People want to have power over pests. And if there’s a nifty non-chemical gadget with which the battle can be fought, all the better. There are a lot of cool tools available for the mechanical control part of IPM. Figuring out which set to use for each unique problem is one of my favorite parts of this job. But you only want to put tools that work in your toolkit.
Almost every development I’ve worked in has had residents who sing praises for ultrasonic pest repellers. I'm not going to theorize why residents are convinced they work, but no research has been able to prove that these devices work reliably to get rid of pests. Despite this, there are many makes and models available. And they aren't cheap!
Ultrasonic or electromagnetic devices emit a noise that humans can’t hear, but the target pest can. Supposedly this makes the pest go away. There are ones designed for birds, bats, mice, cockroaches, and even mosquitoes.
Today I was sent the abstract from research by Carlos F. S. Andrade and Isaías Cabrini published in the Journal of Vector Ecology (35 (1): 75-78. 2010) titled, “Electronic Mosquito Repellers Induce Increased Biting Rates in Aedes aegypti Mosquitoes.” You read right—not only are they useless, they may increase the risk of biting!
Since we’re on the topic of the Maine state bird—check out NPIC’s insect repellent locater. It has you enter your target pest (tick or mosquito or both) and the time you’ll be outside then it suggests repellent products. http://pi.ace.orst.edu/repellents/.
Another great source for mosquito information is TAMU’s Mosquito Safari: http://insects.tamu.edu/feature/mosquitosafari/index.html
There are auditory repelling devices that DO work for pest control—ones that play distress calls that scare off the target pest. These are used in bird control. In fact, I was sailing last weekend out of a marina that used to have one to deter birds from landing on (and messing up) the boats.
The moral of this story is to look for research before purchasing a pest control device. Or post a comment here and I’ll try to dig up the answer for you!
But what about our residents who are convinced the ones for mice and roaches work? Just referencing research probably won't get you far. Give residents an alternative that works better (and may cost less).
Print off and hand out copies of the Cleaning Supply Shopping List. Download Cleaning Supply Shopping List. Explain that if they spend their $20 on cleaning supplies and use them, they won’t need to repel the pests. The pests won’t have any reason to come in, in the first place.
Ditch the ultrasonic devices and save the outlets for air conditioners and fans. Stay cool this week. As we say in the Northeast, it’s a scortcha!