Cartoon Bug-Sprayer

Cartoon characters still use old-fashioned "flit gun" bug sprayers, in much the same way they still use Cartoon Bombs, Plunger Detonators, and Big Electric Switches.

Flit guns were in common use from about the late 1920s until the mid-1950s, which coincides almost exactly with The Golden Age of Animation. While Golden Age cartoons with flit guns are just reflecting contemporary technology, it's their use of such devices which established flit guns as the Universal Cartoon Symbol for Bug Sprayer and they've remained so long after the technology became obsolete in the real world.


  • The name "flit gun" is a Brand Name Takeover, referring to the insecticide company Flit. Flit rose to prominence in the early 20th century due to a highly successful marketing campaign. The campaign used humorous cartoons, drawn by none other than a pre-fame Dr. Seuss, and spawned a popular Catch Phrase, "Quick, Henry, the Flit!" So successful was the campaign that, at one time, crop dusters were nicknamed "flying flit guns".

Comic Books
  • Tintin: The Calculus Affair has Tintin and Captain Haddock cross a mosquito-infested lake, with Haddock wielding one of these to little effect. Then he hears a particularly loud buzz, looks for the Giant Mook... and sees a helicopter instead.

  • In The Wizard of Oz, the Cowardly Lion arms himself against the Wicked Witch with one.
  • In Animal Crackers, Harpo uses one at the end of the movie. It knocks everyone out, including himself.
  • In Labyrinth, Hoggle uses one of these against flying fairies.
  • Used by Don Corleone's grandson in The Godfather.


Live-Action TV

Real Life
  • You can still find these in Ace and True Value hardware stores, but they're quite obscure.

Video Games
  • The 2002 remake of Resident Evil requires you to use one on the massive hornet's nest before grabbing the key beneath it.
  • This is what your character uses in Donkey Kong 3, and in the Game & Watch game Greenhouse.
    • Mr. Game and Watch went on to use the same bug sprayer for one of his attacks in the Super Smash Bros. series.
  • Lots of time management games that involve either farming or flower growing will invoke this trope when fighting off bugs. There are a bunch of them on Big Fish Games.
  • In Legend of the Crystal Skull, Nancy Drew must use one of these against wasps to gain access to a tree's fruit.
  • Blood 2: The Chosen features one of these as a weapon, with a lit Zippo lighter attached to the top - primary fire shoots out extremely-acidic bug spray, secondary turns it upside-down to use it in the same manner as an Aerosol Flamethrower.

Web Comic

Western Animation

Alternative Title(s):

Flit Gun