Bed bugs are elusive creatures. Nocturnal by nature, they tend to only come out at night; feeding on their hosts while they are fast asleep. During the day bed bugs will generally stay hidden, secreting themselves in the most remote areas of the home in order to escape detection. Hiding in cracks and crevices to avoid any prying eyes.
It’s this ability to hide that makes the lowly bed bug such a successful predator. Fortunately, bed bug inspectors have a wide range of tools in their arsenal to help them locate and eliminate bed bug colonies. Chief among these is the sniffer dog. More an ally than a tool, the bed bug sniffer dog has changed the way exterminators track and kill bed bugs.
With the help of these canine detectives bed bug inspectors can more accurately and efficiently track bed bugs to their lair and eliminate them from your home once and for all.
How Do Sniffer Dogs Find Bed Bugs?
We are all familiar with service dogs being used by police and military to sniff out drugs and explosives. They have also become an important ally for rescue teams searching for survivors of natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes. But it is only fairly recently that dogs have been trained to detect bed bugs and other pests.
In 2008, researchers at the University of Florida launched a study into the efficacy of canine bed bug detection. Dogs were trained to differentiate between bed bugs and other common household pests (cockroaches, termites, ants, etc) using a food reward system. The researchers trained the dogs to detect bed bugs by scent rather than sight. This, the team reasoned, would allow the dogs to inspect areas that might normally be hidden from the naked eye. This was an important point of the study, as bed bugs are known to hide behind walls and in cracks and crevices along floorboards.
Whenever bed bugs were detected, the dogs would signal their handlers by scratching at the area where the suspected colony was concealed. At the end of the research study the dogs showed a 97.5% success rate with a bare minimum of false positives. Moreover, throughout the course of the study, the sniffer dogs were able to successfully differentiate between live and dead bugs, eggs, and exoskeletons with an impressive 95% accuracy.
Further studies followed, and it soon became clear that sniffer dogs could be an invaluable ally in the ongoing battle against bed bugs. Before long these clever animals were partnering with exterminators to help stem the tide of bed bug invasions.
What Breed of Dog Makes the Best Sniffer?
Not all dogs can become bed bug detectors. It takes a breed with a strong sense of smell and a natural hunting instinct. Beagles are one of the more commonly used breeds as their noses have more than 200 million scent receptors that allow them to better differentiate smells. Originally bred for rabbit hunting, Beagles have been used to detect everything from pests to contraband.
Other breeds that are particularly well suited to becoming bed bug sniffers include German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers. Like Beagles these dogs have a highly developed sense of smell and have been bred over generations for their hunting instincts. This makes them especially responsive to the training that is necessary to become an effective bed bug sniffing service dog.
The Advantages of Canine Bed Bug Inspections
Canine inspections offer some distinct advantages when it comes to tracking down and exposing bed bugs in your home or office.
- All Life Stages are Detected – A properly trained and certified canine inspector can detect bed bugs at all stages of their life cycle. This is vital to fully eliminating a bed bug infestation. If eggs or larvae go undetected they can survive to recolonize your home or office.
- Canine Bed Bug Inspections are Highly Accurate – Bed bug sniffer dogs have an impressive accuracy rate, and scent bed bugs through mattresses, inside walls, and within furniture.
- Faster Inspection Times – Canine inspections are faster and more efficient than standard inspection procedures. A well trained sniffer dog can effectively inspect a property in a fraction of the time it would take to complete a strictly visual inspection.
- Less Invasive then Visual Inspections – A well trained bed bug canine can inspect each room of your home with little to no mess or disruption. Because detection is accomplished primarily by scent there is no need to pull up carpets, remove baseboards, or dismantle furniture.
- Reduces the Cost of Treating an Infestation – The accuracy of canine inspections, combined with the ability of sniffer dogs to detect bed bugs at all stages of their life cycle, makes it easier to ward off large scale infestations. Early detection is key to the effective treatment of bed bug infestations, and to keeping the costs of those treatments under control.
Scheduling a Canine Bed Bug Inspection
Canine bed bug inspectors are highly trained animals, and are certified to work with the public in the detection of these unwanted pests. Not simply man’s best friend, the skill and accuracy of these determined dogs have made them a vital ally in the detection and eliminating of bed bugs.
If you suspect your home or office may have been invaded by bed bugs now is the time to schedule a comprehensive canine bed bug inspection. Bed bug sniffer dogs are extremely efficient and accurate, and working with their handlers can help you attack your bed bug problem head on. With reduced inspection times your exterminator can get to work all the sooner eliminating the infestation and restoring your family’s peace of mind.
Published by Scott Palatnik
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