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Come up with ideas to make sonic pest repellants more effective

Image credit: pixabay/Gordon Johnson

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Subash Chapagain
Subash Chapagain Jun 07, 2022
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Can we come up with ways to make sonic sound repellant devices actually useful?
Sonic pest deterrent devices are equipment that use a range of acoustic spectrums to repel, deter or kill unwanted animals such as insects, rodents, birds and large animals. The range of sound usually depends on the animals that are targeted, from infrasonic (<20Hz) to ultrasonic (>18000Hz).
These devices operate with a battery or grid-powered energy source. In theory, they work by disrupting normal acoustic communication of target pests and driving them away by means of annoyance, fear or confusion. Infrasonic and ultrasonic sound ranges are inaudible to humans, and this makes them even more convenient to operate.
Currently, there are several commercially available sonic pest repellent devices. However, when actually tested with control experiments, they have turned out to be largely ineffective, despite the claims of the producers. This doesn’t mean that this approach is completely useless. Indian meal moth and Canadian geese, for example, have been shown to be controlled by using sound .
So what has been the bottleneck?
Studies in the scientific laboratory setting that gauged several pest control devices showed that most devices are ineffective. One of the major caveats has been ‘habituation’. Though the devices show promise in the start, after a certain time, the pests learn to not be offended by the sounds. Also, ultrasonic devices marketed for rodent control generally do not generate sound with an intensity of more than 130 dB at a distance of 1 m from the speaker.
As such, the challenge is to drastically improve present-day sonic repellent devices for a wide range of pests. -what technical upgrades in terms of sound, pitch, and frequency can be made?
-what biologically relevant sounds can be used?
-can we leverage AI and automation to make this technology widespread?

[1]https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1033&context=nwrcrepellants

2
Creative contributions

Use a "melody" of random frequencies

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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Jun 07, 2022
To not habituate the insects to one frequency, the repellant should continuously change the frequency. There will be a range of frequencies that the insect repels to. Keep changing the frequencies within that range.
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Shireesh Apte
Shireesh Aptea month ago
"The majority of success using sound to combat pests involves devices developed by professionals and researchers. This success is likely attributed to the development of techniques and devices that target specic species. When a specic species is targeted, greater consideration is given to hearing mechanisms, biologically relevant sounds, and particular behaviors that can then be incorporated into the design. These devices often use biosonic sounds, or sounds that are derived from an organism, as opposed to many of the commercially available devices that often use generic sine waves or computer-generated tones."
I recommend an open web depository of insect sounds, where anyone (primarily researchers) can deposit into under insect categories such as cockroaches, mosquitoes...... People can download sounds of the relevant insects they want to repulse either with a subscription model or a one time purchase. This can be downloaded into a commercial sonic device (uploaded into it). The model will pay out a certain percentage to the downloader with the platform retaining the rest.
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Subash Chapagain
Subash Chapagaina month ago
Definitely seems doable, but will take some time and very clever tech to start with. Once the algorithm learns how to modulate the frequencies to remain constantly irritating(to pests), this can surely work.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarnia month ago
Subash Chapagain Yes, finding the irritating range for every pest is also difficult. Could this be crowd-sourced as Shireesh Apte mentioned?
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Detect the frequency of the insect

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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Jun 07, 2022
The repellant can be equipped with a receiver that detects the frequency of the nearby insects and then uses it to send out a frequency that deters insects of the received frequency.
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J. Nikola
J. Nikolaa month ago
Detect the specific fear-related frequency of the rodents, insects and other pests
Motivated by Shubhankar Kulkarni's idea, I wanted to add something. What if we experimentally determined not only the frequency of the pests but the exact frequency, a frequency pattern or a sound pattern created by pests during fearful events such as the presence of their predators or incoming floods, etc?
Why?
If we just detect the frequency of the insect (which, in my opinion, should already have been done if the device is animal-specific), that could be like specifying the "language", without knowing "what are we saying to them". By implementing this, we could possibly increase the efficiency of these devices by emitting a fearful message to the pests.
How could it be done?
In an experimental setting, tape the sounds of specific pest predators and play them to the pests. Tape their reaction, if any. Repeat for the next species or a predator. Use the specific frequencies or sound patterns to deliver the fearful message and scare off the pests.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarnia month ago
J. Nikola I like the idea. Entomology is not my strong suit. Still, do we know whether insects communicate "alerts" or "warnings"? In my opinion, the individuals of most pest species hunt alone, for example, mosquitoes. Even a single mosquito can bite you multiple times. The bite frequency and duration are not dependent on the number of mosquitos in the area. Therefore, I think they may not have senses evolved to communicate "alerts". Insects that live in a society, like the honey bees, may have evolved these terms of communication.
Also, the pest predators are usually still and silent like the lizards and frogs. I am not sure if they make any sound at least while hunting the pests.
However, the idea seems viable for more evolved pests.
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J. Nikola
J. Nikolaa month ago
Shubhankar Kulkarni I agree, this should definitely be taken into account when deciding which species to focus on.
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