Going Nuclear on Mosquitoes – Awesome Affordable DIY Sprayer System

For whatever reason, maybe the really wet Spring, the mosquitoes have been horrible this year. For the first month or two of the season I was trying to use my M4 sprayer to apply the Talstar P Pro insecticide to combat them but they were still coming. Seriously, in the past the M4 sprayer and Talstar were a powerful combo and all but eliminated the damn mosquitoes but not this year. We did not have any standing water and they seemed to be coming from all of the vegetation that I could not reach with the M4’s relatively small spray pattern and reach. I needed to up my game.

The My 4 Sons M4 sprayer had worked well but it could not reach out far enough and with enough droplets to be effective this year. I still use the unit for smaller areas but it is now largely replace by the unit I’ll tell you about in this post.

My First Choice: Get a Tomahawk Fogger

My first thought was to get one of the big Tomahawk backpack foggers. Those things are amazing and can project an atomized fog of Talstar 40 feet horizontally and 25 feet vertically. It’s really wicked and my buddy John has one that he bought off Amazon. He uses it on his property and loves it. I looked at it and the unit is remarkably well made.

There was only one thing that stopped me – the weight. It’s 38 pounds empty. The tank can hold 3.7 gallons of mixed Talstar and water at about 8.3 pounds per gallon, which comes to 30.7 pounds. Add the two together and you get 68 pounds. I knew there was no way my back would be able to handle that load. John’s in way better shape than me and admits it is a heavy load.

So, even though it works amazingly well, I had to pass on it due to the weight. I find I have to think about these things as I get older. In case you want to get one, here’s the listing on Amazon:

Needed to Find Another Solution

I started researching other sprayers and foggers and ran into an unanticipated problem. It turns out that tons of businesses and people are buying these foggers to apply disinfectants to sanitize surfaces in response to COVID-19. Either units weren’t available or the prices were jacked up – mostly they just weren’t available and I bet part of that is disruptions in the supply chain causing supply shortages as well.

Crap.

The Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Solution

The solution came from a surprising angle. I knew I needed a long reach and particles that could drift around. Literally, I woke up thinking of what might just work – have you ever used a power washer? They are essentially kicking out water under a ton of pressure using a tip at the end of the wand that adjusts the pattern. Therein was the idea. I need a something with pressure, was portable and would not cost a fortune and then luck entered the door.

This is the Ryobi RY120350 cleaner. The tip has three settings and I find 15 degrees to be best. The siphon hose has a quick connect that makes storing the unit easier. The One+ 18 volt battery is protected by a gasket sealed cover that snaps in place. I find I can almost spray 10 gallons before I need to swap batteries with a 4 AH battery. It can hold both the 6 and 9 AH batteries and they can do all 10 gallons.

At the beginning of the summer Home Depot and Ryobi announced the RY120350 Power Washer. It was a cordless power tool using one of ther 18-Volt One+ batteries. The pump could prime itself and could siphon water out of a bucket and spray 0.8 gallons per minute at 320PSI. I was hoping it would make it easier for my wife and I to wash cars and so forth without lugging out my big gas-powered 3,200 PSI pressure washer. Well, it turned out that the spray it generated was way too weak to do much of anything. By the way, I notice the listing now on HomeDepot.com says “Cold Water Cordless Power Cleaner” to probably admit it isn’t very strong. At any rate, it sat in the garage after initial testing for maybe 4-6 weeks but for whatever reason I held on to it.

Back to killing mosquitoes – I was thinking about how I could spray the Talstar out of a pressure washer pump and suddenly remembered the Ryobi unit and recalled it did kick out a better spray than the M4. I dug the Ryobi out, found the misplaced sprayer hose, set the sprayer tip to 15 degrees, dropped the siphon line into a pail of water, squeezed the trigger, let it prime and out came a great spray pattern!!!

It kicks out a really decent spray pattern at 15 degrees. I find the other two settings useless for this application – they are too weak.

Okay, the unit was never designed to be a insecticide sprayer and nobody has really used it for sanitizing because it is bulky and an odd configuration for that so guess what? It’s in-stock at most Home Depot stores and online for $79 + S&H — best of all, it kicks butt as a Talstar delivery system.

What did I do?

If you are concerned about the unit holding up, all I can tell you is so far so good. At $79, I’m really not worried about the unit wearing out. I have pumped at least 70 gallons of Talstar mix through the unit without any problem thus far but it did take some trial and error to get to where I am today.

So my first try was to drop the whole siphon unit into a 5 gallon bucket and moved it around by hand. Well, 5 gallons x 8.3 pounds per gallon comes in at 41.5 pounds and that got heavy plus it was sloshing around. I used a hole saw and put a hole in a lid with a rubber gasket and strapped it to a dolly. It still sloshed some out through the lid until the fluid level went down and the dolly made it way, way easier on my back. Some duct tape to cover the hole and seal around the hose solved that problem.

This is a 5-gallon Ace Hardware pail with a sealing lid strapped to an old dolly with a bungee cord. You can see all the long white siphon hose that comes with the Ryobi. You have a ton of tubing to work with. This worked better and when I sealed the top with duct tape it was solid but I wanted more capacity.
Safety Note
Insecticide is inherently toxic and you need to protect yourself. I wear gloves, usually a face mask (except for photos in this article), am very careful to watch the direction of the wind and take a shower with soap as soon as I am done. John, my buddy with the Tomahawk, wears painter’s Tyvek coveralls, goggles, rubber gloves and a respirator. John is taking the safest approach and what I want to stress to you is that you don’t want to coat yourself in this stuff as if it were water – it’s not. Follow the safety guidelines for whatever insecticide you decide to use and take precautions.

Coverage

So, the unit was proving itself but it was annoying to go refill the unit part way through the property. Our 1.5 acre lot is flat and bordered by a ton of brush and trees. I found that I could get really good coverage with 10 gallons of spray (1 oz Talstar to one gallon of water) and man could I nuke the brush and undergrowth. I could see the spray running off leaves and and stuff glistening wet.

Getting a Bigger and Better Tank

So, armed with the good results, I decided to get a 10 gallon tank. In searching online, it turns out there are a ton of vendors but only a few actual manufacturers. I went with a Act Roto-Mold model VT-10 10-gallon tank. I ordered it from Tank Depot and it arrived about a week and a half later.

By the way, the tank was $57.99 and shipping was $48.62! Ouch. None of the local farm stores had a tank that size in-stock otherwise I would have bought local. You can definitely just use a bucket if you want to — it worked fine for me in terms of reliability and performance. I just wanted to reduce the trips back to refill the tank.

In terms of weight, even though I was using a dolly, I didn’t want the unit to be a bear to pull. A 10 gallon tank weighs about 83 pounds when full. The dolly with a full 10-gallon tank is very “do-able” for me as I walk around the lawn pulling the unit.

Doing the Plumbing

One irritating thing was that the engineering drawings said there was a 3/4″ pipe fitting at the bottom. That fitting is actually 1″ so I had to return the PVC valve I bought and get the right size. Also, for whatever reason it is shipped lose. I had to tighten down the tank’s pipe fitting prior to installing the valve and other fittings.

Ryobi designed their hose nicely. It’s secured to the ends via fittings and it was very easy for me to remove their filter end and push it onto a 3/8″ barb fitting and secure it with a hose clamp. By the way, they do give you 20 feet of hose and I plan on going back and probably cutting it in half at some point. I velcro wrapped the extra to the dolly and it’s just way more than I think I need for this application. I’ll save the left-over of course just in case.

The Proline 107-135 is made from PVC and has 1″ female NPT fittings on both ends. It’s installed into the tank via a small male-to-male piece of PVC pipe. Bushings were used to step it down to a 3/8″ barb fitting that was used to connect to the supplied Ryobi siphon hose. It works great.
Note I turned the valve assembly to the side. As I pull the dolly along everything is at an angle so by having the outlet at the side more if the liquid can come out before sucking air. I did use a ratchet clamp to secure the tank to the dolly. It’s a lot of weight and I don’t want it shifting around on me. Quick comment – the Ryobi’s pump does need to prime so expect it to expel air until it draws liquid. Also, I used their same siphon hose to not constrain the pump.
It does a heck of a good job. Note I am spraying with the wind and letting it carry the droplets even further into the brush. Normally, I am wearing a face mask.
Let me show you a video of the spray pattern – it works great!!

Conclusion

Boy, am I happy with this set up. I spent about $300 on the sprayer, tank, strap and pipe fittings. The dolly is close to 20 years old so I am not counting that. I’ve put about 70 gallons of mix through the sprayer and used the tank system three times now. The combination of tank, dolly and Ryobi sprayer is fantastic and will be using it going forward.


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