Wednesday, December 26, 2007

New ad for electronic pest control device from Riddex

Riddex has begun a new ad campaign (at least in our area) for their electronic pest control device called the Riddex Plus Digital Pest Repeller (tm). Since we get a lot of questions about these devices I thought it might be a good time to remind readers what the devices do, and don't do.

Marketers of electronic pest control devices (sometimes called ultrasonic pest control, or something similar) claim that these devices chase away insect pests and small rodents with electromagnetic and/or ultrasonic energy. They claim that laboratory tests have proven that the product works but they don't cite any actual studies. The only supporting documentation is testimonial.

Scientific studies

I could not find a single published study in any scientific journal that supports the use of electronic pest control devices for household pests like spiders, cockroaches, or rodents. Such a study would be inexpensive to conduct and could potentially add a great deal of credence to their claims. Instead the only evidence given by the marketers is testimonials in which users submit their personal experiences with the product. Personal endorsements, or testimonials, tend to be clouded with bias for a variety of reasons. Scientific trials on the other hand are designed to eliminate this bias as much as possible.

If you want to purchase one of these devices to test in your home here's a suggestion: since I could not find a published study, call the company and ask them to send you a citation from a supportive study. Then, if you get a citation to a scientific study that supports the use of electronic pest control devices please send it to me, and I'll post it here for others to see!

I'm not picking on Riddex in particular because none of these devices, from any manufacturer, has been shown to work. My guess is that proper trials have not been done because the manufacturers know that the data would not be favorable to their products. So, until scientific trials are done by reliable labs and the results published in peer-reviewed journals I'd suggest you avoid these devices. There are now safe alternatives to conventional pesticides for virtually all household insect pests, and rodents can be managed with traps.

I have posted additional information about electronic pest control devices in general at our 'Bugs site including a link to an FTC warning about these devices.

In summary, there is no good scientific evidence that any of these devices work. If there was good evidence you can be bet that it would be plastered all over their ads, but it is not.

5 comments:

Harv said...

Thanks very much for your warning about the lack of evidence for there actually being studies, both in their ad and in their responses.

My wife informed me about this ad after seeing it on TV yesterday. We have been trying to persuade a mouse to leave our house for a few months, but it is only getting bolder!

I did find this website: http://www.greenshield.com/scientifically-proven.html that has some downloadable pdfs of studies - I read two: one mentions adaptation after about a week, though I'm wondering if our mouse is chased out if there is a good chance it won't return; another study was observational without controls, but it did seem suggestive.

What are your opinions about the studies from this webpage? I imagine you've already seen them and have considered them insufficient.

Thanks for your dedication to honesty in claims and to non-toxic approaches in pest management.

Jack DeAngelis, Ph.D. said...

Harv,

Thanks for your comment and the link to GreenShield. I looked over the studies and would
make the following comments: None of the studies are published. That's usually the first
criteria that separates "lab tests" from actual, independent studies that some researcher
is willing to risk their reputation on. Second, most of the studies were done by labs
hired by the manufacturer. It would be rare for a lab that depends on contact work to
give their client a bad report about the product in question. So I think you have to view
these reports with some skepticism. Third, if you read the reports from Iowa State they
only conclude that the high-pitched sounds produced by these devices irritate the mice,
they don't actually test whether or not they achieve any real reduction in mice numbers.
Finally, the report from the Navy is really just a testimonial. I found no data or
conclusions.

Good luck with your mouse problem. Mice are not my area (I work on six and eight legged
critters). I have had good luck with traps and peanut butter/nut bait.

Merry Christmas/Happy New Year

Jack DeAngelis
LivingWithBugs, LLC
www.LivingWithBugs.com

Delia Fanning said...

I appreciate your discussion on these electronic pest devices, as I was looking for the alleged "laboratory tests" mentioned by the Riddex people. Unfortunately it looks to me like there is a flaw in the claims of there being useful laboratory tests at the GreenShield.com site.

Noting that the FTC entered a decision against Riddex for the claims made by these devices and it was dated August of 2003, it makes me somewhat skeptical that these studies (independent or otherwise) were not previously offered to the FTC (since they are all dated prior to 2003) and already taken into account in their issuing their decision.

Here is a link to the FTC decision.
http://www.ftc.gov/os/2003/08/globaldo.pdf

It suggests to me even that Global and the current sellers of RiddexPlus by whatever name may be violating the terms of that FTC decision, if this is the only "scientific substantiation" they can supply.

In the mean time I will continue to look for the credible testing called for by the FTC to cover the claims I'm seeing made now on TV.

Thanks and good wishes for your efforts here.

Maureen said...

I don't know whether there have been valid scientific studies of Riddex but I bought a unit about 6 weeks ago and it has worked wonderfully for me. I used to have an ant infestation in my house - I would see upwards of 30 ants per day climbing walls, walking across tables and countertops, etc.. Since I installed and started using the Riddex device, I rarely see ants - occasionally I have seen 1 or 2 in a day and that is not everyday.
Maureen

Tom said...

I could only find a patent filing.

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/5473836.html