Mosquito abatement is the practice of controlling or eliminating mosquitos to prevent the spread of disease. London Fog has been a leading manufacturing expert in mosquito abatement for over 55 years and a trusted partner for over 40 years.
London Fog tests, assembles, and provides quality control for all their equipment in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their products are used worldwide including; Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, and Central, South, and North America.
Luis Cajas, Customer Care Manager at Fluid Metering, sat down with Chris Norgren, President and CEO of London Fog, to understand the importance of fluidic pumps in mosquito abatement applications and common mistakes manufacturers make when building a new fogger.
The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Luis: Thank you for joining me today, Chris. Before we start, could you share who you are and what your company does?
Chris: We're a minority owned manufacturing company and our mission is to provide equipment to eradicate vectors of disease spread by adult mosquitoes, flies, and ticks. Common insects transmit diseases, including West Nile virus, Malaria, Encephalitis, and Zika. London Foggers, the brand name of our products, are used extensively by public health agencies and districts to control adult mosquitoes globally. We ship and have shipped to every continent except Antarctica. Why? Because you need two things to have mosquitoes: heat and water.
Luis: Can you speak about the types of customers who are purchasing London Foggers?
Chris: We primarily deal with two types of customers. First, are doctors of epidemiology and then we talk to ranchers, farmers and pesticide application professionals. Recently, we have seen an uptick in deer farmers, people who raise deer for hunting, because ticks and mosquitos affect the animals adversely. Our customers get a choice of price and size options for two types of foggers: ultra-low volume (ULV) or thermal fogging. For ULV, the goal is to have the least amount of chemical sprayed out of the fogger to kill the greatest number of pests. Thermal fogging is different because it uses a fuel tank to heat and vaporize a liquid insecticide and carrying agent into a mist that is then dispersed into the air.
Most of our business is from the truck mounted ultralow volume (ULV), sold to Municipalities. We also sell smaller machines for the back of ATV’s and golf carts that can be used by small parks, agriculture, ranches, and poultry farms. 50% of our business is domestic and 50% is International.
Luis: How do you explain the advantages of pump technology to your customers? I would think it’s as simple as the construction of the machine. London Fog uses the Q2CSY, a stainless-steel piston with a carbon liner and a stainless-steel casing connected to a 12 Volt DC motor.
Chris: The fogger is a simple machine with an engine, blower, and pump that is hooked up to a battery, it is incredibly important for the pump to be durable, repeatable, consistent, and accurate. That’s why we have worked with Fluid Metering to supply the pumps for decades. The pump is the heart of the fogger, not the brain, and if the heart dies, our clients would be in trouble. So, the construction has to remain simple because if the pump were to fail without an easy way to replace it, we wouldn’t have repeat business.
The pump is secured in a black box that is lockable, as waterproof as possible, and is typically found on the back of a pickup truck. The pumps have to be accessible if they are being used four to five hours a day, for five to six days a week. So, when it’s time to replace the pump, it’s as easy as popping out the old one and connecting the wires to the new one.
Luis: Do you have any valves inside the black box?
Chris: No, the pump box has no valves to regulate the pump since the flow rate is set. But there is a flush solenoid because after every spray cycle, customers are supposed to flush the pump. There is a product called Simple Green which is a detergent product that flushes out pesticides. Some chemical manufacturers may recommend flushing the pump with a solvent, either way we found both extends the life of the pump.
Luis: Do you see common mistakes from other manufacturers in your industry?
Chris: There are a few. The first common mistake is with pump selection for the fogger. Many manufacturers choose a pump that uses plastic parts instead of ceramic. Instead of replacing a pump once or twice within a fogger's lifespan, manufacturers will end up replacing a pump ten-times over because they associate a lower price with a cost-effective spray cycle. But what these manufacturers forget about is the key functionalities a pump should have: repeatability, accuracy, dependability, and consistency.
Second, manufacturers don’t focus on a droplet size delivery from the pump. If we think about an ULV scenario, we’re looking for the smallest particle to fly the farthest that kills the most bugs. Some manufacturers are dousing 40 to 60 ounces (about 2.37 L) per minute on a certain area with a fan to spread the pesticides. In this case, it’s difficult to kill adult mosquitos when the application is dousing and not getting to the exact location of where they are.
London Fog tests every machine with a droplet testing process for how the pump and nozzle interact. 90% of the droplets coming out of the nozzle must be 20 microns or less to pass and be categorized as ULV.
Luis: In addition, a third common mistake that we have talked about in the past is when foggers run dry because either someone didn’t check the levels of the fluid, or they accidentally left the fogger running. It’s one of the reasons why we recommended the Q2CSY.
In the second part of our conversation, Chris will discuss the fluids typically used in foggers and the potential future applications for mosquito abatement manufacturers.