Bed Bug Dogs: Hunting Them Down

Bed bugs are one of the most common and destructive pests around. Parasitic insects, they live off the blood of unsuspecting hosts, thriving in locations where humans frequent such as hotels, hospitals and apartment complexes. Once an infestation starts, it spreads rapidly, thus rapid bed bug detection and treatment are essential to containing further spread of the bed bug. Dogs that have been specially trained to sniff out bed bugs and their eggs can be used to locate an infestation early on.

What is a bed bug?

Contrary to what their name implies, bed bugs can be found in all areas of an inhabited area’s structure, from the furniture and carpet to inside the walls and of course, in the inhabitant’s bed.  As they are tiny, about the width of a credit card, they can squeeze into small cracks in the walls and between boards in the floor or walls. A nocturnal parasite, they are primarily active at night, making it extremely easy for them to feed on their victims, usually humans and other warm-blooded animals, as they sleep. Victims sometimes wake up with small, itchy bites on the skin as evidence of the pesky bed bugs’ work.

How do bed bug infestations occur?

Bed bugs spread via traveling human carriers, clothing, furniture and luggage. Since they are so small, they can travel virtually anywhere. As they are so small and hard to see, and because they are so elusive, they are often not detected by the naked eye. Additionally, not all humans react to their bites, so the host may not realize they’re being fed from. The longer a bed bug problem goes untreated, the more bed bugs lay eggs that develop into even more adults. Often, by the time the problem is detected, the infestation has grown enough to over-run an entire dwelling with bed bugs.

How do you know if you have a bed bug problem?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, one of the earliest signs of a bed bug infestation is the presence of small brown spots on an infested person’s bed sheets, left by bed bug excrement as well as crushed bed bugs between the host and their pillow, sheets or mattress. Blood spots from the host left on the sheets or pillows from the bed bugs’ feeding are also a sign of infestation. Finally, small white eggs left by the bed bugs about 1 millimeter wide may also be spotted .

Identifying infestations with bed bug dogs

Preventing an infestation before it becomes too overwhelming is necessary through early bed bug detection. Dogs and handlers who are specially trained to search potentially infested areas are commonly employed to determine the location of the suspected bed bugs. Bed bug dogs can search an entire hotel room in just two minutes! Once an infestation has been confirmed through a search by bed bug dogs, the EPA recommends cleaning infested clothes, bedding and furniture with non-chemical cleaners.