Port Huron Hospital – a leader in healing, your partner in health.

June 2013

Do Ultrasonic Bug Repellent Devices Work?

Many people detest bugs, especially when they find them in their homes. Keeping bugs at bay may prompt you to try just about anything-maybe even ultrasonic bug repellent devices. But do they work? Simple steps to prevent insects indoors in the first place may be far more effective.

Photo of an insect display case

Pest control devices

Maybe you've seen commercials for them on TV or noticed them on store shelves. Ultrasonic bug repellent devices use high-frequency sound waves to fend off bugs. We can't hear the sound the devices emit. But, according to the ads, those pesky pests can. Confused and agitated by the noise, they supposedly flee the area.

Unfortunately, pest control may not be as easy as buying an ultrasonic device. From cockroaches to bedbugs, evidence is scant on whether the devices work. In the latest study in the Journal of Economic Entomology, researchers tested four commercial ultrasonic devices on bedbugs. In a controlled setting, they watched how the insects behaved with the devices on and off. They concluded that none of the products repelled the bedbugs.

A less inviting home

Even though ultrasonic devices may not work against bugs, you have other options. Pesticides may immediately come to mind. But you may not necessarily need them. The best tactic: Not providing pests with food, shelter, or water. Here's how to make your home less inviting:

  • Clean up clutter. Stacks of newspapers, boxes, and other paper products are convenient hiding spots for bugs.

  • Put away food. Don't leave it sitting out, especially overnight. Pet food, in particular, can lure pests. Take garbage out regularly, too.

  • Stop up any leaks or other plumbing problems. Discard standing water in pet bowls, plant trays, and other areas in and around your home.

  • Seal up cracks and other places where bugs can enter. Use caulk around baseboards and cabinets. Wire mesh is good for holes.

  • Inspect secondhand furniture, like a bed or couch, for bedbugs before bringing it into your home. Look for small, rust-colored spots or the bugs themselves. They're small, flat, and reddish-brown.

Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.

Proper Use of Pesticides

Pesticides are chemicals designed to eliminate or prevent pests, such as insects and rodents. They can be toxic to humans, so using them properly is important. If you decide to use a pesticide, follow these safety tips:

  • Choose the correct pesticide. The product's label will list the bugs it targets.

  • Always read the directions first. Never use pesticides designed for the outdoors inside.

  • Don't use more than directed on the label. More isn't necessarily better and may harm you and your family.

  • Remove food, children, pets, and even toys from the area you intend to treat.

  • Wear protective clothing, such as rubber gloves and a long-sleeved shirt, when applying pesticides.

  • Wash hands immediately after handling any pesticides. You should also change clothes and wash them.

  • Keep chemicals in their original containers. It will help prevent accidental poisonings. Plus, you will always have the directions for use at hand.

As the weather warms, you may be troubled by outdoor pests, such as mosquitoes and ticks, too. Click here to learn about keeping them away.