Bed bugs are not repelled by commercial ultrasonic frequency devices

December 10, 2012

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.

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 (humans) and by appliances and machines found in homes. Therefore, it may be possible that 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.

Explore further: Spring breakers should keep an eye out for bed bugs during travels

Related Stories

Control, treatment of bed bugs challenging

March 31, 2009

A review of previously published articles indicates there is little evidence supporting an effective treatment of bites from bed bugs, that these insects do not appear to transmit disease, and control and eradication of bed ...

Repulsive smell could combat bed bugs

March 31, 2011

In recent years, bed bug infestations have become increasingly common in Swedish homes. There are two different species of bed bug that suck blood from humans – the common bed bug and the tropical bed bug. Increased ...

Bug-bomb foggers are no match for bed bugs

June 4, 2012

Consumer products known as "bug bombs" or "foggers" have been sold for decades for use against many common household insects. However, recent research published in the Journal of Economic Entomology (JEE) shows these products ...

New technology decodes chemical messages sent by bed bugs

December 5, 2012

Bed bugs exchange specific chemical signals corresponding to particular behaviors, and researchers have now combined two unusual technologies to sniff out these signals in a matter of seconds. The results are published December ...

Recommended for you

A better way to read the genome

October 9, 2015

UConn researchers have sequenced the RNA of the most complicated gene known in nature, using a hand-held sequencer no bigger than a cell phone.

Threat posed by 'pollen thief' bees uncovered

October 9, 2015

A new University of Stirling study has uncovered the secrets of 'pollen thief' bees - which take pollen from flowers but fail to act as effective pollinators - and the threat they pose to certain plant species.

Mapping the protein universe

October 9, 2015

To understand how life works, figure out the proteins first. DNA is the architect of life, but proteins are the workhorses. After proteins are built using DNA blueprints, they are constantly at work breaking down and building ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.