Bed bugs sniffing dogs. Canines may be useful in finding bed bugs in houses and other locations by assisting pest control workers. Dogs were first trained to aid in pest identification in around 2011.
Dogs can detect bed bugs in homes and other areas, even in difficult-to-reach places, using their own olfactory properties. Dogs must go through a high level of continuous training and have a pest control professional in the field with them to properly detect bed bugs.
Bedbugs continue to spread throughout the United States. More and more pest control businesses are turning to bedbug-sniffing dogs to locate these little, sometimes-elusive worms in other industrialized nations.
How well do these dogs’ noses serve them? If you had thousands of dollars to spend based on a dog’s nose, would you spend it on bedbug extermination?
The answer is usually yes, but not always for the majority of situations. There are dogs who are better prepared to do this kind of work than others, just like there are humans.
Those with extensive training and work with skilled handlers are the bedbug-sniffing dogs you want to locate.
A short history of bed bugs
For centuries, mankind has been plagued by bed bugs. In the 1990s, archaeologists found fossilized bed bugs while digging a 3,550-year-old site while excavating. They may also be seen in Aristophanes’ Ancient Greek plays.
Despite the fact that they have been around since the beginning of time, they truly started to flourish and multiply at an rapid pace once rail transportation became a common mode of travel.
Bed bugs were always found in hotels along important railroads, especially near major train stations. Customers’ luggage would be infested with bed bugs, which would be carried all over the globe to continue breeding.
Until World War II, when a pesticide called DDT was introduced to combat typhus and malaria, this cycle of bed bug expansion continued. Bed bug numbers started to diminish over the following 30 years as a result of this insecticide’s success at killing them.
Bed bugs have made a remarkable comeback globally since DDT was outlawed for health reasons and banned.
Can Pets Carry Bed Bugs?
Humans and pets are not hosts for bed bugs for long periods of time. Bed bugs, on the other hand, feed on people and animals.
Host-seeking bed bugs are drawn to warmth and carbon dioxide, although they prefer humans as a blood source.
Bed bugs will then feed on other hosts, such as pets, if a human blood source is not available.
Story of bed bugs sniffing dogs
A research on the usefulness of bed bug sniffing dogs was done by experts at the University of Florida in 2008.
Using a food reward system, dogs were trained to differentiate between bed bugs and other household pests (e.g., Florida carpenter ants, German cockroaches, and subterranean termites).
Bed bug detection dogs were taught to be more precise by using their sense of smell rather than sight. Dogs are taught to identify this particular scent because bed bugs release unique pheromones.
They could also explore locations that were previously off-limits to humans. This is an important skill since bed bugs prefer to hide in cracks and behind walls.
Dogs will scratch near the surface to notify their owners/trainers when bed bugs are detected, according to the research.
When there were no bed bugs present, dogs achieved a 97.5% success rate and did not mistake them. Dogs could also differentiate between live, dead, and empty bed bug eggs and exoskeletons with 95% accuracy.
In naturally infested apartments, a Rutgers University research completed in 2014 had lower detection success (47% effectiveness rate and 15% false positive rate) than when bed bugs were placed by researchers. Some trainer-dog teams were more effective than others.
The dogs were scratching at the spot where the bed bugs were breeding. Scientists also learned about the influence of dog ownership throughout their study. The dog’s accuracy rate was lowered when the owner was uninterested in it.
Insufficient training, environmental circumstances (e.g., high temperatures in un-air-conditioned flats), and other disturbances (e.g., other odors, mess) were also contributing factors to the dog’s failure.
In order for this strategy to be successful, a skilled pest control expert must conduct bed bug dog inspections in collaboration with a skilled technician.
How Accurate Are Bed Bug Sniffing Dogs?
Working canines may be taught to have very precise aim. Before being deployed to active duty, bomb-detecting dogs, for example, must be shown to be 100% accurate.
Dogs were shown to have a 95% success rate in identifying termite activity in a research published in 2003.
What about bed bugs, though? These pests are very good at concealing themselves in hard-to-reach areas filled with mess and other diversions, which they may do for long periods of time.
Bed bug dogs CAN be very good (>95%) at determining whether or not a bed is infested, but they aren’t always.
Bed bug detection dogs may be very good at discovering bed bugs, yet that doesn’t imply that every dog is.
Some dogs are good at their tasks, while others aren’t. Just like humans! Several of them have more thorough training and are handled by experienced handlers, while others do not.
Certifications for canine bed bug detection units are available as a result of this. To make sure that both the dog and its handler have the knowledge and skills needed to conduct bed bug inspections with a high degree of accuracy, third-party certification organizations like NESDCA set standards.
What Breeds of Dogs Sniff Out Bed Bugs?
Beagles are the most widely utilized bed bug detector dogs. Their exceptional biological capabilities allow them to smell smells in their surroundings. With over 200 million smell receptors, their low-hanging ears may hold odors in the air while their nose recognizes them.
Beagles may help identify pests and contraband, among other things, thanks to their past use for rabbit detection. Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Belgian Shepherds are some of the other bed bug sniffing dogs.
Each breed has a powerful sense of smell, which may assist in the detection of bed bugs, other pests, and wildlife. These dog breeds, like Beagles, need to be taught how to detect bed bugs effectively.
What Does the Research Show?
Bed bug dog accuracy rates of 95%, or even 98%, are frequently claimed or implied by pest control firms.
Those figures are usually based on a 2008 research by University of Florida researchers that looked at the accuracy of dog bed bug inspections and was the most often referenced research about the subject.
7 young dogs received extended training over 90 days to recognize the scent of live bed bugs and viable bed bug eggs in that experiment.
The dogs’ capacity to detect and distinguish between scents from other household pests was then investigated by researchers. Bed bug debris from an apparently dormant infestation (roach and termite droppings) Skins, feces, and dead bed bugs are all examples of shed skins.
The dogs had a 97.5% efficacy in determining live bed bugs from other household pests, with no false positives, overall.
With a 3% false positive rate from bed bug feces, they had a 95% accuracy rate at distinguishing live bed bugs and viable eggs from bed bug debris.
The dogs achieved an 98% accuracy rate in locating six hidden vials of bed bugs in a realistic hotel room setting with no false positives.
The findings were very encouraging, but projecting these accuracy rates to the rest of the bed bug dogs is probably exaggerated. Dr. explained it in this way: Philip G. is a fictitious name for the author of this piece. One of the study’s researchers, entomologist Koehler, is a professor of entomology.
Dogs can be taught to properly detect live bed bugs and viable bed bug eggs, but not all dogs and handlers are created equal, according to our research. The efficiency of the training, handlers, and tasks that canines are trained to perform determines their quality.
Another research, published in 2014, reinforced this conclusion.
The skills of 11 canine detection teams from pest control businesses in New Jersey, New York City, and Maryland were put to the test by Rutgers University researchers. According to the research, there were the following results:
-False positive rate: 15% overall average accuracy rate: 44%
-The 11 teams’ false positive rates and detection rates differed greatly, even on different days.
-In several cases, the handler misread the dog’s signals, not all of which were caused by the canines.
-The researchers couldn’t find a link between team accuracy and the experience or accreditation of the teams, due to their limited sample size.
-However, the most experienced dog and handler pair had worked together for barely three years, and less than half of the dogs and handlers had worked together for more than 12 months.
-In summary, there is little evidence in the real world that demonstrates how reliable bed bug sniffing dogs are.
According to current studies, dogs seem to have the potential of finding bed bugs with a much greater rate of accuracy than previous approaches, however it’s unclear if any one dog detection team can realize it.
5 Advantages Of Canine Bed Bug Inspections
Being nocturnal and very elusive are two of the bed bug’s many traits and characteristics. This strange characteristic wreaks havoc in the workplace and even inhibits certain pest management practitioners.
Although no live bugs or eggs have been discovered or properly identified, a business owner may occasionally suspect they are present inside the facility. Large hotels and motels, for example, will need thorough checks of the whole structure or structures to identify all diseased rooms.
Inspections and situations like this might take a long time and be expensive, but they may not always be effective. In these situations, specially trained bed bug scent detection canine teams will be necessary to properly identify and expose the bed bug infestation.
Using canine bed bug teams has at least five benefits:
1. All life stages are detected.
Both live bed bugs and live bed bug eggs can be detected by a properly trained and licensed bed bug canine. The only way to detect all stages of live bed bug development by scent is via this method.
2. The bed bug canine is highly accurate.
The verified canine has a remarkably high success rate, comparable to that of bomb-sniffing dogs, and is often utilized as such. Bed bug canines are accurate in their detection of live bed bug odor across mattresses, inside walls, and furniture.
3. Fast inspection times.
Bed bug canines are quick and efficient, in addition to being precise. In relatively little periods of time, they may effectively search whole structures. Large hotels can be inspected in a fraction of the time it takes to finish a visual check, giving owners peace of mind that the hotel is free of bed bugs.
4. Protect your image and reputation.
Well-trained and licensed dogs are recognized in courts of law as a scientific instrument due to their precision.
Your reputation and image will be much improved if you obtain certification from canine scent detection teams. The canine team will examine each space in a manner that minimalizes disruption and leaves no litter.
They eliminate the requirement to remove flooring, remove baseboard, and receptacle covers, or disassemble furniture, all of which protects your image and reputation since they have a strong smell detection.
5. Reduce the costs of treating a severe infestation by early detection.
A bed bug canine team can identify one bed bug as quickly as it can detect a severe infestation because of their precision. This early discovery allows you to save money by not having to treat your problem as thoroughly as if it were more severe. This also helps to avoid any losses due to business interruption.
Any business owner interested in preserving a successful firm while protecting the firm’s reputation and image will find these benefits appealing.
Require Evidence of Bedbugs
The message that homeowners should heed is to obtain additional, solid proof of bedbugs (or any pest for that matter) before agreeing to pay for their removal, regardless of the reason.
Visual proof is required. Ask the pest management expert to show you evidence or signs of a bedbug (alive or dead) before they do their own inspection.
(This isn’t always successful since both dogs might have been taught the same or a smell that threw off the first dog might also deceive the second dog.) Ask for a “second opinion,” which is to ask that a second bedbug-sniffing dog be deployed to check if it finds bedbugs.
Request that bedbug-alerting traps be placed in the vicinity where dogs are detected. Bedbugs should be detected and evidence shown if they are found, and the traps are properly placed.
Ask for the pest control expert’s most recent, independent, third-party certification, which meets the Minimum Standards for Canine Bed Bug Detection Team Certification and is endorsed by NPMA.
Doubts Rise on Bedbug-Sniffing Dogs
The statistic comes from a 2008 clinical study conducted under controlled environment by an entomological team at the University of Florida. Several dog companies claim an accuracy rate of 95% to 98%.
Although their results are informative, they don’t tell the whole story when it comes to a particular company’s dog in the actual world.
According to dog experts, a dog’s poor training or its handler’s lack of training can result in false positives. A different kind of insect might be detected by the dog.
Or the dog may be responding on purpose, such as when its handler reaches for a treat to reward the dog.
If a dog’s company also provided extermination treatment, according to Pepe Peruyero, a trainer at the J&K Canine Academy in Gainesville, Florida, it was “financially advantageous.”
Well-trained, highly attuned dogs can also create false alerts. Dogs might pick up on bedbug scents transmitted by clothes or wafting through ventilation from a neighboring apartment, according to Andrew Klein of Assured Environments in New York.
Mr. “We keep an eye on things if there isn’t a bug or a bite,” Klein remarked.
Just because bedbugs could not be found did not mean the dog was wrong, according to Bell Environmental Services, which performed the inspection in both buildings. Bedbugs might migrate or conceal themselves, according to the firm, and about half of individuals have no reaction to bedbug bites.
It’s difficult to see physical evidence. Fecal droppings are the size of an ink dot, and a newly hatched bedbug is the size of a pen tip.
In a statement, the company said, “Finding a bedbug in a haystack is akin to trying to locate a moving needle.”
Roscoe’s owner, Bell, said that it clearly informed consumers when its technicians had failed to confirm dog alerts with physical evidence, and that the choice to treat is made by co-op boards or locals.
According to Bell, if its conclusions are questioned, the firm will send in a second dog to check areas where dogs have detected but not discovered bedbugs, and utilize dogs that are regularly taught to smell them out and identify them from other insects.
False positives (there are also examples of false negatives when bedbugs are present but not detected) happen frequently enough that it’s unclear how often they lead to costly exterminatation measures.
Complaints filed against companies that use bedbug-sniffing dogs are not recorded by the state consumer protection boards in New York and New Jersey, according to the boards.
Mr. is another appropriate abbreviation for Mr. The National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association, which is run by Peruyero, the dog trainer, wants scent-detection dogs to be certified.
However, there is factionism and rivalry in the industry, according to Philip G. Koehler, an entomologist at the University of Florida, has raised a question about whether the dogs should be certified by a group.
Professor Koehler noted, “Bedbugs have progressed so swiftly that they’ve outpaced the rules.”