10 December 2012

Commercial Sonic Devices Using Ultrasonic Frequencies Ineffective Against Bed Bugs

Studies initially show that ultrasonic bed bug repellers have no effect in the dispersion or eradication of these blood sucking insects.

Bed bug infestations have been in the news and have garnered much mainstream attention. From popular personalities to the common everyday person, no one is spared from these small blood sucking insects.

The bed bug (Cimex lectularius) are small wingless insects that feed on blood. They are guided to feed by the carbon dioxide exhaled by their victims. Although these bugs are associated to feed at night, they are not exclusively nocturnal.

Bed bugs does not cause any major illness. They do irritate the skin and can cause rashes or can be harmful for people with allergies. Most suffer psychological trauma more than anything when it comes to bed bugs.

They are present everywhere, from chairs and furniture in the office to beds at home or in a hotel. Proper knowledge is required to detect whether bed bugs are present in an area and there are pesticides that can control and eradicate these pests.

Because of the media attention that these bed bugs have been getting, there have been lots of services and devices offered to control these pests.

Ultrasonic frequency devices do not work on bed bugs

Alternative means of controlling urban insect pests by using ultrasonic frequencies are available and marketed to the public. However, few of these devices have been demonstrated as being effective in repelling insect pests such as mosquitoes, cockroaches, or ants. Despite the lack of evidence for the efficacy of such devices, they continue to be sold and new versions targeting bed bugs are readily available.

However, according to a soon-to-be-published article in the Journal of Economic Entomology, commercial devices that produce ultrasound frequencies are NOT promising tools for repelling bed bugs. In "Efficacy of Commercially Available Ultrasonic Pest Repellent Devices to Affect Behavior of Bed Bugs (Hemiptera: Cimicidae)," , authors K. M. Yturralde and R. W. Hofstetter report the results of their tests of four commercially available electronic pest repellent devices designed to repel insect and mammalian pests by using sound.

Video: Bed Bugs

The devices, which were purchased online, were used according to manufacturers' instructions. A sound arena was created for each ultrasonic device, in addition to a control arena which featured no sound. However, the authors found that there were no significant differences in the number of bed bugs observed in the control (no sound) and sound arenas, and that bed bugs were neither deterred nor attracted to the arena with the sound device.

The authors conclude that the ultrasonic devices may not have deterred or attracted bed bugs because they may not have produced the right combination of frequencies. Bed bugs are commonly exposed to frequencies made by their host species (humans) and by appliances and machines found in homes. Therefore, it may be possible that bed bugs also would exploit sounds made by their human hosts, such as breathing or snoring. Future studies of bed bug bioacoustics may be served well by using low-frequency sounds produced by host species.


Entomological Society of America
Journal of Economic Entomology
Efficacy of Commercially Available Ultrasonic Pest Repellent Devices to Affect Behavior of Bed Bugs (Hemiptera: Cimicidae)
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