Do Ultrasonic Pest Repellents Really Work?

Mouse Pulling Cable
Ultrasonic pest repellents are popular, but simply plugging them in probably won’t end your problems with pests. (New Africa studio)

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.


Torn Cable
While ultrasonic repellents might seem like a good fix, pests can easily adapt to them and continue to naw through. (Andrea Izzotti/Getty Images)

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.


Ultrasonic Pest Repellent
Ultrasonic pest repellents may only be just a temporary fix. (New Africa studio)
  • 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.

Further Reading