Remember the old saying, “Don’t let the bed bugs bite”? You may have even said it to a child as you tucked him in or to a friend as she retired to the guest bedroom at your house. Bed bugs sound like something people have made up or relics of an age gone by, but they’re very real. And if they’re present in your home, they can create a real, serious problem.
With the removal of more potent pesticides from the market, bed bugs have made a resurgence in homes and businesses across America. Bed bugs don’t carry diseases or destroy property, and even though they do bite, the worst damage they can do to you is to draw a little blood.
They’re little more than a nuisance, but bed bugs can do a different sort of damage. If a guest spots them in your home or place of business, you can gain a reputation of being dirty or unhygienic, even though bed bugs can make themselves at home in the cleanest of spaces.
How to Handle Bed Bugs
If you think you might have bed bugs, what can you do? You might be able to kill one or two of them if you spot them, but they’re so small that you may never be able to find where they’ve nested. Even if you use more commercial-grade products and heavy-duty at-home pest control solutions, most people only rely on the naked eye to diagnose and treat bed bug problems.
One metro Atlanta pest control provider has an innovative solution for bed bug problems: a four-legged solution. Pest Force, a family-owned company with offices in Monroe, Loganville, and Winder, puts man’s best friend to work to locate bed bug nests so that the human technicians can get rid of the pests once and for all.
How does Pest Force put dogs on the case? It all comes down to the keen sense of smell that dogs possess. According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, dogs have a sense of smell that is 10,000 to 100,000 times stronger than that of a human being. This means that dogs can be trained to detect the scent of bed bugs in a way that humans never could.
Bed Bug-Sniffing Dogs
“Once you understand the depth of a dog’s sense of smell compared to humans, it’s not hard to believe in the effectiveness of detection dogs,” said Kylie Myers of Pest Force. Pest Force puts their dogs into action as part of a cost-effective solution for customers, especially if a customer suspects that they have bed bugs but haven’t confirmed their presence.
“If the customer suspects and has bites or has seen bed bugs we will typically skip dog detection because at that point, it’s not needed,” said Myers. “If, however, a customer has not seen or does not have bites but has concern, we will use the dogs to confirm the presence of bed bugs.”
Myers also notes that bed bug dogs are particularly well-suited for commercial clients. “In a commercial setting, prevention is the goal and the dogs are a better cost-effective approach for preventative control,” she said. Once the dog has detected bed bug nesting areas, the staff members at Pest Force take action to confirm and follow up on what the dogs have found.
“When dogs detect bed bugs, a certified pest control technician comes behind them and re-inspects, paying special attention to any areas signaled by the dogs,” Myers said. “Once a positive ID is made by the technician, treatment options are discussed with the customer.”
After treating the space and eliminating bed bugs and their eggs, the dogs come in again to confirm that the pests are gone, giving the client an additional measure of peace of mind.
The training that bed bug-sniffing dogs undergo is similar to what a bomb or drug-sniffing dog experiences. Kim Camera, a trainer with over 20 years of experience, trains the four-legged technicians for Pest Force, and she bases her training in science.
“Teaching a dog a target odor is an easy thing to do,” said Camera. “Some of our dogs can learn a new odor in as little as a handful of repetitions. However, it’s the handler’s job to have a thorough understanding of how dogs learn through classical and operant conditioning.”
Bed bug-sniffing dogs can save companies like Pest Force hours of time by sweeping an entire building quickly and spotting both live bugs and eggs, and they can spot both small and large bed bug infestations. Bed bug dogs can even spot infestations inside walls and furniture.
Dogs can also spot infestations earlier than humans can, which helps companies like Pest Force treat properties before the infestations grow larger, saving customers a lot of time, money, and frustration. Using dogs is noninvasive and won’t damage property, and the dogs are so accurate that their findings can even be admissible in court.
Myers has quickly become a believer in the way dogs can help companies like hers detect pests more effectively.
“Honestly, it’s pretty simple: watch the dogs in action one time and you’ll be a believer,” she said. “There’s not much to question once the dog signals for bed bugs and/or bed bug eggs and it’s then confirmed with your own eyes.”
Pest Force currently has two dogs for bed bug detection: a Jack Russell terrier named Bentley and a Golden Retriever named Deacon. They carry certifications from the National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association (NESDCA) and the World Detector Dog Organization (WDDO), which makes them two of the most highly qualified dogs in the country.
“Our Pest Force dogs are currently the only canines in the state of Georgia that are dually certified in both NESDCA and WDDO,” said Myers. “These certifications provide added confidence to all parties.”
“Bed bug dogs are very honest and unbiased when it comes to alerting to odor,” Camera noted.
Camera began her career training bloodhounds and has trained dogs for FEMA and other organizations. She also trains dogs to search for human remains. Her training is playful and fun, and the dogs see it as a game, rather than as learning new skills.
“We pair a reward with the target odor and the dog learns that if he finds the target, he gets the reward,” said Camera. “The dogs are playing and having fun.”
Innovative Solutions for Pest Control
Myers believes that the sky’s the limit when it comes to what dogs can detect for pest control purposes, particularly as an environmentally-friendly means of detection.
“Specifically, we plan to use dogs in the future for rodent control of commercial properties,” she said. “There are a lot of benefits that dogs can provide in the pest control industry, especially when you consider the growing need for green, organic solutions to pest problems.”
If you suspect bed bugs are present in your home or office, or if you’ve confirmed their presence and want professional treatment to get rid of them, get in touch with Pest Force today. We serve customers in Loganville, Athens, Winder, Monroe, and all over northwest metro Atlanta and would love the opportunity to serve your family and business with quality, affordable, pest control.