In many ways, the intersection of entomology and marketing is the ultimate expression of “build a better mousebug trap.” Exhibit A: The Bug Banisher.
The Bug Banisher is absolute genius–if you want to rip people off using quantum new-agey BS. For only the low price of $59.95, you get:
“Chemical Free!” (except for the plastic chemicals it’s manufactured from, of course.)
“Requires no electrical outlet!” Because…it’s a lump of plastic. Well, to be specific, 4 little plastic lumps. With purple aluminum triangles glued on.
“Ants, cockroaches, mosquitoes, and flys [sic] find the barrier of Natural Energy intolerable.”
I love that Natural Energy is in Capitals.
I guess my problem is that I’ve been surrounded by UN-natural energy. That may explain a lot about me, actually.
How does it work?
From the product literature: “it produces a negative ion effect that sends insects packing…”
You see? Genius. Not “it produces negative ions”, which, of course, would be testable. And also would be completely impossible without any means of power supply. (Unless, of course, it was ionizing radiation. You can get ion release without a power source via radioactive decay. Which would make this a MUCH more exciting insect repellent!)
No, these little boxes produce an “ion effect.” From “Natural Energy.” None of which can be measured with conventional scientific instruments, of course. And the boxes have to be carefully aligned at proper 90 degree angles. Failure to exactly align the boxes will result in the ion effect not….um, effecting, and thus poor insect control.
Even better, when you examine the patent for this device, you see that the inventor does not, himself, actually understand how it all works:
“the surface crystal structure of the plates is believed to generate magnetic fields and negative ion fields and apparently the negative ion fields disturb and repel insect pests from the area.”
I am hoping that some of my physics friends will provide an explanation for f-ing magnetic fields, how do they work? relevant to this particular usage.
But, Gosh! It has an EPA Est. number!
Indeed it does. It’s prominently displayed on most of the Bug Banisher materials, in fact. And that means that the inventor filed paperwork, as he is required to by law. An EPA Establishment number provides information on where something is manufactured–in this case, it’s a Michigan zip code. Looks mighty official. Means Nil in terms of the efficacy or safety of the product.
And your point is….?
Why am I bothering to debunk what is obviously bogus? Because it appears it’s being marketed to SCHOOLS. Yikes.
The fellow that wrote this “Encyclopedia of Integrated Pest Management” which contains recommendations for school IPM manages to combines some good information with utter BS and drek–like the Bug Banisher.
As our society grows more chemophobic, we also want our solutions fast and easy. We want our food sterile, our houses pest free, and we want all of this without any use of synthetic chemicals and at a low cost.
This is a situation which opens the doors to fraudsters, but also offers opportunities for change. It’s good to seek alternatives to toxics–but you also need to use your common sense. Basic physical principles of matter don’t change just because something is purple and shaped like a triangle.
Bonus Hilarity: Accept no substitutes! Other people make purple ion effect generating thingies! But they aren’t the same!