Hattiesburg man invents product to control mosquitoes

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A Hattiesburg man has invented a $20 product he says eradicates mosquitoes for 90 days.

Jeremy Hirsch, president and co-founder of Hattiesburg-based Spartan Mosquito, said the product has been in the works for almost four years.

"Up to this point, all mosquito control measures were kind of a prophylactic, if you will," Hirsch said. "They didn't really kill the mosquito, so we took what they were doing in Africa, experimentations and things that had been used. We kind of improved upon that over the last three and a half years, and we came up with something that's very simple, very easy to use."

Spartan Mosquito eradicators are tubes sold in sets of two for about $20. Hirsch said the ingredients inside are like a sugar cookie, without the flour.

"All you have to do is fill it up with water to here," Hirsch said demonstrating. "You put a cap on. You hang it in a tree, and you don't have any mosquitoes for 90 days."

Hirsch said the water starts a chemical reaction inside the tube that releases carbon dioxide to mimic a human or an animal breathing. That reaction, the sugar and the dark color of the tube attracts the mosquitoes. Two tubes cover a square acre of land for about three months before they need to be replaced.

"We tested it from the Atlantic to the Pacific and beyond," Hirsch said. "From the marshes in Florida to the bayous in Louisiana, and everywhere we test, it works phenomenal."

It's already been effective in one Pine Belt County. When Lamar County reported a Zika case last year, officials contacted Spartan Mosquito.

"They actually put up the mosquito bombs around the perimeter where the virus was identified," said Jody Waits, Lamar County administrator. "When we first went on site, we did a count that showed it was a landing rate that was high. I mean, you could sit there and just swat the mosquitoes away. Within two weeks, there was virtually no mosquitoes, so we found it worked very well."

Hirsch said, "The initial count at the Zika site was 27 when we responded, and two weeks later, that count was zero. It remained at zero for the following three months, and, to date, that's the most successful response to Zika anywhere in the world on record."

Hirsch said his biggest hurdle has been skepticism, and even Waits had his doubts until he saw the results.

"What they said worked, and if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed it," Waits said. "You know, mosquitoes around here are pretty bad. I've bought two. They're in my yard right now, and we virtually have no problem."

Lamar County has a contract to purchase additional tubes because the first set worked so well.

"Going forward, we have an order pending them," Waits said. "They're finalizing some EPA stuff that they need. Once they get that finished, which I think that's been done this week, we're going to put them at our ball fields and parks within the county because it really was rather amazing what it did."

Hirsch said users should place the mosquito bombs on the edges of their property, so mosquitoes aren't being attracted and swarming to an area near people.

"Anyone can use this from municipalities to governments to parks to homes, and residential is really what we care about the most," Hirsch said. "It's really nice that we can partake at a government level, but it was founded to keep my family safe. The point of this is to keep everybody's family safe."

Right now, the company is able to sell the mosquito bombs in nine states and Puerto Rico. Hirsch said the product could be available for online purchase in Mississippi as early as Monday.