Bed Bug Dog Information: Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ's: Bed Bug Dog Inspection Information
Why use a bed bug dog for bed bug inspection?
Accurate, efficient, and quick— a trained bed bug dog is 250% better than a person is at discovering a low level bed bug infestation. According to university studies, bed bug sniffing dogs are 98% accurate at bed bug detection (able to detect adults and eggs) whereas human inspectors are only 30-40% accurate in discovering bed bugs when performing visual bed bug inspections when low level infestations are present. Dogs can smell bed bugs in locations that people cannot inspect, such as those hidden inside cracks, crevices, and wall voids. A bed bug dog can pinpoint bed bugs in a matter of minutes that a person might not be able to find after hours of bed bug inspection.
Using a bed bug dog is a quicker way to find a problem than a human bed bug inspection. Moreover, dogs can accurately determine if and where there are problems at an earlier stage of bed bug infestation than people can easily detect. By identifying a problem earlier, a bed bug sniffing dog ensures that fewer people will be victims of bed bugs, and these insects can be eliminated before the problem spreads through a home, office, and multi-unit building. In contrast, an undetected low level bed bug infestation can grow exponentially if not treated. Two breeding bed bugs can quickly multiply, leading to 22 bed bugs and 130 eggs in 16 days; 162 bed bugs and 200 eggs in 31 days; and 302 bed bugs and 1040 eggs in 45 days.
A bed bug dog can isolate the problem areas. It is be more appropriate and less costly to focus on key areas that are infested or neighboring the affected areas, rather than spending money and unnecessary efforts on building-wide bed bug control.
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Can a bed bug dog really find these pests?
Yes! Here's Why:
The Science of a Canine's Nose
The source of a dog's incredible sense of smell is its nasal cavity. This cavity is rich with blood vessels and nerve endings that connect to a highly developed olfactory center in the brain. Olfaction or the act or process of smelling, is a dog's primary special sense. A dog's sense of smell is said to be a thousand times more sensitive than that of humans. In fact, a dog has more than 220 million olfactory receptors in its nose, while humans have only 5 million. Moreover, a dog's scent organ (inside its nose) is about four times larger than that of a human.
The biology and training of each bed bug dog allows it to perform bed bug detection with up to 98% accuracy from minute particles of scent and to translate it into action.
An example illustrates the difference between a human nose and a dog nose: if both species walked into a bakery, the person will smell the bread baking; a dog will smell the flour, yeast, butter, salt, shortening, sugar and water separately!
Bed Bug Sniffing Dogs Receive Training and Have Careers To Maximize These Skills
Canines have many different careers as working dogs. Dogs' noses are used to detect narcotics, bombs, fire accelerants, escaped convicts, missing people, disaster victims, and even mold and insects. K-9 teams are employed at airports, military bases, police departments, fire departments, border control points, and as parts of search and rescue teams. Dogs have even been trained to detect cancer (including colon and lung cancer) and health problems affiliated with diabetes.
Canines are employed in the pest control industry for bed bug detection and termite detection.
Each of Bell Environmental’s bed bug sniffing dogs graduated from top canine academies with master trainers who specifically taught them to alert to live bed bugs and their eggs. Our canines are trained for hundreds of hours in bed bug detection. The handlers also attend these canine academies and complete intensive training before entering the field with their bed bug dog counterparts. The handling team receives certification before entering the field.
These certifications are actively maintained by working with master trainers. Our bed bug dog handlers are also senior inspectors who understand beg bugs' biology and proclivity to hide.
Our dogs each have only one handler, and it is the bed bug dog handling team that is certified together.
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How do canines' bed bug detection skills compare with other methods?
No bed bug detection system is 100% accurate for finding a low-level bed bug infestation. Specially trained dogs are the best tool that the bed bug control industry has to detect them. A bed bug sniffing dog is proven to be 95-98% accurate in university studies, which is far higher than all other technologies and bed bug detection methods on the market. To a bed bug dog, scent is like a 3-dimensional odor image. An experienced inspector can search a room for hours with a flashlight and magnifying glass for signs of bed bugs the size of apple seeds and the width of a credit card without finding what a trained bed bug dog can detect within minutes.
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How accurate is a dog's nose?
Master Trainer Bill Whitstine of the Florida Canine Academy comments on a dog's sense of smell:
- From a single drop of urine, the sniffing dog learns the marking animal's sex, diet, health, emotional state, and even whether it's dominant or submissive, friend or foe.
- Tracking dogs follow a biochemical trail of dead skin cells, sweat, odor molecules, and gasses.
- For dogs, a scent article is like a three-dimensional "odor image" - much more detailed than a photograph is for a person.
- Dogs can track a scent through snow, air, mud, water, and even ash.
An Auburn University report
spells out the following strengths about the dogs' scent detection abilities:
Sensitivity: The dog's limit of detection (absolute threshold) has been determined for four compounds to documented limits of olfactory detection for the dog range from tens of parts per billion to 500 parts per trillion.
Odor Discrimination: Dogs' ability to discriminate among target and non-target odors is even more impressive than their sensitivity. They were able to discriminate the target odor even when the non-target odor was orders of magnitude higher in concentration (and overwhelming to humans).
Odor Signatures: When being trained to detect a substance, dogs learn to recognize a substance in terms of its one or two most abundant vapor constituents.
Multiple Odor Discriminations: Dogs can easily learn as many as ten odor discriminations without difficulty.
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I've seen bed bugs in my home; do I need Roscoe the bed bug dog to inspect?
If you're a typical apartment dweller and have seen bed bugs, droppings, cast skins, eggs or other signs of bed bugs, you don't need a bed bug dog to perform a bed bug inspection. The most appropriate use of the bed bug dog is to determine if there are bed bugs in your location, and if so, where. For people who know they have a bed bug control problem, it is better to spend your money on bed bug solutions to eliminate a known problem. We recommend treating every room in an apartment for the greatest likelihood of eliminating bed bugs. If you are a consumer with a large home or a professional in a large office building who has found evidence of a bed bug infestation, one course of action is to have a canine inspection to narrow the treatment area rather than treating an entire location.
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What do you have to do to get ready for an inspection?
While almost no preparation by the customer is necessary, please do respect the protocols that our company and a handler may require, such as removing pets and excess clutter from the bed bug inspection area. The handler will assess the rooms that will be inspected. It is important that the bed bug dog and handler can maneuver freely and work uninterrupted while inspecting. In addition, canine teams should not be exposed to pesticides or other chemicals which are present in a room, as it is dangerous for the animals. It is important to inform us in advance if and when any chemicals have been used in your location.
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How does a bed bug dog inspection work?
The handler will make the bed bug sniffing dog thoroughly inspect the suspected areas and the rooms. During each job the handlers keep the dogs moving, inspecting different locations and making continual progress throughout a customer site to ensure complete bed bug detection.
When a bed bug dog alerts, it receives a treat and/or positive reinforcement from his handler. This reward system is standard protocol for working dogs. Other career canines (e.g., drug sniffing, arson, bomb, termite, truffle, and search and rescue dogs) are also rewarded with food, toys and other positive motivations. All handlers are certified, skilled, and practiced in recognizing body language cues specific to their dog which accompanies a legitimate positive alert.
We ask clients to reserve questions for the handler about his findings until the bed bug inspection is completed. Please note that a bed bug dog is not a machine, it may require rest, water, or "bathroom" breaks during a particularly long bed bug inspection of an environment like a large corporate office.
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How long do handlers look for signs of bed bugs after a dog has alerted to them?
When a bed bug dog makes a positive alert during an inspection, we will have the dog re-inspect the area to make sure that he alerts to the same place both times.
It is not necessary to have the bed bug sniffing dog check the area over and over again, as repeated reinspections of the same area could cause the dogs to become bored or distracted.
All of our bed bug dog handlers make a strong effort to verify or find physical evidence when a canine has a positive alert. The human inspectors seek out live or dead insects, cast skins, eggs, or fecal spotting in the area around where a dog alerts.
There is no minimum or maximum amount of time one should spend searching for bed bugs in an apartment. Dr. Austin Frishman, a nationally renowned entomologist, advises that an inspector spend only 5-10 minutes looking for signs of bed bugs; after that a person could spend hours looking with a flashlight and magnifying glass and not find them. It is possible that in a low level bed bug infestation a human inspector won't find anything because of the small size of bed bugs and the bugs' power of concealment. Dr. Michael Potter, a professor from the University of Kentucky and one the foremost experts on bed bug control, notes that bed bugs concealed deep in cracks and crevices, particularly those hidden inside a box spring or sofa, can be hard for an inspector to locate.
The search for a bed bug can be similar to trying to find a moving needle in a haystack. A newly hatched bed bug is 1mm in size (the size of the tip of a ball point pen) and translucent. The eggs are also 1mm in size and have a pearly translucent appearance. A non-engorged bed bug is as thin as a fingernail. Their small size enables them to hide deep in cracks and crevices, on any item. To illustrate, there are 7 places for bed bugs to hide on 1 wooden hanger! Bed bug fecal droppings are equivalent in size to an ink dot. Other variables such the disparate furnishings of customers' homes affect the ability to find evidence during a bed bug inspection.
On big jobs of numerous apartments or areas with large square footage, we bring a separate inspector to follow each bed bug dog handling team whose job is to record alerts and to inspect for physical evidence.
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What if your dogs alert to bed bugs but there is no physical evidence?
At the end of the inspection, the handler will provide the customer with a service ticket with a description of the bed bug dog's findings, or lack thereof. If the bed bug sniffing dog indicates that there are bed bugs in this location and physical evidence is discovered, the handler will recommend a minimum two-phase bed bug control program to eliminate your problem. Should the dog alert to bed bugs and no physical evidence be found, Bell Environmental will make note on the service ticket that the alert was unverified. It is Bell's belief that verification could not occur due to the bed bug's power of concealment. In this case it is ultimately the client's decision whether to proceed to the recommended 2-phase treatment plan, or wait for physical signs of bed bugs to appear.
If there is a question about the findings, we will bring in a second bed bug inspection team at the client's request to inspect the apartment without letting the second bed bug dog team know that it is a re-inspection or any of the prior results. On certain occasions we have even brought in a third canine team to accommodate clients.
Once again, the decision of whether to treat or not is always left to the customer. Bell Environmental provides each customer with the bed bug dog's findings, and its then his/her decision to hire us or other bed bug companies for treatment, or not to act on the findings at that time or at all.
It is also possible that the victims of bed bugs cannot recognize that they have a problem even after it has been pointed out. Approximately 30% of people do not have a reaction to bed bug bites. Others may have only small marks from being bitten and not the large welts commonly pictured, so they may not attribute these marks to bed bug bites. One of our company's entomologists feeds bed bugs on his skin without any signs!
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Your bed bug control company was hired by our management to inspect the entire apartment and your canines alerted to my unit but Bell couldn't find physical evidence - Do I have to have treatment?
Bell Environmental has been contracted by the boards and management companies to perform apartment bed bug inspection services, many times after there have been known bed bug infestations in the building. If there are positive alerts from our dogs, we report the results to the board/management. It is up to the board/management whether or not to treat, or have the owner treat, the apartment for bed bugs. We follow the protocol set by the board/management of a building and the choice to have treatment or not in a particular unit is not our company's decision under any circumstance. We noted that the customer has the opportunity for a reinspection from another canine bed bug inspection team, and the customer can work with the board/management as to the best course of action. Again, we view the decision to get treatment immediately, later, or not at all as the customer's decision, not our company's.
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How long does a bed bug's dog findings hold up?
A bed bug dog provides a snapshot of the location of bed bugs at the moment of the bed bug inspection. The location of bed bugs on a particular day may not be the same as on the following day. As a result, if there are findings of bed bugs in your location, it is best to pursue bed bug solutions shortly thereafter. Insects are living beings that constantly move and multiply. Moreover, bed bugs' biological nature encourages their spread. If there is a significant delay after a dog-based bed bug inspection, such as weeks or months before getting treatment from a bed bug control company, the company certainly cannot rely on the accuracy of the snapshot that the bed bug sniffing dog provided. The problem will likely be worse, and a treatment may need to be applied across a wider area of your location and/or take additional visits to ensure a greater chance of successful bed bug elimination.
Do I need to treat my whole apartment or house or can I only treat where the dog alerts?
Bell Environmental generally recommends that all of the rooms in the customer's location receive bed bug control treatment. This advice is consistent with industry and public health practices, among them the New York City Bed Bug Advisory Board which states that bed bug "Control efforts should not be limited to the room(s) in which infestation was confirmed, but should extend to all rooms in the home, apartment, condo etc.". While the bed bug dog provides an accurate snapshot of where the bed bugs are at the time of inspection, these bugs may travel and spread to other rooms by the time treatment begins. If a customer elects to only treat select locations, the customer increases the risks that bed bugs will remain on the premises and will not be eliminated even after a thorough localized treatment.
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How long after a bed bug treatment can a dog come to reinspect?
A normal bed bug control program consists of at least two treatments 2-3 weeks apart. Some residual substances such as dust and other non repellent materials may be applied in voids and cracks and crevices to provide ongoing protection and bed bug elimination for up to 4-6 weeks after the last treatment. After this 4-6 week period it may be appropriate and possible to bring canines to a location for another bed bug inspection.
We warn customers that people are more likely to gain exposure to bed bugs through human behavior than through the walls of their buildings. In the present bed bug epidemic, many people's encounters with bed bugs are the result of bad luck. However, if a bed bug victim's routine behavior has not changed or examined for a link to their current bed bug infestation—where they go, whom they vist, who visits them—then they are likely to re-infest themselves. No lingering residual bed bug spray inside wall voids will protect you from this type of contact with bed bugs. If you live in a multi-unit building which has bed bug control issues, there is always a possibility that they may find their way back into your unit from the hall or from a neighboring apartment. Early bed bug detection is the best method of proactive bed bug control.
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Contact us online or call us today at 877-376-1775 for bed bug dog inspection and bed bug elimination.