A few winters back I learned that a couple of apartments several floors down had a mouse problem. Having fled one moused-up rental a decade earlier (an expensive act of desperation, as the landlord eventually collected $10,000 for the eight months remaining on the two-year lease), I asked the sub-basement guys at the UWS Gracious Home what they recommended in the way of mouse prevention.
Apparently, what I needed was an electronic mouse repellent, which emits ultrasonic waves that rodents would rather not be around. Skeptical but highly motivated, I bought one and plugged it into the outlet next to the stove. It's been there ever since, and I've never seen a mouse in my apartment.
According to pest control expert Gil Bloom, that probably has more to do with the fact that the super successfully purged them from the building than with my electronic mouse repellent.
“The pest control industry experimented with these in the late 80s—more sophisticated units with adjustable frequencies—but with no great results,” says Bloom of Standard Pest Management, which is seeing the usual 15-20% increase in fall season mouse-related business, when mice head indoors for the winter.
“Whie ultrasonics have some limited backing by lab studies, which allow the claim to be made, the results are not replicated in the real world,” he says. “The ultrasonic waves are more akin to flashlight beams, and if there is a shadow created by a box, bag, cabinet, etc., it has no effect. You can aim it at a direct spot and possibly repel mice from that spot but that’s about it.”
Raymond Lou, a director at M&M Pest Control, concurs that the devices are generally not effective. But he says he has personally seen them work on a short-term basis until mice become accustomed to the sound waves.
One Manhattan co-op owner who spent three month battling a mouse invasion agrees with Lou: "They are b.s. Mice get used to them. You gotta kill the bastards."
[Updated September 2015. Originally posted on 11/17/10.]