A Flit gun is a hand-pumped insecticide sprayer used to dispense Flit, a brand-name insecticide widely used against flies and mosquitoes between 1928 and the mid-1950s. Although named after the well-known brand, "Flit gun" became a generic name for this type of dispenser.
A Flit gun consists of a pneumatic tube with a hand-operated plunger to force air through an air nozzle in the front. Below the front of the pneumatic tube is a secondary tubular container designed to hold a liquid insecticide, this reservoir set at 90 degrees to the pneumatic tube. The insecticide reservoir traditionally has a screw-cap for pouring additional insecticide into the container, plus an internal hose that feeds from the fluid reservoir up to a tip placed just forward of the air nozzle of the pneumatic tube. This arrangement mists or atomizes the insecticide into a spray when the pneumatic tube handle is pumped, without the requirement for any compressed propellants to be stored. The basic pneumatic tube portion is similar in operation to a Super Soaker or a hand-powered grease gun, but propelling air rather than water or grease.
In popular culture
- Once commonly found in households, hand-operated Flit guns have been replaced by aerosol spray cans and fallen out of common use.
- The design was originally created for rural outdoor use in the early 20th century, and is rarely seen anymore, aside from in reruns of pre-World War II cartoons and a few early movies.
- Flit guns are also mentioned in C. W. McCall's song "Crispy Critters".
- In the final scene of the Marx Brothers comedy Animal Crackers (1930), Harpo is seen using a Flit gun to pacify an entire crowd, finally spraying Groucho, who falls unconscious to the ground. The current prints of the film have the "Flit" name blotted out, since Paramount Pictures didn't get permission to use the trademarked name.