Ultrasonic pest repellers are a popular alternative to the chemical pesticides top pest control companies often use. These plug-in or battery-operated devices are marketed as safe and environmentally friendly. The ultrasonic waves they emit are meant to disrupt pests’ nervous systems, making it uncomfortable for them to stay in the area. But does scientific evidence support these claims, or are ultrasonic pest repellers a gimmick? Let’s take a closer look.

The Science Behind Ultrasonic Pest Repellers

Ultrasonic pest repellers are small electronic devices that emit high-frequency sound waves, also known as ultrasonic sound waves, to repel cockroaches, crickets, bed bugs, rodents, and other pests. These devices produce sound at a frequency that is intolerable to pests but inaudible to humans.

Electronic pest repellers’ frequencies typically fall between 20 kilohertz (kHz) and 100 kHz. For perspective, humans can hear sounds with frequencies ranging from 20 hertz (Hz) to 20 kHz. In theory, these high-frequency sounds should irritate and confuse pests, making it difficult for them to communicate, breed, and navigate their surroundings.

Ultimately, the discomfort pests experience should drive them away from the area where the device operates. The sound may even induce an audiogenic seizure response, a physiological response characterized by convulsions, nondirectional running, and cerebral hemorrhage.

Are Ultrasonic Pest Repellers Effective?

Whether ultrasonic pest repellers really work is a subject of debate. Numerous studies testing their effectiveness have reported mixed results. As a result, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued warnings to several ultrasonic pest repeller manufacturers stating their claims of effectiveness were not supported by scientific evidence.

A few studies do suggest that these devices can be effective in certain situations. However, researchers obtained the best results with repellent devices that pest control professionals and researchers had developed rather than commercially available devices.

According to a review of sonic pest repellents published by the University of Arizona, “This success is likely attributed to the development of techniques and devices that target specific species.” The devices researchers develop often use sounds derived from an organism rather than generic computer-generated tones. One example is a 2013 study that successfully used sound to deter bark beetles—including a playback of that species’ own stress call.

However, most scientific studies have found few or no signs that commercially available ultrasonic pest repellers actually work. Researchers at Kansas State University tested three devices in 2002 and found that none were able to repel ants in field or laboratory trials. Similarly, researchers observed no effect on bed bugs in a 2012 study that tested four devices or in a 2007 experiment involving German cockroaches and two types of mosquitoes.

Note that even the best ultrasonic pest repeller will not solve the underlying cause of pest problems. It will not eliminate the food sources that critters find appealing or the way they got into your home in the first place. As a result, you likely need to use other pest control methods simultaneously to address an existing infestation.

Factors That Affect Ultrasonic Pest Repellers

Several factors can influence an ultrasonic pest repeller’s effectiveness, including its placement and the size of the room it’s in.

  • Space size: Larger rooms will likely require multiple devices, as sound waves emitted by a single device may not be strong enough to reach all corners of the room. Read the manufacturer’s guidelines on the recommended coverage area for each device to ensure adequate pest control.
  • Placement: Furniture, walls, and other household objects can block or absorb high-frequency sound waves, limiting their ability to reach pests. To improve your device’s reach, place it in an open space at a height that allows the sound waves to travel unobstructed. Additionally, placing devices near known pest entry points or nesting areas may increase their effectiveness.
  • Pest type: Most studies have found these devices to be largely ineffective in repelling insects such as roaches, mosquitoes, and bed bugs. Furthermore, research has shown them to have limited effectiveness against rodents, with some rodents becoming accustomed to the sound over time. To increase your odds of success, look for a device designed for the pest you want to deter and read reviews focused on that type of pest.
  • Features: Some devices offer adjustable frequencies, potentially increasing their effectiveness. By adjusting the frequency, you may be able to better target a specific type of pest. You should also consider the quality of the device and its power source. Models that plug into an electrical outlet would be the simplest option for in-home use, while outdoor use may require a portable, battery-powered device.
  • Environment: Certain environmental factors, such as temperature and humidity, may affect ultrasonic pest repellers’ performance. High humidity levels can absorb sound waves, potentially reducing the device’s effective range. Moreover, background noise can interfere with the ultrasonic sound waves, diminishing their effectiveness.
  • Pest population density: In some situations, the device’s repelling effect may be less noticeable due to the sheer number of pests already present. If you have a large pest population, consider combining your ultrasonic pest repeller with other pest control methods to achieve your desired results.

Other Considerations

When deciding whether to use ultrasonic pest repellers, consider the potential risks, the cost compared to other pest control methods, and customer reviews of popular devices.

Potential Side Effects

While ultrasonic pest repellers are generally considered safe for humans, some concerns have been raised about their potential effects on pets. For instance, guinea pigs, hamsters, and rabbits could be affected by ultrasonic rodent repellents. Before using an ultrasonic pest repeller, research the hearing range of any pets in your home and compare it to the frequency range of the device you’re considering purchasing.

Additionally, the high-frequency sounds these devices emit can sometimes interfere with other electronic devices, such as hearing aid or pacemakers. Be sure to consult a medical professional if you have concerns about the effect of ultrasonic sound waves on a medical device. Some users have also claimed the sounds seem to interfere with their burglar alarm systems and telephone conversations.


The cost of ultrasonic pest repellers varies significantly depending on brand, features, and quality. However, they are generally affordable compared to the cost of other pest control methods, such as professional pest control or chemical pesticides.

While the up-front cost of ultrasonic pest repellers may be relatively high, they require minimal maintenance and have a long life span. They are not without their downsides, though. If an ultrasonic device fails to deter or eliminate pest infestations, you will likely have to invest in alternative methods anyway. Many pest control companies offer affordable monthly plans that include ongoing treatment for several pests, from mice extermination services to routine pest inspections.

Customer Reviews

Customer reviews of popular electronic pest repellers suggest that many renters and homeowners find them effective. Dozens of devices on Amazon have ratings of 4 out of 5 stars or higher across more than 1,000 reviews. A few devices have even earned an average of 4.6 to 4.9 stars.

Still, not all reviews are positive, and it can be hard to determine which reviews are legitimate. We recommend carefully reading customer reviews to get a comprehensive understanding of the potential benefits and limitations of each specific device. Pay special attention to any reviews that describe a situation similar to yours. For instance, if you plan to use the devices inside your home to deter spiders, look for reviews that mention indoor use and spiders.

Our Conclusion

Ultrasonic pest repellers have been debated for many years, with studies reporting varying degrees of effectiveness. Though research has shown that sound can be an effective pest deterrent, the devices available to consumers may not use the right type or frequency of sound to remedy infestations. Nevertheless, some customers have reported modest success.

Ultimately, deciding to use ultrasonic pest repellers as part of your pest control strategy will depend on your circumstances and the specific pests you are dealing with. Professional pest control services or alternative DIY solutions may be necessary to address more severe infestations or cases where ultrasonic pest repellers prove ineffective.

FAQ About Ultrasonic Pest Repellers

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