Do electronic and ultrasonic pest repellers work?

December 23, 2014

They may sound like the answer to your prayers if you’re battling an insect or rodent infestation, but do electronic and ultrasonic pest repellers work?

Do electronic and ultrasonic pest repellers work?

What are electronic and ultrasonic pest repellers?

In a nutshell, they're devices that claim to repel insects, spiders, and rodents either by emitting an ultrasonic or a very high-pitched sound, or by producing an electromagnetic field. The basic premise is that high energy waves can help rid your property of various pests, from cockroaches to mice. Because the devices are believed to cause confusion among their targets, preventing them from gathering food, building nests and breeding, the idea is that they eventually flee.

But do they work?

If electronic and ultrasonic pest repellers sound too good to be true, it’s probably because they are. In fact, their effectiveness has been disputed by testing labs and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Other studies have had mixed results. One extensive test performed by Kansas State University in 2002 found that the devices were effective at repelling some insects, such as crickets, but had little impact on cockroaches, ants or spiders. And pests that were initially bothered eventually became immune to the noise.

Safety concerns have been noted as well. Some users have reported that the sound can interfere with telephone conversations, burglar alarm systems and hearing aids. The noise may also irritate rabbits and rodent pets, such as guinea pigs and hamsters.

If you use one, don’t use it alone

If you're sold on a pest repeller, don’t rely on it as your only solution. The Government of Canada suggests the following tips for pest control:

Stay clean: Clean up spills immediately, and don’t let the dishes pile up.

Feed pets on demand: Avoid putting pet water and food out all day and night.

Keep food sealed: Opt for plastic or glass containers rather than paper or cardboard boxes.

Store your garbage carefully: Keep garbage sealed well and dispose of it as soon as possible.

Choose traps: Snap traps and electronic traps are easy to use and can be very effective.

According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, your best bet is to get a qualified inspector when dealing with an infestation problem. They should be able to determine which pest is the culprit and the most safe and effective way to repel them — in other words, a solution that really works.

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