Backyard Mosquito Misting Systems Use False Advertising
FTC Complaint Targets Dangerously Deceptive Claims of Safety and Efficacy
Washington, DC — Automatic pesticide misting systems marketed to homeowners use false claims about their safety and effectiveness, according to a complaint filed today with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The complaint takes aim at advertising touting misting systems’ ability to kill mosquitos and ticks, as well as assurances that the insecticides used are safe.
Marketed under brand names such as Skeeter Beaters, MistAway and Mosquito Nix, outdoor residential mosquito misting systems spray insecticides through mounted nozzles. Whether spraying at timed intervals or manually, each has a set of tanks to hold a pesticide mixture which is most often pyrethrin or synthetic pyrethroid insecticides to kill the mosquitoes.
The PEER complaint details false and deceptive claims by these companies to consumers that –
- Mosquito misters are effective at controlling mosquito populations. In fact, the American Mosquito Control Association, a leader in mosquito research and education, disputes that claim. In addition, misting systems can also kill other insect populations that assist in controlling mosquito populations, therefore allowing mosquito populations to grow;
- Misters kill ticks. While the insecticides used can repel ticks, they are recommended for use only on shoes, camping gear and clothing. There is no evidence they control tick populations; and
- The chemicals used by the misting systems are “safe” and “natural.” Yet these toxic agents are labeled as likely human carcinogens while the fine print safety instructions warn not to spray when people, pets, or food are present.
“These companies are leading unsuspecting consumers to spray their homes and families with toxic, carcinogenic chemicals,” stated New England PEER Director Kyla Bennett, a scientist and attorney formerly with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Playing on misinformation, this deceptive advertising puts the health and safety of consumers, their families, neighbors and pets at risk.”
A major concern raised by the PEER complaint is the dangerously false sense of security given consumers by specious claims that the systems work well enough that personal repellants are unnecessary (“You’ll never again have to spray your kids with nasty repellents”). Since mosquito misting systems are ineffective at killing mosquitoes or ticks, the systems do not eliminate the need to use personal protection against mosquitoes, other biting insects, and arachnids.
“People who buy these systems to protect themselves and families from mosquito or tick-borne illnesses, such West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease, may be putting themselves more at risk of contracting precisely what they are trying to avoid,” added Bennett, noting that PEER is asking the FTC to stop unlawfully deceptive commercial practices. “These products prey on people’s fears and may imperil more than their pocketbooks.”