Holy Moley

A Sucker Born Every Minute:
Ultrasonic & Subsonic Pest Control Devices

"There is in human nature generally more of the fool than of the wise."

-Francis Bacon


Ultrasonic & subsonic pest repellers claim they chase off spiders, ants, mice, rats, gophers, moles, wasps, cockroaches, cats, crows, reptiles, raccoons, deer, rabbits, mosquitos, moths, squirrels, dogs, tics, fleas, bats, all flying insects...everything except visitors from outer space who'll kidnap you & stick ultrasonic devices up your rear end. And as any thinking person might well suspect of anything that claims to be an all-purpose fix, they don't actually work very well for anything at all. If it did work, the rest of the pest control industry would be bankrupt over night.

Some of these lame devices claim they are "laboratory tested" but that's just sneaky. It sometimes means they are tested in electrical labs to be sure they won't kill the user with a shock, not for effectiveness.

Another such product claims to have been "award tested & proved" — but what really does getting your award tested mean? In this case it means some hack promoters gave someone a salesmanship award during some laugh-all-the-way-to-the-bank successful-hoax-products dinner.

All claims of scientific "proof" that ultrasonic sound repels vermin tend to be "proofs" provided by the sellers of these products, without actual scientific citation. If there's a mysterious vague allusions to "independent laboratory" or "field tested," no independent lab or university horticultural extension's field study will ever be named, because those which could be cited & actually did test the devices found them to be worthless. If one looks for the opinions from US agriculture & pest control agencies, consumer organizations, & university research facilities, the manufacturer claims instantly evaporate.

Strangely enough most animals including insects do not have a vastly different hearing range than do humans & any noise so raucus or discomfitting that it would truly annoy small mammals, insects, or any other creature, would annoy humans too.

But as with most scams that are not quite actionable in a court of law, there's always an iota of truth that has been elaborated into a big lie, so that when the Feds get angry, the companies point to that eency weensy truthful starting-place for the lie.

Rodents for instance do hear ultrasonic frequencies. Rats for example are chittering to each other most of the time but we can hear only about one-fifth of their noises & mostly only the "alarm" sounds are in our own hearing range. Which is to say, the most frightening sounds for rats are the ones we too hear; the ultrasonic sounds are friendlier.

So if you point the device at a mouse or a rat & turned it on suddenly, you'd startle the little shit & it'd run off. But left on as a repeat repellant, it only takes a rodent about thirty seconds to figure out a given sound is harmless. But that momentary startle reaction of a few animals becomes the iota of truth upon which companies base the big lie that ultrasonic devices repell all manner of mammal, insect, & vermin.

There are ultrasonic sounds all around us all the time & creatures that do hear outside the human range get used to it, period. This is why the huge body of serious governmental & university pest control literature never recommends ultrasound or subsonic devices, & frequently mentions them only to note that a Rutgers University study proved they're worthless.

The consumer alert literature got so easily obtained that sellers of the bogus ultrasonic devices actually began to use the warnings to promote their "far better" subsonic devices — which have not been on the market nearly so long, & came about strictly as a method of fooling new customers who had become well informed that ultrasonic control devices don't work.

Well you know, a sucker is born every minute. And even in the face of numerous studies there is always going to be some bonehead dufus swearing on a stack of Books of Mormon they turned one of these things on & forever after their dog never scratched, the roses never got aphids, the bats fled for the hills, the woodchucks keeled over dead, the neighbor dogs stopped peeing on the lawn, the squirrels stopped digging up bulbs, the cockroaches bought airline tickets to Detroit, & the mice lined up & did the cha-cha-cha all the way to Argentina.

Professor Leonard R. Askham of Washington State University Department of Horticulture is just one of the uninvested sources to make such pronouncements as Profesor Askham has done: "Ultrasonics & recently subsonics have been tested extensively in the laboratory & field. These devices don't work."

Or Professor Donald Lewis, of the Department of Entymology at Iowa State University, could hardly be any clearer when he wrote: "Any reaction by rodents to ultrasound would be temporary at best because rodents become accustomed to ultrasound & will return to their nesting or feeding areas even in the presence of an ultrasonic device. Furthermore, previous FTC complaints alleged that ultrasound devices do not control insects."

Despite that these devices are known to be bogus, FTC will never shut down the flimflamming purveyors thereof. FTC can only force the purveyors of these worthless gadgets to be slicker in the precise wording of their false claims. Remember even the milk industry was instructed by the FTC to stop claiming "Every Body needs milk" because it is a lie, but they were afterward permitted to claim, "Milk has something for everybody," even if the "something," for some individuals, is hives & vomiting spells. So from the Federal Trade Commission's point of view, deceiving customers is legal, so long as the seller passes muster with any ol' bizarre rationale.


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