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Ultrasonic Devices

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Ultrasonic Pest Control? Save Your Money

by Barb Ogg, Ph.D., Nebraska Extension Educator, Emeritus

A number of gadgets are being marketed to unsuspecting folks who want an easier and safer way to manage pests around the home. These ultrasonic devices are marketed through mail order companies, home shopping cable channels, in gardening magazines and are readily being sold on the internet. The extension office has received a number of phone calls from folks who are interested in buying these as gifts or for themselves and want to know how effective they are.

Ultrasonic devices claim to use ultra-high frequency sound waves to chase away birds, bats, rodents and arthropod pests like fleas, cockroaches, silverfish and even spiders. Most of them are designed to plug into an electrical outlet, but there are battery-operated models that have been designed as a flea-repellent collar and pocket-sized cards for outdoor lovers to carry around with them to repel mosquitoes. They range from cheap ($6.99) to very expensive ($699.00).

The consensus of researchers who have actually investigated ultrasonic devices is these products do not effectively repel or eliminate pests from homes. In fact, in the 1980's the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged several companies with false advertising and required them to make refunds to customers. My guess is it is just a matter of time and the FTC will go after the makers of these other devices also.

The advice, "If it seems to good to be true, it probably isn't true" fits here. There are plenty of non-toxic or low toxic methods to keep pests outside, but they take a bit more time and effort than plugging an ineffective device into an electrical outlet. These include:

Mouse Control:

  • Seal crackes and crevices larger than 1/4 inch.
  • Eliminate weedy growth or vegetation near the house. Mice live in these locations.
  • Use traps and/or glueboards inside the house at the earliest signs of mice.

Invading Insects (box elder bugs, lady bugs, crickets, some spiders):

  • Again, seal small cracks and crevices.
  • Place glueboards in the corners of rooms to catch critters that inadvertently wander inside.

Glueboards are one of the easiest trapping methods for invading insects and they are cheap, too. The cheapest are often sold for rodent control, but they readily catch insects that crawl on the floor. There are two types of glueboards. The first is the "tray" type that has a shallow depression filled with a very sticky substance. The second type is a "board" trap--basically a thin piece of cardboard with a sticky layer on it. The board traps are more effective for both rodents and insects--and they are often cheaper than the tray types.

In addition to being inexpensive, sticky traps are completely non-toxic. The biggest problem is when pets or kids get into it. The sticky substance can be removed with vegetable oil, but it will be messy.

This article appeared in the NEBLINE Newsletter. It was updated August 2015. For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement

Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County is your on-line educational resource. The information on this Web site is valid for residents of southeastern Nebraska. It may or may not apply in your area. If you live outside southeastern Nebraska, visit your local Extension office

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