60-Second Tech

Bedbugs Ignore Alleged Ultrasonic Annoyers

Researchers found no proof that ultrasonic devices sold to repel these pesky blood suckers could deliver on that promise. Larry Greenemeier reports

Your worst fears about those insect bites on your leg have been confirmed—your home has bedbugs. Don’t panic. There are ways of dealing with these blood-sucking pests. Unfortunately, they do not include gadgets that promise to get rid of bed bugs using ultrasonic frequencies.

Little is known about bedbug sensitivity to sound. But Northern Arizona University researchers report that commercial devices producing ultrasound do not repel bedbugs. In lab tests, the insects proved quite indifferent to sonic assaults. Their report is in the Journal of Economic Entomology. [K. M. Yturralde and  R. W. Hofstetter,
Efficacy of Commercially Available Ultrasonic Pest Repellent Devices to Affect Behavior of Bed Bugs (Hemiptera: Cimicidae)]

It’s also unproven whether similar ultrasonic devices sold to get rid of mosquitoes, cockroaches, fleas or ants work as advertised.

What is the best way to get rid of bedbugs? In a Scientific American article published earlier this year, University of Kentucky entomologist Kenneth Haynes noted that a combination of approaches—including heat treatment and a drying agent—works best.

Haynes recommends calling in trained professionals rather than taking on the problem yourself. So sleep tight. And, ya know…

—Larry Greenemeier

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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