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Do Electronic Pest Control Products Work on Cockroaches?

We have electric tools for every use, from screwing in screws to removing corks from wine bottles. So why shouldn’t we be able to harness watts and volts to wipe out one of humanity’s most hated creatures, the lowly cockroach? The thing is, electronic devices designed to chase off cockroaches don’t seem to provide great results. You might have better luck throwing your toaster at cockroaches.

Ultrasonic pest control devices emit high-frequency sounds, beyond the range of human hearing. This purportedly affects a pest’s nervous system. Cockroaches, by the way, detect these sounds through special hairs on their private parts—you can make up your own jokes about that. But while ultrasonic devices annoy the heck out of crickets, they have little repellant effect on roaches (or ants, spiders, mosquitos, and mice). That’s according to an extensive study called “Ultrasound and Arthropod Pest Control” by Kansas State University.

Cockroaches exposed to ultrasonic frequencies move around a bit more than usual, but they don’t seem to be bothered by the sound. In addition, several British researchers have come to the conclusion that even though people can’t hear the high-pitched sounds, they might cause unpleasant side effects in some folks. Additionally, the devices are not regulated in the United States under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). And the EPA does not require the kind of testing that it does for chemical pesticides. All that being said, there are plenty of positive reviews of these products online. Some claim they work great over the course of a few weeks. But then, someone complained that mice built their home behind the thing.

It would be a fantastic thing if you could plug in a high-tech pest repellant and drive off ten kinds of vermin without the use of chemicals. But until that day arrives, you’re better off cleaning up your kitchen and basement so roaches aren’t attracted to your home. Be sure to get some roach bait stations to kill the roaches you see and also the ones living in colonies nearby.

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