Bed bugs are definitely a nuisance. These insects can crawl into any part of your bed and hide so effectively that you can’t find them. It isn’t easy to get rid of them, and people often look for solutions at places some would consider unlikely. One of the possible solutions for bed bugs may be using sound to repel them. It’s been found that animals don’t like sounds that are pitched highly, and this could be a solution for repelling bed bugs. So, can bed bugs be repelled by using a high-frequency sound?
Bed bugs can’t be repelled by high-frequency sounds, or ultrasound frequencies, in other words. It’s very likely that bed bugs can’t even hear ultrasound. A study (2012) has proven that these devices aren’t effective at all when it comes to combating bed bugs. These tools are not repelling bed bugs.
Today, we’ll be taking a look at the connection between sound and insects. We will be answering questions like what is sound, what is high frequency (ultrasonic) sound, can bed bugs hear sounds, can bed bugs hear ultrasounds, and lastly, can you repel bed bugs by using a high-frequency sound?
Let’s get started!
What Is Sound? (Short and Easy)
Sound is a vibration that’s propagated as an acoustic wave through a medium. The medium that we hear sound through is the air. When something vibrates, it repeatedly squeezes the air. A pressure wave is created that is transmitted through the air.
When it arrives at the human ear, it is transformed into a liquid wave and then converted into electrical impulses by sensory hairs. We interpret this signal as sound.
If the vibrations are stronger – the sound will be louder, and the sound will naturally become quieter as the waves lose energy.
The pitch is determined by the frequency of the vibrating object. And sometimes an ultrasound arises.
What Is High-Frequency Sound (Ultrasonic)?
Every sound changes due to its vibrations. Vibrating speed is essential when it comes to sound waves – this is what we call a pitch. Pitch is the quality of a sound, and it depends solely on the speed of vibrations. Different materials produce different pitches, as not all materials vibrate equally.
We hear high-pitched sounds if an object vibrates quickly, and we hear low-pitched sounds if an object vibrates slowly.
A sound of high frequency is usually difficult to hear. They’re very distinctive and easy to recognize, though. They’re measured at 2000 Hz and higher (like whistling, screaming, squeaking, nails on a chalkboard, and mosquito buzzing).
However, ultrasounds can’t be heard by the human ear, and they’re well over 20 kHz.
Dogs, for example, can hear and recognize these sounds, but humans usually can’t. As most sounds are made up of multiple vibrations, it’s possible to hear a part of an ultrasonic sound, but not the whole sound. Similar to seeing a blurred image.
Can Bed Bugs Hear Sounds? (Surprising Fact)
It’s still not very clear whether bed bugs can hear. This actually applies to all insects, as it’s still intensely debated whether insects can hear.
But some insects show reactions to sounds – not all sounds, but there are parts of the wave spectrum that cause reactions in some insect species as they detect a vibration.
So, basically yes, pests can “hear” somehow.
But they have very different organs with a very special structure. Cockroaches, for example, have a cerci organ that consists of a pair of jointed filamentous structures. These antennae can detect air movements around it (and sense approaching predators for example).
Mosquitoes, on the other hand, hear in the near field via Johnston’s organ, which in turn contains small antennae that can perceive vibrations.
However, these organs are not suitable for longer distances (from 10m). This usually requires an eardrum or tympanic organ.
Can Bed Bugs Hear Ultrasounds?
There is absolutely no empirical evidence that supports the claim that bed bugs can actually hear ultrasounds. Even if bedbugs were able to sense vibrations with their legs or fine hair, it is unlikely that this would include ultrasound.
Due to this limitation, it is not possible to repel bed bugs with ultrasound.
This assumption is impressively confirmed in this research. There were no documented reactions to ultrasounds from the bed bugs in question. They did not move any closer or further away from the source of the sound.
Can You Repel Bed Bugs by Using a High-Frequency Sound?
As it’s stated in the previous section, bed bugs don’t react to ultrasonic sounds – meaning that they aren’t repelled by them, just like they’re not attracted to them. In fact, they’ve stayed surprisingly neutral throughout the whole experiment.
They exhibited very strong tendencies to aggregate. At least half the bed bugs would concentrate on a neutral area during the experiment, seemingly showing that they’re not having any positive or negative reactions to the ultrasonic sound that way played.
Conclusions that can be drawn from this are obvious:
Ultrasound tools that are often promoted on the internet as ‘beg bug repellants’ are useless.
Sounds of a high frequency don’t repel bed bugs, and that’s been proven by several different pieces of research. If you take a look at this research, you’ll see that it was actually conducted using these very same tools (purchased on the internet), and the bed bugs didn’t have a reaction to them.
This goes to show that these devices are scams, as they’re completely ineffective, and they’re most definitely not going to solve anyone’s problem with bed bugs.
Also interested in UV-Light, pesticides, and natural remedies against Bed Bugs? You should continue here: Potential Bed Bug Killers and their Effectiveness (with table)
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 host species (humans) and by appliances and machines found in homes. Therefore, it may be possible that bed bugs 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.
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Materials provided by Entomological Society of America. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
Cite This Page:
Entomological Society of America. "Commercial ultrasonic frequency devices do not repel bed bugs, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121210080831.htm>.
Entomological Society of America. (2012, December 10). Commercial ultrasonic frequency devices do not repel bed bugs, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 13, 2021 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121210080831.htm
Entomological Society of America. "Commercial ultrasonic frequency devices do not repel bed bugs, study suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121210080831.htm (accessed October 13, 2021).
Bed bugs don't make buzzing sounds, crackling sounds or squeaking sounds like other types of bugs do. This is because they need to stay hidden at all times. Making noise would give away their location. The fact that you can't hear bed bugs makes them much harder to find.
Click to see full answer
Beside this, can you kill bed bugs with sound?
The idea behind this home remedy for bed bugs is to use ultrasonic devices, typically those that you plug into the wall. The high frequencies of the sound waves emitted from the device is believed to be uncomfortable for bed bugs, forcing them to leave the area.
Secondly, what bugs do I hear at night? Katydids, crickets, and cicadas are the three types of bugs primarily responsible for those classic summery insect noises you hear at night.
In respect to this, do electronic pest repellers work on bedbugs?
Answer. Sorry, but there is still no evidence that electronic bug repellers work against any pests, including bed bugs. They claim to use high frequency sound waves, seismic vibrations, or electromagnetic output to repel insects, rodents, and virtually every other pest.
What smells do bed bugs hate?
LavenderLavender produces a scent that bedbugs hate the most. It is one of the best scents that you should consider using when you want to deal with the bedbug problem that you have been having in your home for some time. You can use any products in the market that contains lavender.
Buzz Off: Bedbugs Unfazed By Ultrasonic Devices
Bedbugs are becoming a common nuisance in many places. But cheap ultrasonic devices advertised as bedbug repellents don't work, scientists say. Carolyn Kaster/AP hide caption
Bedbugs are becoming a common nuisance in many places. But cheap ultrasonic devices advertised as bedbug repellents don't work, scientists say.Carolyn Kaster/AP
With bedbugs bunking just about everywhere these days, people battling the bloodsucking insects may be tempted to try their hand at driving them away.
But ultrasonic bug zappers, which retail for less than $25, aren't the solution, say entomologists who tested some of the devices.
"I can understand on a personal level how you would want to go to great lengths and get rid of them and protect yourself," says Kasey Yturralde, a grad student in entomology at Northern Arizona University. She had a memorable trip back in 2006 when she ran into them while visiting a friend. "It was pretty traumatic," she tells Shots.
Recently, Yturralde and her co-author Richard W. Hofstetter tried out four different ultrasonic devices available on Amazon: one designed specifically for bedbugs and three that claimed to repel insects and small furry mammalian pests.
Their simple experimental design consisted of two 5-gallon buckets lined with sound-muffling insulation that were connected by a tube. An ultrasonic device was placed in one bucket, and eight to 10 bedbugs were placed in the tube.
More care was given to how the bedbugs were housed in the lab. The researchers kept them in large jars, like those used for canning, which were placed in bins full of soapy water. And every lip or edge over which an rogue bedbug would have to crawl was covered in a slippery substance a little like liquid Teflon, Yturralde says, to keep them from escaping.
In test after test, the bedbugs showed no preference for either bucket. "They were equally distributed across the two arenas," Yturralde notes. None of the four devices drove the bedbugs away.
It wasn't entirely illogical to think that ultrasonic frequencies might work against bedbugs. After all, the bark beetles Yturralde and Hofstetter normally study communicate in the ultrasonic range of sound. The devices could interfere with bug communication. But, of course, not all bugs act the same.
"There have been tests of these devices with other insects, and they haven't shown any effect," Yturralde says. Now people can know that they won't be effective on bedbugs either, she says, "and move onto other means of extermination."
The results appear in the Journal of Economic Entomology.
Sound bed frequency bugs
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