testing of novel lethal ovitrap to reduce populations of Aedes mosquitoes: community-based participatory research between industry, academia and communities in Peru and Thailand. PLoS One 11:8.