Picture of bed bugsPhoto courtesy of Richard Naylor, University of Sheffield

Sounds familiar?  How does President Reagan’s expression apply to bed bug detection dogs?

So here it goes:  Our dogs are called on duty primarily when someone is complaining about bed bug bites or any bug bites for that matter.  If bites line up in a row of 3 or more bites or are clustered in 3-somes, then the fear is triggered that it might be bed bug bites because of the well-known “breakfast, lunch, dinner” metaphor associated with the biting/eating habits of these blood-sucking critters.

Or if, out of the blue, bites appear to occur at night while sleeping then the thought of bed bugs having had a blood meal is assumed.

And, on the other hand, what is really interesting is that a good proportion of the people who call me following a bite episode, don’t even know about bed bugs as a possible blood-sucking insect until they google it up on the Internet and come across pictures of bed bugs. “BED BUGS!!!!!”

So, upon receiving a call, our company tries to ask many questions as to why they think they have a bed bug problem, how recent the bites are, how often do they bite, if you have been travelling lately, have you recently started to go outdoors, have you picked up some furniture stranded on the side of the road, are you a social worker (i.e. a high-risk occupation), … you see where I am heading with those questions.

Then, for those client who we determined are prime candidate for a K9 inspection, we schedule an appointment and then our dogs go on their very, merry way conducting the inspection of their premises, whether it be a residence, an apartment, an alternative care facility, multiple units in an apartment complex, a  theater, … you see the gist.

So, what does it really mean to be a prime candidate for a bed bug dog detection?

I could go on listing all of the possible commercial facilities where a dog would be a perfect tool for detecting bed bugs, but rather this time, I opt to explain it in simpler terms:

1.- Any situation where there is no visual evidence of bed bug activity and yet there is suspicion of it, i.e. in low-level infestations where the bed bugs cannot easily be seen. (behind cracks, crevices, outlets, walls; deep in a sofa, chair or box spring, under the carpet etc.

2.- Any large-scale environments like apartment complexes, alternative care facilities, hospitals, movie theaters, hotels etc.  Doing a visual in these environments is cost-prohibitive, as a dog can go through a room in 3 to 5 minutes sniffing out the scent of bed bugs where an effective visual inspection would take on average 15 minutes per room.

3.- A person that gets repeatedly bitten and yet no one, including pest control technicians, can find any evidence of bed bug activity and/or identify the insect that keeps biting them.  (Again, we are dealing here with a potential low-infestation down to possibly 1 bed bug, as our dogs are able to discriminate down to the scent of that one lonesome, elusive bed bug).

4.- People having seemingly allergic reactions and wanting to rule out bedbugs as its cause.

So, in low-level infestations or large-scale arenas, it makes sense to bring a dog in to sniff out bed bugs that are so skilled at hiding in places where the eyes cannot reach, i.e. “see”.

Yet our clients still ask for a visual confirmation when our dogs alert to the scent of 1 live bed bug or 1 infinitesimally small, invisible bed bug egg.

And even though I explain that a visual confirmation means either specks/dots of fecal matter, shed skins, dead bed bugs and eggs besides the live samples, some of our clients aren’t satisfied until they see a live bed bug as a confirmation of our dogs’ alert.

And I have to admit that over the past 4 years of having our dogs sniff out bed bugs in all kinds of environments: being a residence, a movie theater, a summer camp, a day care, a multi-unit apartment complex or simply a vehicle; the most frustrating experience for me has been to not provide 100% peace of mind to my dear clients.  And I understand their ordeal because, having experienced a low bed bug infestation myself 7 years ago, I totally get their fear; feel their ordeal and their need for closure and that means: total eradication of bedbugs.

For some reason, unlike other blood-sucking insects such as ticks, mosquitoes, no-see-ums (gnats), black flies just to name a few, the bed bug causes havoc in people’s mind and heart. It is the ultimate nemesis one can encounter and cannot ignore.  It haunts you until you are 100% assured that it is exterminated.

But rest assured because now, a new product is being launched on the market that helps us, handlers of bed bug dogs, provide that extra peace of mind to you, our clients.  And it does not require dismantling furniture, preparation of any kind, or time-consuming effort to install it.

And it meets every person’s budget as it is very inexpensive; it also helps teach where bedbugs may hide and engages clients in finding early signs of bed bugs to avoid uncontrollable and costly infestations. It is also discreet, non-toxic and thus environmentally safe.

So now, our dogs have another team member accompanying their sniffing expeditions and complementing their bed bug detection performance to provide close to 100% bed bug detection services.

Welcome on board, bedbugdot!  Together with our bed bug dog teams, let’s conquer this bed bug scourge once and for all.