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Pest Problem Guide

Rodent Facts and Frequently Asked Questions

According to the Centers for Disease Control, rats bite more than 45,000 people each year. Rats contaminate and destroy enough food worldwide each year to feed 200 million people, according to estimates of the World Health Organization. In the U.S. rats cause between $500 million and $1 billion a year in property and health losses. Rodent-associated diseases in the U.S. include plague, murine typhus, salmonellosis, rat bite fever, leptospirosis, trichinosis, toxoplasmosis, and hantavirus.

The rat population in the U.S. is estimated to be at least one rat for every person. Rats can jump three feet straight up, and four feet outwards, from a standing position. They can burrow three feet straight down into the ground; chew through building materials, glass, and cinderblock; swim 1/2 mile in open water and against current in sewer lines; and climb up inside the pipes with diameters between 1 1/2 and 4 inches. A rat's teeth are so strong it can bite through aluminum, lead, and other metals.

A female house mouse gives birth to 6 young about 19 days after mating. She is ready to mate again in two days. She can produce 6 to 10 litters a year. Each of her young is ready to mate in two months. Remarkably, all her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great, great-grandchildren can have offspring in the same year. Two mice starting to breed on New Year's day could theoretically have as many as 31,000 descendents by December 31.

Though bats are hated and feared, they may also be the single best controller of the insect kingdom. Bats may eat as many as 600 mosquito-size insects in an hour. An average bat colony may eat 1/2 million insects in one evening.

Some 20% of fires of unknown origin are thought to be caused by rodents gnawing through electrical wiring. It takes only 3 weeks for a young rat or mouse to start creating as much damage as their parents. Rodents can enter a building through a half-inch hole. It's important to seal openings and cracks around pipes and wires and to fix damaged screens and doors.

1. How does the PestChaser work?
The PestChaser emits high frequency ultrasonic sound waves between 32 and 62 kHz to create an acoustically hostile environment that repels rodents from sound-protected rooms. It's kinder than traps, safer than poisons, and completely inaudible to people and non-rodent pets. Unlike traps and poisons, the PestChaser minimizes human contact with disease-bearing rodents (no dead rodents to dispose of).

2. Why can't I hear the PestChaser?
Ultrasonic sound is a frequency too high to be heard by the human ear (your eardrum can't vibrate fast enough). People can hear sounds ranging from 20 to 20,000 cycles per second, while dogs and cats can hear up to 27,000 cycles per second. The range of other animals can be even higher. When measured electronically, these frequencies are expressed in "hertz", defined as a unit equal to one cycle per second. Ultrasonic sound waves are frequencies over 20,000 hertz, or 20 kilohertz (kHz). The PestChaser is designed to continually and automatically sweep an ultrasonic frequency range between 32 and 62 kHz, well above the hearing range of humans and common pets (cats, dogs, birds, fish). Rodents and some other pests can clearly hear these frequencies. At high intensity the sound can induce auditory stress.

3. How does ultrasound affect rodents?
Ultrasound can repel rodents by subjecting them to intense auditory stress. Very simply, ultrasound hurts their ears. In a nutshell, this a classic animal behavior modification technique. Unlike traps and poisons, ultrasound does not kill rodents. The PestChaser has the ability to provide long-term reductions in rodent populations by creating a "rodent-unfriendly" environment that discourages rodent infestations.

4. Will rodents get used to the PestChaser?
No. The PestChaser uses a complex "swept" frequency with multiple "peaks" between 32 and 62 kHz. Intensity, complexity and changing frequencies prevent rodents from getting used to the sound. There are a number of ultrasonic repellers made which emit only a single continuous tone and/or turn the tone on and off at a regular interval. These units will fail to repel rodents for more than a short period of time, if at all.

5. Can ultrasound be heard by my rodent family pets?
Yes, absolutely. Rodent pets include mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, ferrets, and squirrels. Never install a PestChaser in rooms inhabited by rodent pets as the sound will cause your pet severe auditory stress.

6. Does ultrasound go through walls?
No. In fact, ultrasonic waves behave more like light than sound. For example, music from your stereo can fill your entire house and, if loud enough, can be heard through closed doors by your neighbors. Ultrasound cannot penetrate any solid surface (walls, floors, ceilings) or travel around corners. This is why you need a PestChaser for each room where you have a rodent problem. To visualize how ultrasound travels, imagine that the PestChaser speaker is a flood light. The sound will radiate outward in a cone shape, throwing "shadows" behind solid objects and casting very little "light" into other rooms. The diagram illustrates how ultrasound "bounces" off hard surfaces to fill an average-sized room with ultrasonic sound waves.

7. How much square footage will each PestChaser cover?
It can vary greatly depending on each individual room or space. Ultrasound is a directional sound wave. Its physical properties do not allow it to penetrate any solid surface. In addition, ultrasound is a fragile sound wave which dissipates (attenuates) rapidly with distance, and may have little effect on rodents more than 20 feet from the sound speaker. The rule regarding square footage coverage is simple: an ultrasonic device can only cover the room in which it is installed; in a 10' x 10' room it covers 100 sq. ft., in a double car garage it covers 800 sq. ft. If the room is as large as 1000 square feet, adequate coverage can be delivered if there are not a lot of obstructions like furniture or stored products in the space. With obstructions, you will need to install more than one unit for maximum effectiveness.

8. Which PestChaser model is best for me, the direct plug-in or the table top model?
The PC1000 Direct Plug-In model is designed to plug directly into an unobstructed wall outlet and is perfect for kitchens, hallways, bathrooms, and other areas. Since ultrasound is directional, it is important not to obstruct it by placing the unit behind furniture, drapes, etc. In the event you do not have an unobstructed wall outlet available or need to use an extension cord, the PC2020 Dual Speaker Table Top Model is the best option, since it has a 6' cord. The PC2020 is ideal in living rooms, bedrooms, and other areas where furniture is obstructing available outlets. Place the PC2020 on a tabletop, bookshelf, or any flat surface.

9. Will the Dual Speaker Table Top Model cover twice as much area as the Direct Plug-in unit?
No. Even though our Table Top Model has two speakers, it will not cover twice as much area, nor will any other ultrasonic product in spite of what may be claimed by their makers. Here's a simple test to prove the point. Put two identical transistor radios set at the same volume side by side and step back to any distance and listen carefully. Then turn off one of the radios and listen again. You will hear the same volume at the same distance whether you have one or two radios. The simple truth is that whether there are two or ten speakers in the same case on the same plane, the coverage potential is not increased. We purposely mounted the two speakers on a curved plane (note curved speaker grill on the PC2020) to increase coverage on either side of the unit. Remember, any very large space will require multiple units placed strategically to deliver maximum effective coverage.

10. How much does the PestChaser cost to operate?
The PestChaser costs less than 20 cents per month to operate on a 24 hour basis. Keep it plugged in at all times. The PestChaser draws only 2 watts. Assume an electricity rate of .13 per KWH (which is a high-end estimate). 2 watts x 24 hrs. x 31 days = 1488 watts per month / 1000 = 1.5 KWH x .13 = .195 ยข per month.

11. When can I expect results?
The field test studies that Sonic conducted for Canadian registration showed a marked reduction in rodent activity in 6 to 10 days on average. One should never expect instantaneous results.

12. If I can't hear the PestChaser, how do I know it's working?
When the PestChaser is plugged in, you will see a LED light behind the speaker grill. This light tells you the PestChaser is working properly. Even though the Table Top model has two speakers, there is only one LED. You may also hear a very slight audible sound component if you are within 2 feet of the PestChaser.

13. How long will the PestChaser last?
The estimated service life of each unit is from 5 to 7 years. However, many PestChasers are still working after 10 or more years in service. No adjustment or service is required.

14. Does ultrasound affect insects?
Some insect species can produce or perceive sound in ultrasonic frequencies and are affected by high-frequency sound. That is not to say that it can effectively repel them or control them. There has been little true scientific research to determine if ultrasonic sound generators could produce effective insect control results. You may find that some insects seem to respond to ultrasound while others are oblivious to it. Sonic makes no claims that the PestChaser can be used for insect pest control. We believe that it is improper for any company to make specific insect claims unless backed by validated scientific studies.

Straight Talk from the Manufacturer About Insects
Fleas, flies, cockroaches, ants, bees, crickets, moths, wasps, mosquitoes, moles, voles, gophers and deer. PestChaser gets rid of them all, right? Wrong. The most common question we are asked is if the PestChaser will get rid of insects and bugs. The person asking that question rarely understands the scope of it.Consider that there are over 1,000,000 species of insects cataloged and each year many new insect species are discovered. The insect world is so diverse that class Insecta it is divided into 26 orders; each insect order can have many, many families, genii and species within it. Incidentally all bugs are, in fact, insects of the Order Hemiptera. Obviously using the word insects encompasses a huge body of living creatures. Even narrowing it down to an Order such as Otroptera that holds cockroaches, crickets, grasshoppers, etc., or Hymenoptera that holds ants, bees, wasps, etc. can still involve thousands of individually evolved insect species.

For any manufacturer to make a claim to affect the all inclusive"insects" or even all of the subspecies in a Family such as ants, cockroaches or fleas is a tall order in that the members within the Family can vary tremendously. The fact is that it would take years and millions of dollars to test the effects of any electronic pest control device on a common household pest group like ants, flies, cockroaches, spiders or moths as an example. There are just too many different species in each of those groups.

The propagation of the myth that ultrasonic sound or electromagnetic "interference" can get rid of insects and bugs is due purely to the gross extrapolation of some very specific research on very specific insect species which demonstrated that said species reacted in the presence of airborne ultrasound. Some members of the noctuid moth family such as Cabbage Loopers and Green Lacewings as examples will avoid airborne ultrasound in the frequency range broadcast by hunting bats. These moths are not the kind found in your closets, they are bat food outside. For some marketers these scientific papers seem to constitute the "proof" that all flying insects will be repelled. If that were only so.

Unfortunately there is no magic bullet to protect humans from the hoards of insect pests that plague our lives. Spiders, mosquitoes, ants, cockroaches, fleas and flies are likely to be around longer than we are. For most pest species that annoy us there are specific measures ranging from simple cleanliness to non-toxic pesticides that can reduce the problem.

Ultrasound is an excellent technique for repelling rodents. Rodents hear it; they are annoyed by it and they leave. It is simple animal behavior modification and it works almost every time. While there are some insects that can perceive the sound pressure created by ultrasonic devices, a predictable repellant effect is not easily demonstrated. For anyone to imply or directly claim that most or all insects can be driven away using ultrasound is both stupid and blatantly false. When purchasing an electronic pestrepeller "Let the Buyer Beware" (Caveat Emptor) definitely applies.

15. What about the so-called "electromagnetic" pest repellers that claim to repel pests behind walls?
These direct plug-in devices claim to somehow alter the electromagnetic output of common house wiring to turn your whole house into a giant pest repeller and drive all species of pests out of the walls of your home. In fact, there is scant credible scientific research to suggest that electromagnetic fields have any repellent effect whatsoever on any living creature, much less specific pest species (mice, insects, etc.) to the exclusion of other non-pest species (people, pets, etc.). Furthermore, the degree to which these devices actually alter the electromagnetic output of house wiring is questionable. No manufacturer specifies exactly what the devices do or how they do it. In 1980 the EPA and U.S. Postal Service took action to remove all "electromagnetic" (not ultrasonic) pest control devices from the market. Health Canada has banned the sale of electromagnetic pest repellers in Canada. And finally, there are serious questions as to the advisability of increasing one's exposure to electromagnetic energy. (See ElectroSensor)

16. Can ultrasonic sound waves be effective in repelling bats from attics and other inside areas?
Sonic Technology Products makes no specific claims regarding the effectiveness of the PestChaser in repelling bats because the way bats respond to high frequency sound can vary significantly depending upon the time of year. Between December and June, bats are roosting and hibernating. They will not leave their nest, even if you introduce high frequency sound. They give birth to their young in mid-February and will absolutely not abandon them, no matter how noxious the sound is to them. The only time high frequency sound produces a repellent effect is from July through the end of October, after their young have flown off and before they roost again for the winter. In our view, bats are extremely beneficial and their habitat should be protected. Bats are the single best controller of the insect kingdom. Bats may eat as many as 600 mosquito-size insects in an hour. An average size bat colony may eat 1/2 million insects in one evening.

17. Doesn't ultrasound just chase rodents from one place to another? Doesn't it make more sense to kill them with traps and poisons?
Traps and poisons come with a heavy price. Poisons can endanger children and pets while both traps and poisons require the handling of potentially disease-bearing rodents. Additionally, new rodents will almost always replace the ones you've killed. Using ultrasound in your pest control efforts can result in long-term reductions of rodent populations by lowering the "carrying capacity" of the environment. In other words, rodents will limit their population to the available food and shelter in their environment. To illustrate: rodents may move into your kitchen or basement for available food and shelter. They will breed until their population level reaches a saturation point for the available space and food supply. This is called the "carrying capacity" of the space. Poisons and traps provide only a temporary solution because any rodents that survive will rapidly breed to replace those killed. Or, new rodents will invade the space. When the PestChaser's jackhammer-like sound is introduced, you are creating a hostile environment that rodents will avoid if possible. The "carrying capacity" of that space drops to zero and a real long-term reduction in rodent populations can take place. You could also create a hostile environment for rodents by filling the space with snakes, hawks, water or smoke, but then it would be hostile for you, too. Ultrasonic sound is the human-friendly choice.

18. What else can I do to discourage rodents in my home?
In addition to using ultrasound, keep foods well-sealed and food preparation areas clean so you don't attract rodents in the first place. Keep the area outside your home free of weeds, wood piles, and debris. Also, try to locate and repair any holes in walls or floors that rodents can use for entry.

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