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Do Ultrasonic Pest Repellers Work?

Plug and play is the current way of life, so naturally, there would be a pest control option in this realm. Electronic pest control is appealing, but do ultrasonic pest repellers work?


The idea of using sound to control pests is nothing new. In fact, it dates back hundreds of years in Chinese farms. They have record of mechanical contraptions that would emit sound to keep pests away from their crops.

In this situation, companies are producing devices that are ultrasonic emitters. This means that the sound produced by their product is outside the range of human hearing. The benefit of this is that they are able to target pests without being detectable by people. The concept is quite simple: plug it is and it will emit a sound that will disrupt pest patterns and behaviors.


While the theory is great, it is important to remember that companies test their products in a lab. When considering a device, consider the possibility of interference. The devices are sound based. Anything that gets in the way of that sound wave will diminish its effectiveness. Since most people are more concerned about protecting things like food storage rather than empty rooms, the potential for device interference is quite high. Other items that would interfere include furniture, walls, and even carpeting.

On the flip side, these devices can interfere with unintended targets as well such as hearing aids, pet hamsters, phone signals, alarm systems, etc. While pets such as cats and dogs are not typically affected, other non-rodent pets such as rabbits may be.

Is It More Humane?

One of the big draws to ultrasonic pest repellers is the perception of being more humane than other options. The underlying explanation of how ultrasonic pest control devices work is they rely on an audiogenic seizure response. This response may result in disoriented or sporadic running, convulsions, and even the possibility of death from cerebral hemorrhage. Not all pests respond the same, but if humane methods are your primary goal, it is worth investigating the particular device of choice and the pest at hand.

What The Studies Show

Unfortunately, the studies are not completely conclusive. They have produced mixed results. One of the reasons for this is not all pests behave the same. Some insects that chirp like a house cricket are moire likely to have sound interfere with their mating patterns. In a study by Purdue, this turned out to be exactly the case. The sounds disrupted the crickets, but not the cockroaches. Ants and spiders are other pests which are not noise dependent, hence they showed up as unaffected in the study as well.

Because of the differences in testing and claimed efficacy, companies have received warning letters and in some cases, have faced lawsuits from the FTC.

Adapted Tolerance

Some studies have shown that pests that are initially affected by the sound develop an increased tolerance for it. This is not surprising as pests of all sorts have shown an amazing ability to adapt to chemicals and environmental changes meant to keep them away. This is the driving cause behind pest professionals rotating modes of actions throughout the year to keep ahead of pests.

What Really Happens

Despite what one study may or may not show, there are many individuals who have had success with them. As with any questioned solution, the only thing that matters is whether it works in your particular situation. Is the cost worth the experiment? Can the item be returned under specific conditions if it is not satisfactory? These are a couple of questions that should be considered in deciding whether or not to pursue ultrasonic pest repellers in your home.

If you find out that the answer for you is yes, ultrasonic pest repellers do work, just keep an eye out for pests developing tolerance. If they do not work, don’t worry. There are many options available including chemical controls, trapping, mechanical controls, and environmental changes. Call Rove Pest Control for a free estimate on any of your pest control needs.