Tag Archives: water

Posts about Spartan Mosquito

Here are all my posts that mention the Spartan Mosquito Eradicator or the Spartan Mosquito Pro Tech.

  1. Spartan Mosquito Eradicator (review)
  2. 15 mosquito-control strategies that don’t work
  3. Spartan Mosquito v. Colin Purrington
  4. Spartan Mosquito Pro Tech
  5. Class action suit over Spartan Mosquito Eradicators
  6. Scientists find that Spartan Mosquito Eradicators don’t work
  7. Yeast-based mosquito control devices
  8. Does the Spartan Mosquito Pro Tech attract mosquitoes?
  9. Spartan Mosquito Eradicator vs Spartan Mosquito Pro Tech

The company is suing me for my 2019 review (#1). If they hadn’t sued me I likely would have only a single post about the company, which very few people would ever read. But I don’t like bullies and I don’t think large companies should be allowed to use lawsuits to silence critics, so I added more! Please share my reviews on Facebook.

Journalist?

There’s likely a fun story here. Owner of sandwich franchise becomes head of $100 million company that sells tubes of sugar water to kill mosquitoes. Here’s his original pitch:

“We’ve come up with the most economical, easiest, most effective mosquito-control measure pretty much in the world” — Jeremy Hirsch, inventor of the Spartan Mosquito Eradicator (source)

Then he lashes out with SLAPP when naturalist/blogger from Pennsylvania (me) points out the obvious that device is a complete scam. Company then hires the lobbying firm behind Brexit to get a “new and improved” tube approved by EPA (see #4). And it’s not over: in 2021 the class-action lawsuit (see #5) will likely subtract $5 million from Spartan Mosquito’s coffers, not counting the legal fees. Will the FTC get involved like it has for other mosquito-control scams? Does the EPA care it’s been snookered?

Contact me for more details. There’s also extensive coverage of Spartan Mosquito on Twitter (99% of it from me). And the American Mosquito Control Association‘s Science and Technology Committee prepared an extensive report on the company and its devices.

To get a quick feel for the inventors and founders of Spartan Mosquito, here’s a Twitter thread featuring Jeremy Hirsch and Chris Bonner.

Spartan Mosquito Pro Tech in a tree

Does the Spartan Mosquito Pro Tech attract mosquitoes?

This post evaluates the claim on the label, “mosquitoes will gather near them”. Per the company, it is the first step in how the device kills mosquitoes. I.e., the device needs to attract mosquitoes if it is going to work.

mosquitoes will gather

Evaluating the claim

I used a security camera to record activity around the cap area. Here’s a photograph of how I arranged everything:

Spartan Mosquito Pro Tech with security camera

Below is a 15-second time-lapse to show that small insects such as ants were easily visible, even at night. I think they are Prenolepis imparis, which are 3-4 mm long —mosquitoes are larger and thus would be detectable even in flight.

On the day that began filming (September 2nd, 2020) I counted over a dozen mosquitoes (all Aedes albopictus) landing on my arms and legs within 30 seconds. According to the instruction sheet, the device begins to work instantly, as soon as water is added, so an hour of remote, video observation should be a sufficient amount of time to evaluate the attraction claim.

Spartan Mosquito Pro Tech begins working instantly

I collected continuous footage for over a week, ending observations on September 10th. The mosquitoes were still plentiful on that day.

Results

During 183 hours of footage, I couldn’t find a single mosquito on or near the device. Here are the contents. I also posted a photograph to iNaturalist.

Conclusion

Because the Spartan Mosquito Pro Tech did not attract any mosquitoes, it therefore did not kill any mosquitoes. If my results are generalizable to other yards, the device is worthless as mechanism of mosquito control.

It is noteworthy, I think, that Spartan Mosquito has not made public a single video of mosquitoes gathering around a Pro Tech (or an Eradicator) when it is deployed outside. My guess is that the company has tried many times to get such footage but has not succeeded in attracting a mosquito. It will be interesting to know whether they will be compelled to disclose their efforts in a court of law. I.e., because the company has formally claimed to the EPA that “mosquitoes will gather” around the Pro Tech, the company would be in substantial legal jeopardy if that statement turned out to be false. If that’s what is going on then it seems likely that the EPA Enforcement Office might coordinate with the FTC as well.

Footage

In case anyone might be skeptical of my results, I decided to upload all 183 hours of footage onto YouTube. I had to break it into 16 segments due to size limits on YouTube.

Yeast-based mosquito-control scams

Yeast-based mosquito control devices

In the United States, seven companies are selling tubes filled with water, sugar, and yeast for mosquito control, all likely inspired by the “DIY mosquito trap from a soda bottle” that went viral years ago but still circulates on Pinterest and Facebook (and which doesn’t work). This blog post summarizes the nine and ends with a section on whether they work.

The marketing pitch is that mosquitoes will be drawn to the devices by carbon dioxide (produced from yeast consuming the sugar), enter the device through tiny holes at the top, ingest some of the fluid inside, squeeze back out of the tube through the same holes, and then die due to the effects of a chemical (table salt, boric acid, garlic oil, etc.) dissolved in the fluid. Some of the companies claim their tubes will completely rid a yard of mosquitoes for months.

1. Spartan Mosquito Eradicator

First sold in 2016 as the Spartan Mosquito Bomb, the company says these tubes will eradicate mosquito populations for up to 90 days. The active ingredient is table salt. Company is based in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and was founded by Jeremy Hirsch (a Which Wich? Superior Sandwiches franchisee) and Chris Bonner (works at father’s chemical testing company). Here’s an ad. Here’s another. Here’s my 2019 review of the tube. The tube is now the focus of $5 million lawsuit. Company says it does $100 million in sales.

Spartan Mosquito Eradicator

2. Sock-It Skeeter

Produced by the same company (AC2T, Inc.) that makes the Spartan Mosquito Eradicator. Here is a commercial about the device. I don’t think this is sold anymore.

Sock-It Skeeter

3. Donaldson Farms Mosquito Eliminator

Marketed as capable of eradicating mosquitoes for 90 days. Owners say that it has “more potent attractants in the lure for the traps than Spartan”. Company is based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and owned by Jeff Clowdus (owner of JCL Tech LED lighting) and his brother Tim.

Donaldson Farms Mosquito Eliminator

4. Mosquito XT

Company is based in Paragould, Arkansas, and owned by Kevin King, an insurance broker. Unlike all the other companies, Mr King wisely makes “makes no claims regarding the efficiency [sic] of use”.

Mosquito XT

5. Spartan Mosquito Pro Tech

This device is the same as the Spartan Mosquito Eradicator except that boric acid replaces table salt as the listed active ingredient. Company claims it kills mosquitoes for 30 days. Here are some ads. Despite claims, the device doesn’t appear to attract mosquitoes. Here’s a comparison of the Pro Tech and the Eradicator.

Spartan Mosquito Pro Tech

6. Skeeter Eater

Company says it eradicates mosquitoes for 90 days. Distributed by Copia Products (a manufacturer of baby products) in Memphis Tennessee and is owned by Wade Whitely. Made in Columbia.

Skeeter Eater

7. Skeeter Hawk Backyard Bait Station

Label lists garlic oil as the active ingredient. Described in ads as “highly effective” and providing “chemical free”, “round the clock”, “full-perimeter protection”. Company is part of Alliance Sports Group based in Grand Prairie, Texas. Owned by Larry Easterwood and family. My favorite line from a user’s review: “The light is a nice reminder it’s working.”

Skeeter Hawk Backyard Bait Station

8. Mosquito Dynamiter

Company claims the device will eradicate up to 95% of mosquitoes for up to 90 days. Says mosquitoes “literally explode”. Device appears to be just a black version of its Wasp & Bee Sugar Trap. Made by Vic West Brands based in Austin, Texas, and owned by Nick Olynyk, an expert on junior hockey. Here’s an ad.

Grandpa Gus's Mosquito Dynamiter

9. Mosquito TNT

This appears to be identical to the Mosquito Dynamiter but features a new sticker and a new color (red) for the holes through which the mosquitoes are supposed to enter and exit. Marketed by Tougher Than Tom, which seems to be a front for Simply Strive, a promotional company owned by Zachary Collins. Marketed to the Caucasian, Whole Foods demographic (per the casting call for the commercial shoot). Here’s an ad.

Do any of these devices eradicate mosquitoes?

Unlikely. For example, when scientists tested the Spartan Mosquito Eradicator, they concluded the device did not work. It’s worth noting that none of the companies has released any efficacy data, with the exception of Spartan Mosquito which displays a graph on the box. Similarly, none of the companies has posted video evidence of mosquitoes being attracted to their devices when deployed in a yard. Instead, companies tend to use cartoon animations to convey how the devices should work.

Why are these companies allowed to sell these devices?

Given that these devices don’t seem to kill mosquitoes, one would expect that, eventually, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the Federal Trade Commission would shut them down.

For example, the EPA has rules about the claims that pesticide companies can make. One rule is that a company is not permitted to use a product name that itself conveys an exaggerated or false claim (such as “Eradicator”). Another is that companies are not permitted to make false claims (such as “mosquitoes will explode”).

It’s especially curious why the EPA has not yet commenced enforcement actions on these companies given that its rules apply more strictly to products that claim to kill an organism, like mosquitoes, that can transmit disease-causing organisms (West Nile virus, Zika virus, etc.) to humans. This heightened concern is because consumers might rely (unwisely) on a device for protection from mosquito-borne diseases but end up at higher risk because the devices are ineffective. It’s the equivalent of selling bomb-detecting divining rods — people get blown up because gullible people are conned.

I’ve alerted the EPA about these companies, but it seems possible that the agency will only bring enforcement action if enough (influential?) people send complaints. So click here and make one. It would also help if people posted on Twitter and mentioned @EPAJustice as well as their state’s department of agriculture account.

The fastest way to get the EPA to act, however, would be for a science journalist at the Washington Post, New York Times, or NPR to cover them. In my opinion, the public would be very interested in a story about exploding mosquitoes, especially during mosquito season.

Please consider sharing this post to get the word out.