If only life could be so easy, right? Just plug in an electronic pest control device in each room of your home and your roach problems will soon be a thing of the past. This solution has broad appeal because of its clean and easy implementation. No sticky gels or powders to disperse, no traps to lay, just plug it in the wall and the roaches are gone. Does sound enticing, doesn’t it?
It is because of this broad appeal that many snake oil salesman have marketed electronic pest deterrents to an uninformed public. Perhaps you have seen the late-night TV infomercials hosted by slick-looking shysters shilling these products. So do these devices really help control cockroaches and other pests, or are they merely a gimmick? (You may have already inferred the answer from my derisive tone.)
How does electronic pest control work?
There are two types of electronic pest repellents on the market. The most prevalent sends ultrasonic radio waves radiating away from the transmitter plugged into your electrical outlet. Humans can not sense thesm, but roaches, rodents, and other critters can.
The biggest problem is that these radio waves can not kill roaches or other pests. Instead, they irritate and stimulate them, driving them into motion. So electronic repellents can actually appear to make your roach problem worse by making the roaches more active and visible. Because the radio waves do not kill roaches, these devices cannot accurately be called “electronic cockroach killer.” Currently, the only way to actually kill roaches is by using a pesticide.
Another problem with these electric devices is that the radio waves are easily obstructed by furniture and walls. The ultrasonic waves do not travel a great distance, and even if you put one in every room of your home they are still not going to be very effective.
There is also a second, and less prevalent, type of electronic pest control that works by altering the electromagnetic frequencies in your home. By plugging it into the electrical outlet, it claims to use the copper electrical wiring throughout the home to create electromagnetic disturbances that drives away pests. Unfortunately, this type of devices not highly effective either.
Are electronic pest repellents effective on roaches?
First, a little history. The manufacturers of these devices once had lofty claims of effectiveness printed on their labels. In 2001, however, the Federal Trade Commission warned the companies that these claims needed to be backed up by actual scientific information, or else cease. Since then, the problems with false advertising on electronic pest repellents have markedly diminished, thankfully. Now, for the most part, these products promise a reduction in the presence pests, rather than complete elimination.
For roach infestations in particular, electronic cockroach killers are largely ineffective. You’re better off using the traditional cockroach killers such as boric acid powder or roach gel bait. To learn how to eliminate large roach populations, please see my detailed article on dealing with a roach infestation. If you have a small number of roaches, traps can be effective.
In order to rid your home of cockroaches, you have to eliminate all of them. Electronic cockroach killers can’t do that. In a best case scenario, they can only drive away some of the roaches, leaving others to breed and continually produce new roaches. Pesticides and roach poisons can kill all the roaches, ending their life cycle.
For further confirmation on the ineffectiveness of electronic pest deterrence, take a gander at customer reviews of these products on your favorite online retailer website, such as Amazon or Walmart. The majority say that they either do not work at all, or have very little effect at repelling roaches or other pests from their homes.
Traditional methods for eliminating roaches and other pests are more effective
At this point, it should be quite apparent that my opinion is that these “electronic roach killers” are more of a gimmick than anything else. You will be better off sticking to the tried-and-true products such as boric acid or roach killing paste. These electronic traps sure do sound nice in theory, and maybe one day the science will get there. In the meantime, my favorite roach killers are listed just below: