Are Ultrasonic Pest Repellers or Professional Pest Control The Answer?
In New York, photos of mice sitting around a device that is meant to deter rodents were cited by a judge. The judge allowed a class-action suit to proceed in September 2018 against a business that sells and markets the anti-rodent devices.
U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III wrote above the three photos that showed mice near and even on top of the device. He wrote, “it is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. And, in this case, three photographs from a study conducted by plaintiffs’ expert are worth even more.” The judge also noted that the attorney submitted more than 42,000 words to sway his ruling.
Pauley stated as he referred to a photo of a mouse climbing up a wall toward the anti-rodent device,” as the photographs show, mice can apparently relax comfortably under a Repeller and even appear to be so drawn in by its siren song that one would scale a wall just to snooze on it.”
More about the Lawsuit
The lawsuit was initially filed in 2015 by women in Woodville, Texas and Palm Desert, California. The women were seeking unspecified damages. They requested that the suit also represented other consumers who bought more than 2.4 million of the rodent repellant devices.
The women say they bought the Bell + Howell Ultrasonic Pest Repellers. Advertisements for the products claimed that the anti-rodent repellants were “fast and effective” to “Drive Pests Out” and get rid of “mice, rats, roaches, spiders and ants.” The two plaintiffs sued in federal court in Manhattan after concluding that the products, which were designed to fit into an electrical outlet, were not sufficient. The defendants named were BHH, LLC, based in New York. The company does business as Bell + Howell and Van Hauser LLC.
The Judge’s Ruling
During the ruling, Judge Pauley noticed that some of the device packagings includes a disclaimer. The disclaimer states that the ultrasonic signals in the invention will become less potent as the signal travels. Soft substances like carpeting can also absorb the ultrasonic signals and reflected by firmer surfaces like furniture.
The judge stated, “but whether this disclaimer puts consumers on notice is a jury question.” He also added that the jury could determine if the devices were not useful and marketing falsely.
Attorney Adam H. McCabe was representing the businesses and stated that he was disappointed with Pauley’s ruling on the request to dismiss the lawsuit with no trial.
“Our client stands by its product and the product’s effectiveness,” the attorney stated. “Numerous scientists and laboratory testing of ultrasonic pest repellers confirm their effectiveness. It’s unfortunate that the photo, taken by plaintiffs’ paid experts in a staged and unverifiable setting, was included in the Order.”
Judge Pauley asserted that the company might have been previously notified that ultrasonic repellers were generally ineffective. The Federal Trade Commission’s Division of Enforcement sent warning letters to 60 manufacturers and retailers of ultrasonic pest-control devices, saying claims about the products had to be supported by scientific evidence. The judge also pointed out that the plaintiffs reported several studies published before 2011 that they claimed proved that the anti-rodent tools were not sufficient.
Other studies have been done to see if these ultrasonic pest repellers have a real impact. In 1995 the National Wildlife Research Center along with the United States Department of Agriculture found that the effects wore off after a few days when the rodents became used to the sound. The University of Arizona conducted another study in 2015 and found that the ultrasonic pest devices were not as effective as one thinks.
Consumer Reports / Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Reports advises not using these ultrasonic pest repellers. They have stated that The New York Attorney General’s office sent letters to 2 different repellent manufacturing companies to stop producing the product.
The Federal Trade Commission has been warning people about these ultrasonic devices for several decades. They state that the companies who manufacturer they have no scientific proof to show their effectiveness.
How Pest Control Services Can Help
It may be time for homeowners to consider hiring a professional pest control company for proper pest removal and prevention.
While there are some pest control products on the market, it is best to hire exterminators who can do a thorough job of getting rid of rodents and insects. NJ Pest Control specializes in assisting New Jersey residents and business owners in keeping their spaces pest-free. Our team uses a variety of extermination methods based on your needs to keep you and your family safe. For more information and to set up a consultation, you can call us, email us or fill out our contact form.