Does ultrasonic pest control devices work on mosquitoes, rodents, ants, ticks & fleas? Here is everything you need to know about ultrasonic repellers.
Pests are a huge nuisance both in the home and around it, and from time immemorial, people have been fighting to get rid of these pesky little creatures without harming their environments, or even themselves. Removing pests from lawns, garages, and property is an ongoing battle that often involves a small arsenal of weapons, including toxic chemicals.
What is an Ultrasonic Pest Control Device?
Ultrasonic pest control is a form of electronic pest control that is designed to emit short-wavelength, high-frequency sound waves. The idea is that, while these sounds are too high in pitch for the human ear to hear, certain animals and pests who are in tune with high-frequency sounds can hear them.
These animals may include rats, cockroaches, mice, fleas, lice, etc. These ultrasonic sound waves will supposedly trigger what’s called an audiogenic seizure response in these pests. Many animals such as mice, rats, squirrels, and pesky insects like wasps, mosquitoes, and bed bugs are known to respond to these sound waves.
So if the plug-in pest repellent is switched on in your property, they will leave as soon as they hear them, without you having to use chemicals or deal with traps. Ultrasonic pest repellers, once plugged into an electrical outlet, operate by emitting short wavelength, high-frequency sound waves that are too high for humans to hear.
The average young person hears sounds ranging from 20 to 20,000 Hz; whereas, a middle-aged person only hears up to 12-14,000 Hz. Animals and insects hear sounds in a much higher range. On average, ultrasonic devices emit a sound at about 65,000 Hz which, according to ultrasonic pest control device manufacturers, chases the pests away.
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Most ultrasonic pest repeller devices are small, can be plugged into your electrical outlet, and are about the same size as a baby monitor or miniature alarm clock. They come in both corded and cordless varieties. And you can purchase packs of them to plug in various parts of your home since their range of sound only goes so far.
The cost of ultrasonic pest control devices can vary from as little as $10 up to nearly $100. The reason there is such a big discrepancy in price is that you have a variety of options here. First, most of them come in packs of two, four, or six devices. So the number that you get can impact the price.
Second, different devices serve different purposes. Some are intended to ward off virtually any type of pest, whereas some ultrasonic devices are targeted for specific pests such as rodents, insects, birds, or deer. So invariably, the type(s) of pests that the devices ward off can impact the price.
Another factor affecting the price is the features of the device. For example, a certain device that is currently sold for $60, claims to reach 7,000 square feet. It also allows you to target specific rodents or switch up the high-frequency sounds to further confuse the pests. This device also comes with a one-year warranty. All these additions helped to drive up the price.
But Does Ultrasonic Pest Repellers Actually Work?
Most manufacturers claim that their ultrasonic pest repellers work on mice, cockroaches, mosquitoes, flies, bed bugs, spiders, ants, and more. But several pest controllers say they have been called into numerous properties where there has been a pest infestation, despite the use of ultrasonic pest control devices.
Ultrasonic pest repellers have been studied for decades and they are currently a lot of evidence on how effective they really are. Let’s take a look at the different pests that have been studied and how ultrasonic frequencies deter them (or not).
A lot of independent studies have gone on regarding the effect of ultrasonic pest repellers on rats because they are one of the most troublesome rodents in a house. All the studies were almost unanimous in their findings. They found out that initially, the ultrasonic sound frequencies worked at keeping the rat or mice away maybe for days, but afterwards they came back even with the presence of the ultrasonic sound emitting machine.
One study done in 1983 looked to see if ultrasonic frequencies affected which boxes German Cockroaches decided to live in. Each box was divided into two sides, and each side had ample food and water. One side of the box had a small speaker that would emit ultrasonic waves while the other did not. After several days of testing 7 different frequencies the study found that cockroaches showed no signs of being repelled by the ultrasonic waves.
One study done in 2007 found that ultrasonic frequencies between 20-100 kHz had no repellent effects on both mosquitoes and cockroaches. Ultrasound from the random ultrasonic device failed to repel mosquitoes and German cockroaches at the different frequency ranges evaluated.
For bedbugs, there isn’t as much study done on them and ultrasonic devices, likely because bed bugs aren’t known to communicate with frequencies. They are thought to use pheromones to communicate. But there is one study that looked at ultrasonic devices and bed bugs. Published in 2012, this study tested four different commercial ultrasonic devices. It found no repellent effects against bed bugs.
Fleas and Ticks
Some ultrasonic products are sold as outdoor devices with the intent to keep fleas and ticks out of your yard. Some companies even make ultrasonic devices that strap onto your pet’s collar which is supposed to ward the pests away. A study done in 1991 tested both a collar ultrasonic device and a larger household ultrasonic device. It found that the ultrasonic frequencies had no impact on fleas and ticks.
Can Ultrasonic Pest Control Devices Harm Pets?
Since ultrasonic pest control devices operate at higher sound frequencies, we humans can’t hear them. But what about our pets? Could dogs, cats, birds, and other pets feel distressed by these rodent repellent devices?
In the case of dogs, most dogs are safe from the impact of ultrasonic waves. They may hear them but will not be impacted. However, if you have a dog with a nervous disposition, the sound could cause some stress, but there are some warning signs you can look for.
For example, if your dog seems confused, has its head tilted toward the device, starts running around trying to find where the sound is coming from or is whining or barking, these could all be signs of distress. However, if your dog completely ignores it, then you should be fine.
Cats and birds should not be bothered by the sounds either, however, like dogs, when you first try out the device, you’ll want to monitor these pets to see if they do have a reaction. Again, there are so many different types of devices that it is possible that some could cause some stress. Ultrasonic pest repellers could also affect some pets such as hamsters, rabbits, and other domesticated rodents.
In lab tests, using powerful ultrasonic emitters, some pests were dramatically affected by the sound. But in real-life situations, using store-bought devices, research has shown that ultrasonic pest repellers are inconsistent and ineffective.
The devices available from stores and online aren’t powerful enough to affect pests. Their range is too short and the sound waves they emit are too weak to effectively repel bugs or rodents.
In some cases, mice and rats simply stop reacting to the sound. After initially considering it a threat, they become accustomed to it. Other pests don’t show any reaction. Even if the devices did produce effects on bugs, their range is too limited to control an infestation of any size.
Safety concerns have arisen, too as some users have reported that the sound can weaken the clarity of telephone conversations, interfere with burglar alarm systems, and cause muting in hearing aids. The noise may also cause inadvertent distress to rabbits and rodent pets, such as guinea pigs and hamsters. Cats and dogs can hear in the ultrasonic range, but they appear not to be bothered by the noise emitted by these devices.