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Ultrasonic pest repellers claim to be a safe and sophisticated way to deter a wide range of common pests, including spiders, insects, and rodents. As more homeowners seek effective and eco-conscious alternatives to chemical pesticides and repellents, these devices have gained significant attention. But do ultrasonic pest repellers work? This guide explores what scientists, homeowners, and pest control experts say.
How Do Ultrasonic Pest Repellers Work?
Ultrasonic pest repellers emit high-frequency sound waves above 20 kilohertz (kHz), which is the upper limit of human hearing. This means that while human ears cannot hear these high-pitched sounds, rodents, insects, and other household pests can. In theory, the frequencies emitted by ultrasonic pest repellers will make the surrounding area uncomfortable for pests without bothering human occupants.
Manufacturer claims about how ultrasonic pest repellers work are vague. Most simply say they repel pests using ultrasonic sound waves without offering a full explanation. Presumably, pests find the sounds irritating or disruptive to their natural behaviors, leading them to avoid or vacate the area.
Not all ultrasonic pest repellers are created equal. Several factors may impact their effectiveness. A space’s layout, furniture, and construction materials can impact how well and how far sound waves travel, potentially reducing the range of an ultrasonic device. Devices vary in the frequencies they use, the pests they target, the duration of the sound they emit, and the radius they cover.
Are Ultrasonic Pest Repellers Effective?
Several scientific studies have tested the effectiveness of ultrasonic pest repellers, but the results have been mixed at best. Although a few studies have observed an initial or mild aversion to high-frequency sounds, insects and rodents seem to habituate to the sound over time. Here are a few specific studies:
- A 2002 study by researchers at Kansas State University tested three repellent devices on ants and found all three to be ultimately ineffective.
- A 2007 study tested a wide range of ultrasonic frequencies on German cockroaches and mosquitoes with no success.
- A 2010 study at the State University of Campinas in Brazil found that some devices meant to repel mosquitoes actually increased bite rates.
- A 2012 study at Northern Arizona University tested four devices in 2012 and observed no effect on bedbugs.
In general, scientists have not been able to replicate the success claimed by manufacturers, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has cast doubt on their efficacy. Studies that do show some success often have a small sample size or take place entirely in a lab environment with a device that is not commercially available.
Despite this, many ultrasonic pest repellers receive glowing customer reviews. Some models on Amazon have averaged 4.5 to 4.8 out of 5 stars across thousands of reviews.
Are Ultrasonic Pest Repellers Safe and Reliable?
Ultrasonic pest repellers offer a range of potential benefits that have captured the attention of homeowners. These devices are nontoxic and odorless, unlike many pesticides. They don’t rely on chemicals that could harm nontarget species, the environment, or your family.
They are also a simple and low-maintenance solution. Plug-in models can be installed in electrical outlets throughout the area you wish to protect. Battery-operated models provide more placement options, and some outdoor models are solar-powered.
Although ultrasonic devices generally tick the safety box, they have some drawbacks. Their performance seems inconsistent. They may not cover large areas effectively, and some homeowners have reported issues with telephone calls, alarm systems, and hearing aids after installing them. They may also bother small pets, such as guinea pigs and hamsters.
Here are a few tips for using ultrasonic pest repellers as safely and effectively as possible:
- Avoid blocking the device with furniture or other obstructions.
- Look for a device specifically designed for your target pest.
- Monitor the effectiveness over time and adjust accordingly.
- Position devices near potential entry points and hotspots.
- Research and invest in a reputable brand with positive reviews.
- Use ultrasonic devices in combination with proper sanitation.
Alternatives to Ultrasonic Pest Repellers
While ultrasonic pest repellers offer an intriguing approach to pest control, they are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Other pest control options may be more effective for your specific situation, such as the following:
- Chemical pesticides: Chemical pesticides provide rapid and potent pest control. Many pesticides can be toxic to children and pets, however, and they may not align with eco-friendly or humane preferences. Additionally, some products can only be applied by a pest control professional.
- DIY home remedies: Many DIY solutions use nontoxic ingredients, making them safer for pets, humans, and the environment. Dish soap traps, diatomaceous earth, and vinegar sprays are a few common ones. However, home remedies vary in effectiveness depending on the type of pest and severity of the infestation.
- Exclusion devices: Exclusion devices prevent pests from entering certain areas, such as your home or garden. Examples include one-way doors, chimney caps, insect screens, and plant covers. This approach is effective but requires more effort and may not fully address existing pests.
- Integrated pest management (IPM): Integrated pest management is a holistic approach to pest control that emphasizes prevention and targeted pest control methods that minimize environmental impact. Ultrasonic pest repellers could be used as part of an IPM strategy.
- Natural predators: Some pests can be eliminated by introducing a natural predator. For instance, cats can help keep mice away, ladybugs help control aphids, and beneficial nematodes combat lawn grubs. Unfortunately, not all pests have a natural enemy that homeowners can use safely, easily, and legally.
- Professional pest control: If you are facing a severe or persistent infestation, enlisting the help of a reputable pest control company may be the best option. Though professional pest control costs more than DIY solutions, it also tends to be faster and more effective.
- Property maintenance: You can reduce the likelihood of a pest infestation by sealing potential entry points, trimming vegetation away from your home, and removing debris from your yard. Regular cleaning and maintenance require time and effort but can prevent insects from invading your home in the first place.
- Traps and baits: Baited traps can help reduce insect or rodent populations. Live capture traps even allow you to remove an animal from your home without harming it. Traps may not be humane, though, and need to be checked regularly. Some baits can even be toxic to children and household pets.
In the quest for humane and eco-friendly pest control, ultrasonic pest repellers may seem promising. Many homeowners have found them effective against a variety of pests, such as silverfish and roaches. However, they work best when combined with other pest management solutions.
If you are dealing with a large infestation or a safety threat, such as termites or wasps, we recommend investing in professional pest control services from a reputable company, such as Orkin or Terminix.
Ultrasonic Pest Repellers FAQ
How long does it take for ultrasonic pest repellers to work?
Some homeowners report seeing results from ultrasonic pest repellers within a few weeks, while others notice no change even after extended use.
Do ultrasonic pest repellers work on cockroaches?
Although some homeowners claim these devices keep cockroaches away, scientific studies have concluded that ultrasonic pest repellers do not work on cockroaches.
Why are ultrasonic pest repellers not effective for mice?
Ultrasonic rodent repellers are not effective pest control for mice because mice and other rodents can quickly become accustomed to repeated sounds. Ultrasonic sound waves may also be blocked by the objects mice hide behind, under, and in.
What are the drawbacks of using ultrasonic pest repellers?
The main drawback of using ultrasonic pest repellers is their inconsistent effectiveness. They also provide limited coverage and may be uncomfortable for small pets.
How We Chose the Top Pest Control Companies
Our pest control research process starts with analyzing customer reviews on third-party websites such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Trustpilot, and Google Reviews. We then do a deep dive into each company’s website, service plans, and available cost information. We also secret shop the companies we review, reach out to representatives, and request quotes.
From there, we compile the information we’ve gathered and compare each company using our in-depth pest control methodology and review criteria. This process uses a series of factors that are important to our readers, and we score each company depending on how well they perform in each factor. For instance, companies that offer more guarantees for their service earned more points than others, and pest control plans with a larger range of covered pests earned more points than ones with fewer.
After analyzing dozens of residential and commercial pest control businesses through this process, we were able to determine the best pest control companies on the market.