Does Ultrasonic Rodent Repellent Work?
We all know that the best rodent problem is the one that never happened, right? Sure we can buy mouse traps and try to alleviate the symptoms, but that won’t help prevent them in the first place. For this reason, ultrasonic rodent repellents are highly appealing to homeowners for the proclaimed ability to repel rodents from overstaying their welcome. They’re also easy to obtain – you can find them at a variety of home improvement stores and supermarkets.
While these all sound like major pluses, how effective are ultrasonic rodent repellent devices? And how do they work? Here’s the breakdown.
How ultrasonic rodent repellents work:
Ultrasonic rodent repellents are small devices that emit high-frequency sound waves that are claimed intolerable to rodents. Humans and pets, however, cannot hear them. It is advised to use these devices in key areas where you have seen a mouse or other rodent, or where you have seen signs of one (droppings, track marks, etc.). To the mouse, the frequencies will sound like a loud jackhammer. This isn’t just insufferable to rodents, but the product claims to repel insects as well.
So, do ultrasonic rodent repellents really work?
The short answer is no, ultrasonic rodent repellents don’t work. Some homeowners have noted an immediate effect at first, but over time the rodent problem will continue to persist. Mice are fairly resilient and adaptable, so while the sound may bother them at first, eventually they will grow accustomed to it or find an alternative route. The frequency of most also don’t travel very far from the device, usually about 10-20 feet.
The real reason you may have a rodent problem has to do with structural issues, which this product alone will not help treat. Rodents are often invited indoors through gaps in the exterior of your home such as vents, damaged roofing, drain pipes, cracks in the foundation and even slipping underneath doors.
Rodent Prevention Tips
Even though ultrasonic rodent repellents ultimately don’t prevent rodents, prevention is key to eliminating rodents in your home. Here are a few reliable prevention methods:
- Use door sweeps to limit rodents’ ability to slide underneath.
- Keep potential hiding places (firewood, outdoor furniture, etc.) far from your home’s entrances.
- Cover vents with mesh to block entrances.
- Look for holes in the exterior of your home, especially where cables or pipes enter your home. Some of these spots are large enough for mice to sneak through. A good, quick fix is steel wool or caulking these areas.
Contact Wil-Kil for Effective Rodent Control
If your rodent problem continues to persist, call in an expert. Wil-Kil has been providing residential and commercial pest control services since 1924, so we’ve seen it all. We can help identify places you may have overlooked, and reinforce prevention and treatment methods with exclusion. Give us a call or contact us online for an inspection and plan of action.
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Ultrasonic electronic pest and insect repellent devices claim that their high-frequency soundwaves are intolerable to rodents and insects.
However, simply plugging in one of these devices probably won’t end your pest woes. It’s important to understand exactly what these devices can do before investing in one.
In 2001, the Federal Trade Commission sent a warning to manufacturers of ultrasonic pest control devices, demanding that claims of effectiveness must be backed up by scientific research.
Thanks to the FTC intervention, package claims on ultrasonic rodent and insect devices are more understated than they used to be, and many product websites have links explaining their research methods and results.
If you dig deeper into the various products, you’ll find that the studies have mixed results.
Overall, some ultrasonic pest control devices show some results with certain pests — how’s that for convincing?
These products are by no means a quick fix, and none of them claim 100% effectiveness on any pest, so they need to be kept in perspective as a possible contributor to an overall pest management system, not as a magic weapon.
If you’re thinking of adding electronic repellents to your pest-control system, follow these guidelines:
- Keep Trapping: The best results for both rodents and insects come from using ultrasonic pest repellents along with trapping. Simply put, soundwaves cause the pests to scurry around, which drives them right into your traps.
- Expect Diminishing Returns: Pests such as rodents become accustomed to the sound from ultrasonic devices over time, so results may only be temporary.
- Have Realistic Expectations: Even the successful research on ultrasonic pest control devices shows a percentage of decrease, not a total elimination of rodent and insect pests.
- Device Location: Soundwaves from ultrasonic pest control devices are short-range and very weak, so they’re easily blocked by furniture, walls and corners. To test out the location of your device, place a lamp next to the device, turn off all the other lights, and note the beams and shadows from the lamp. The repellent sound waves will pretty much only be active where the light reaches.
Backed by his 40-year remodeling career, Danny served as the home improvement expert for CBS’s The Early Show and The Weather Channel for more than a decade. His extensive hands-on experience and understanding of the industry make him the go-to source for all things having to do with the home – from advice on simple repairs, to complete remodels, to helping homeowners prepare their homes for extreme weather and seasons.
Rats contaminate and destroy enough food worldwide each year to feed 200 million people, according to estimates of the World Health Organization. In the U.S. rats cause between $500 million and $1 billion a year in property and health losses. According to the Centers for Disease Control, rats and mice bite more than 45,000 people each year. Rodent-associated diseases in the U.S. include plague, murine typhus, salmonellosis, rat bite fever, leptospirosis, trichinosis, toxoplasmosis, and hantavirus.
The rat population in the U.S. is estimated to be at least one rat for every person. Rats can jump three feet straight up, and four feet outwards. They can burrow three feet straight down into the ground; chew through building materials, glass, and cinder block; and climb up inside the pipes with diameters between 1 1/2 and 4 inches. Some 20% of fires of unknown origin are thought to be caused by rodents gnawing through electrical wiring. It's important to seal openings and cracks around pipes and wires and to fix damaged screens and doors.
A female house mouse gives birth to 6 young about 19 days after mating. She is ready to mate again in two days. She can produce 6 to 10 litters a year. Two mice starting to breed on New Year's day could theoretically have as many as 31,000 descendents by December 31.
Innovative Technology Ultrasonic Rodent Repellers™
Frequently Asked Questions:
Simply click on number for an answer to each question:
1. How does an ultrasonic rodent repeller work?
Ultrasonic Rodent Repellers™ emit high frequency ultrasonic sound waves between 32 and 62 kHz to create an acoustically hostile environment that repels rodents from sound-protected rooms. It's more humane than traps, safer than poisons, environmentally sustainable and completely inaudible to people and non-rodent pets. More importantly, unlike traps and poisons, the Ultrasonic rodent repellers minimize human contact with disease-bearing rodents. BACK TO TOP
2. Are All Electronic/Ultrasonic Rodent Repellers Created Equal?.. BACK TO TOP
3. Why can't I hear the Ultrasonic Rodent Repellers™?
Ultrasonic sound is a frequency too high to be heard by the human ear (your eardrum cannot vibrate fast enough). People can hear sounds ranging from 20 to 20,000 cycles per second, while dogs and cats can hear up to 27,000 cycles per second. The range of other animals can be even higher. When measured electronically, these frequencies are expressed in "hertz", defined as a unit equal to one cycle per second.
Ultrasonic sound waves are frequencies over 20,000 hertz, or 20 kilohertz (kHz). Ultrasonic Rodent Repellers™ are designed to continually and automatically sweep an ultrasonic frequency range between 32 and 62 kHz, well above the hearing range of humans and common pets (cats, dogs, birds, fish). Rodents and some other pests can clearly hear these frequencies. At high intensity the sound can induce auditory stress. BACK TO TOP
4. How does ultrasound affect rodents?
Ultrasound can repel rodents by subjecting them to intense auditory stress. Very simply, ultrasound hurts their ears. This is a classic animal behavior modification technique. Unlike traps and poisons, ultrasound does not kill rodents. Ultrasonic Rodent Repellers™ have the ability to provide long-term reductions in rodent populations by creating a "rodent-unfriendly" environment that discourages rodent infestations. BACK TO TOP
5. Will rodents adapt to the ultrasonic rodent repeller?
No. Ultrasonic Rodent Repellers uses a complex "swept" frequency with multiple "peaks" between 32 and 62 kHz. Intensity, complexity and changing frequencies prevent rodents from getting used to the sound. BACK TO TOP
6. Can ultrasound be heard by my rodent family pets such as my pet rat or gerbil?
Yes, absolutely. Rodent pets include mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, ferrets, and squirrels. Never install any ultrasonic rodent repellers in rooms inhabited by rodent pets as the sound will cause your pet severe auditory stress.
7. Does ultrasound penetrate through walls?
No. In fact, ultrasonic waves behave more like light than sound. Ultrasound cannot penetrate any solid surface (walls, floors, ceilings) or travel around corners. This is why you need an ultrasonic rodent repeller for each room where you have a rodent problem. To visualize how ultrasound travels, imagine that our ultrasonic rodent repeller speaker is a flood light. The sound will radiate outward in a cone shape, throwing "shadows" behind solid objects and casting very little "light" into other rooms. This house installation diagramillustrates how ultrasound bounces off hard surfaces to fill an average-sized home with ultrasonic sound waves. BACK TO TOP
8. How much square footage will each ultrasonic rodent repeller cover?
It can vary greatly depending on each individual room or space. Ultrasound is a directional sound wave. Its physical properties do not allow it to penetrate any solid surface. In addition, ultrasound dissipates rapidly with distance, and may have little effect on rodents more than 20 feet from the sound speaker. BACK TO TOP
The rule regarding square footage coverage is simple: an ultrasonic device can only cover the room in which it is installed; in a 10' x 10' room it covers 100 sq. ft., in a double car garage it covers 800 sq. ft. If the room is as large as 1000 square feet, adequate coverage can be delivered if there are not a lot of obstructions like furniture or stored products in the space. With obstructions, you will need to install more than one unit for maximum effectiveness.
9. How much does the Ultrasonic Rodent Repellers™ cost to operate?
Ultrasonic Rodent Repellers™ cost less than 20 cents per month to operate on a 24 hour basis. Keep it plugged in at all times. Our ultrasonic rodent repellers draw only 2 watts. BACK TO TOP
10. When can I expect results?
The field test studies that Sonic conducted for Canadian registration showed a marked reduction in rodent activity in 6 to 10 days on average. BACK TO TOP
11. If I can't hear the Ultrasonic Rodent Repellers™ , how do I know it's working?
When our ultrasonic rodent repeller is plugged in, you will see a LED light behind the speaker grill. This light tells you the ultrasonic rodent repeller is working properly. You may also hear a very slight audible sound component if you are within 2 feet of the ultrasonic rodent repeller. BACK TO TOP
12. How long will an ultrasonic rodent repeller last?
The estimated service life of each unit is from 5 to 7 years. No adjustment or service is required. BACK TO TOP
13. Does ultrasound affect insects?
Some insect species can produce or perceive sound in ultrasonic frequencies and are affected by high-frequency sound. That is not to say that it can effectively repel them or control them. There has been little true scientific research to determine if ultrasonic sound generators could produce effective insect control results. Sonic makes no claims that ultrasonic rodent repellers can be used for insect pest control. We believe that it is improper for any company to make specific insect claims unless backed by peer-reviewed scientific studies. BACK TO TOP
14. Can ultrasonic sound waves be effective in repelling bats from attics and other inside areas?
Sonic Technology Products makes no specific claims regarding the effectiveness of our ultrasonic rodent repeller in repelling bats because the way bats respond to high frequency sound can vary significantly depending upon the time of year. Between December and June, bats are roosting and hibernating. They will not leave their nest, even if you introduce high frequency sound. They give birth to their young in mid-February and will absolutely not abandon them, no matter how noxious the sound is to them. The only time high frequency sound produces a repellent effect is from July through the end of October, after their young have flown off and before they roost again for the winter. In our view, bats are extremely beneficial and their habitat should be protected. Bats are the single best controller of the insect kingdom. Bats may eat as many as 600 mosquito-size insects in an hour. An average size bat colony may eat 1/2 million insects in one evening. BACK TO TOP
15. Doesn't ultrasound just chase rodents from one place to another? Doesn't it make more sense to kill them with traps and poisons?
Traps and poisons come with a heavy price. Poisons can endanger children and pets while both traps and poisons require the handling of potentially disease-bearing rodents. Additionally, new rodent populations will almost always replace the ones you've killed. Using ultrasound in your pest control efforts is environmentally sustainable and can result in long-term reductions of rodent populations. Rodents will limit their population to the available food and shelter in their environment. BACK TO TOP
16. What else can I do to discourage rodents in my home?
In addition to using ultrasound, the CDC recommends sealing your home or business. Patch screens or gaps in walls and doorways, keep foods well-sealed and food preparation areas clean so you don't attract rodents in the first place. Ensure the area outside your home or business is free of weeds, wood piles, and debris. BACK TO TOP
How do Electronic Rodent Repellents Work?
Electronic mouse repellents operate under the idea of using high-frequency sounds to drive mice away from food sources and nesting grounds within human homes.
Sonic or ultrasonic devices have been touted as repellents for everything from roaches to insects to rodents, specifically rats and mice. There are multiple brands of these electric devices that are said to emit either a sonic or ultrasonic wave, which these pests allegedly find irritating. Some are sold specifically to repel rodents. However, there is little data that these devices repel insects or are effective in rodent control.
Rats and mice emit high-pitched sounds and may communicate using these sounds. Devices that use sound that humans can hear typically have no effect on the rodents. Sonic devices are also used to deter birds, but there is only temporary relief, if any.
In fact, in areas with large populations of birds, birds have been observed roosting on top of sonic units. Humans can hear some sounds heard by rats and mice; however, much of the rodents’ hearing range is above the human range. This range outside of human hearing is called “ultrasonic.”
The theory of ultrasonic repellents is to create a sound irritating to rodents, but yet at a frequency out of the range of human hearing. Even though sound may be created that can be heard by rodents and not heard by humans, there is little data to support that these devices repel rodents.
These sounds are supposed to be alarming to mice and discourage them from settling or feeding in affected areas. However, the sound emitted by these repellents cannot pass through walls, and furniture may limit their range. Data on these tools show little to no effectiveness. If mice are present in a home, it is best to contact a pest management professional, since mice can be destructive and spread contamination.
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Do Ultrasonic Pest Repellers Work?
Type “do-it yourself pest control" into an online search engine and you're going to come back with more than one million results. (Literally. We checked.) However, finding a lot of hits on your search doesn't necessarily mean that these methods will work.
In many cases, DIY pest control has some risks and downsides—and you may just wind up spending more in the end in an attempt to control a pest problem on your own.
Many homeowners often turn to DIY pest repellents in order to save money. And ultrasonic pest devices and plugins make a big, bold promise: effortless pest removal with the push of a button.
But these promises are largely empty. In fact, Consumer Reports advises avoiding ultrasonic pest repellents altogether, stating that in 2016, the New York Attorney General's Office sent cease and desist letters to two different manufacturers of these devices due to false advertising claims. Additionally, the Federal Trade Commission has been warning consumers about ultrasonic pest control devices for decades, as manufacturers do not have the scientific evidence required to back up their claims of effectiveness.
Before you invest in an often-pricey ultrasonic pest control device, make sure you understand the distinct pros and cons of electronic "plug pest control." Let's dive deeper into more information around ultrasonic pest repellers before we offer up some ways to approach pest management in a non-aggressive way.
What is an ultrasonic pest repeller?
An ultrasonic pest repeller is an electronic pest control device that emits a high-pitched sound at a frequency that may cause discomfort to, kill, drive away or incapacitate household pests. Ultrasonic pest control solutions market themselves as easier and safer than more hands-on pest repellents and pest control options.
The devices typically get plugged into an electrical outlet. However, some devices are battery-operated for easier use in fields, gardens, sheds and other areas that aren't wired for power.
When turned on, the machine emits high-pitched sounds or high-frequency vibrations, which are typically imperceptible to human ears, although some individuals with more sensitive hearing may hear them.
What kind of pests do ultrasonic pest repellers work on?
Most ultrasonic pest repellers claim to drive away a variety of unwanted home and garden visitors, including:
- Bed bugs
- Fleas and ticks (you can even find pet collars with battery-operated ultrasonic devices embedded in them)
- Rats and mice
The claim behind ultrasonic pest repellers
The manufacturers behind ultrasonic pest control devices claim that a wide range of pest species don't like the sounds and vibrations emitted by the machines. Rather than put up with the annoying noises from the device, the pests may flee your home and garden and seek refuge in areas not blanketed by the high-frequency sounds.
A related group of pest control machines, known as "subsonic pest repellers," work in a similar fashion and use very low-frequency sounds or vibrations. The claim is the same: Unwanted animals and insects find the noise impossible to withstand and vacate the premises.
Before investing in these devices, homeowners should investigate the research that explores the efficacy of ultrasonic pest repellers.
Do ultrasonic pest repellers really work?
Despite manufacturers claiming ultrasonic machines affect all these different species, well-constructed research supporting these claims is scant.
For instance, a study on how ultrasonic pest repellers affect bed bugs found that bed bug activity did seem to change slightly when the devices were running. However, in the end, there was no statistical difference when compared to not using an ultrasonic pest repeller.
Similarly, a 2015 study conducted by the University of Arizona concluded that, although the number of patents for ultrasonic pest repellents had increased over the years, commercially available ultrasonic pest devices were not an effective means of treating pest problems.
And even when they do work, the effects are short-lived. For instance, a study of rodent repellent devices for the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Wildlife Research Center found that rodents stopped responding to the ultrasonic sounds after just a few days of exposure.
Sometimes, ultrasonic devices don't just fail to chase away pests. They might even have the unintended effect of doing exactly the opposite and making pest problems worse. A study recorded in the Journal of Vector Ecology investigated the impact that ultrasonic pest repellers had on mosquitoes. When turned on, the devices actually increased the rate of mosquito bites by 50 percent.
Technically, the behavior of pest species like cockroaches or rodents can be influenced or impacted by certain ultrasonic sounds, especially when administered in a laboratory in a very specific way. But this is a level of technology and application that is not commercially available nor easy to apply in a home and garden setting.
While some ultrasonic repellents may have a minor short-term impact on some pests, the research is nearly universal: Ultrasonic pest repellers are not an effective option for preventing or eradicating pests.
Are ultrasonic pest repellers safe for pets?
Most ultrasonic pest repellers emit sounds above 20 kilohertz (kHz). When it comes to your pets, the level of frequency they can hear depends on what type of animal they are.
For example, pet rats, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs and other pet rodents can hear sounds up to 90 kHz. Cats can hear up to 60 kHz. Dogs can pick up sounds up to 40 kHz.
It's not so much whether or not your pets can hear these ultrasonic pest repellers; the bigger concern is whether or not the sounds can harm your animals.
There may be cause for concern about long-term neurological damage because, unlike pests, your pets live in your home and cannot leave the vicinity of these ultrasonic devices. However, there has been no clear research investigating the long-term effects on dogs, cats and other popular pet species. If you have pets, talk to your veterinarian about these devices prior to buying one.
Other pest control options
There's an old adage that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. These words of wisdom apply to ultrasonic pest repellers.
By hiring an experienced pest management company, not only will it take the necessary actions to manage your pesit will give you insider tips on what you can do to keep them from becoming a problem in the first place, such as:
- Learning about the behaviors of the pest you're struggling with and modifying your home and landscape to make it unwelcoming to that specific pest.
- Sealing cracks and openings into your home, such as vents, drains and window frames.
- Removing clutter and sources of food in and around your home that may be attracting pests.
- Eliminating hiding spots around your home and landscape where pests might find shelter and reproduce.
If you're struggling with a pest problem and don't know where to start, you don't have to tackle your pest concerns on your own. Talk to a trained pest control professional at Terminix® instead. Our trained technicians can help you to identify the specific pests you're dealing with, educate you on the behaviors and habits of these pests and put together a comprehensive control and protection plan.
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