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Electronic Pest Repellers Don’t Work Against Bed Bugs Either

By Chris Williams on February 21, 2013.

Question

I saw an ad for an electronic pest repeller that claims it will rid your home of bed bugs. I was always a little skeptical about those ultrasonic things but have they perfected the technology finally? I would like to think that I could do something to repel any bed bugs that we might bring into the home.

Answer

Sorry, but there is still no evidence that electronic bug repellers work against any pests, including bed bugs. The devices have been tested against many other pests in the past, but researchers recently put some of the repellers to the test against our newest pest, bed bugs.

Researchers Yturride and Hofstetter of Northern Arizona University went online and bought four of the products that claimed they could control bed bugs. The researchers set up arenas, some with the repeller devices and some without. They let loose a bunch of bed bugs and found that the bed bugs were neither repelled by nor attracted to the electronic devices. In other words, they had no effect at all. The authors concluded that buying the devices to control bed bugs is a waste of money.

These so-called pest repellers are sold by various names such as ultrasonic device, electronic pest repeller, microvibration system, and electromagnetic pest repeller. They claim to use high frequency sound waves, seismic vibrations, or electromagnetic output to repel insects, rodents, and virtually every other pest. Now, the pest of the year—the bed bug—has been added to the list of pests they claim to control.

It’s not just my opinion that these devices don’t work as advertised. They have been tested by many reputable independent university researchers, and found lacking. The devices did not affect cockroach behavior or even their distribution within a room. They did not kill fleas or affect flea hatch or development. And they don’t affect bed bugs, either.

How come the companies are allowed to sell pest repellers that clearly don’t work? The Environmental Protection Agency registers pesticides but not pest control devices. The manufacturers are not required to submit any data proving that their product actually does what they say it does. Nevertheless, some of the manufacturers have been prosecuted by EPA and the Federal Trade Commission for making false claims. But there are simply too many of these devices for the government to challenge or go after them all, so it’s “buyer beware.” If you have a pest problem, spend your money with a reliable professional pest control company instead. A good company comes with a guarantee!

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