Monthly Archives: March 2011

Bed bug dog quality checklist

If you have ever seen a bed bug dog work and thought to yourself – “What is that dog doing?  My pet could do a better job than this!”  Then here are a few items to look for specifically to evaluate the quality of a working dog (no particular order):

  1. Motivation/Drive –  is the dog driven by its own internal personality or does the handler have to coax it to perform?
  2. Focus on the Task – Is the dog looking for bed bugs or is it foraging for crumbs of food?
  3. Relationship with Handler – Is the handler kind but structured with the dog or do they have to plead or threaten the dog to do the job?
  4. Weight & Health – does the dog look happy and healthy?  Over skinny or over weight means bad food management by the handler.
  5. Endurance – how long does the dog work? If it will only work for an hour there are other issues that need to be addressed.
  6. Over handled – does the dog have the freedom to work or is the handler directing every single move it makes with a tight leash.  Over handling can make a dog handler-dependent and less effective at their job
  7. Hides – does the handler put out hides so the dog can be successful and rewarded?  This is critical to proper motivation.  However, if you can see the hide and the dog can lick it, it is not placed well.  Is the handler careful about not leaving their own scent on the bed bug vials?
  8. Alerts – when they alert do you find evidence?  100% non confirmed alerts = bad handling,  I expect a few bed bugs to be elusive but not all of them.

A well-trained accurate dog will search on their own for bugs, knows where to look without constant direction and is motivated from within.   A rock star bed bug dog will make you say “WOW, I can’t believe that he/she found that!”

To learn more about Sade, the rock star dog, visit The Bed Bug Answer.

Hotel best practices for “getting in front of” bed bugs

Most hotel owners I talk to are frustrated, nervous and struggling to stay on top of their newest headache – the bed bug.  If bed bugs take hold of a hotel it takes determination and the proper tools to 1) get rid of bed bugs and 2) to identify them before the guests do.  Ignoring the problem will create a PR and customer relations nightmare for the hotel.  Improperly treating the infestation will exacerbate the problem and accelerate the movement of bed bugs in to adjacent rooms.  Managers don’t tend to know the best way to stop the problem, much less how to contain it.

So first things first – if you have a current infestation in a room in a hotel, the likelihood that there are more rooms infested is good.  You must get a clear picture of what is happening in every room in order to treat the problem effectively.  The most efficient and accurate way to do this is utilizing a canine inspection.  A trained bed bug dog doing a through inspection can sweep on average 15-20 rooms an hour and most companies will charge by the room for this service.  The dog inspection will provide details on which rooms are infested giving the hotel manager and the technician the information to identify trends and linkages in the hotel that may influence the extermination effort.

Once the infested rooms are identified then heat extermination of those rooms is essential.  The heat will kill all stages of bed bugs without chasing the bed bugs to other rooms. 360 degree (top, bottom, right and left) treatments are not necessary either.  Remember, we used the dog to determine the reach of the bed bugs.  Furnishings don’t have to be discarded if heat is used because the whole room is sterilized in the treatment.  It is important to note that all infested rooms should be put on lock-down and treated as quickly as possible to avoid the natural spread of the bugs.  So cook every room and start your next phase with the knowledge and confidence that you have a clean slate.

Once your hotel is clean, we want to keep it that way.  Since you are by nature of your business turning rooms quickly, it is likely that a new guest is going to bring a few bed bugs with them every once in a while.  These bugs will take up residence in your facility.  In a prior blog we discussed the rapid reproduction of bed bugs – the net is that one fertilized female can create over 700+ bugs in just under 90 days.  Their growth is rapid and exponential.  To prevent other guests from coming in contact with the new bugs it is critical to have everyone looking for them.  All housekeeping staff must be trained to identify bed bugs and offering a bounty will motivate them to be on a constant vigil.   In addition to staff training the dog inspection team should be brought back frequently to inspect and monitor the hotels bed bug activity.  Quarterly is sufficient if you are checking the whole hotel, every 6 weeks is better, given the bed bug growth cycles.  With dog inspections the bed bugs will be caught before they impact the guests or your online PR reputation.

Feel free to contact us for a comprehensive bed bug program for your hotel.  Bed bugs are not inevitable and uncontrollable, we just need to get a handle on your situation and then build proactively from there.

Ashley, Atlanta Bed Bug Control

Do’s and Dont’s of Bed Bug Spray

The research has been widely publicized that bed bugs have developed a resistance even an immunity to many pesticides.  So spraying bed bugs to ELIMINATE an infestation will not work.  You may kill a few with sprays but heat, steam, the vacuum, and a lot of elbow grease  are the best tools to eliminate an infestation.  Pesticide chemicals (the harsh stuff, the botanicals, or even the natural oils) all have a repellent characteristic that bed bugs are particularly attune to.  If you spray it on the bed bugs you find, it will likely kill them, but the ones you miss will be driven into hiding away from the sprayed areas.  This will expand your infestation area significantly and make the remediation effort harder.

However, if you don’t have an infestation yet,  the story is a bit different.  Lets take this resistance and repellent problem and use it to our advantage.  If you find an over-the-counter spray with a repellent nature, then spray it on your suitcase, briefcase, or even clothes when traveling. When bed bugs are looking for an item to hitchhike on, they will likely choose another bag that does not have repellent. This should help you avoid bringing them home.

That being said, your personal items are the ONLY things you should spray.  Using the spray on a hotel bed will do nothing to protect you and only expand the infestation as described above.

May the heat be with you!

Ashley, Atlanta Bed Bug Control

National Bed Bug Association Launch

The National Bed Bug Association launches this month!  If you are interested in becoming a charter member – read on!

The NBBA is the ONLY Non-Profit association dedicated entirely to the education and eradication of bed bugs.The NBBA has been developed because of a tremendous need to unite the nation in the battle against bed bugs.  Although education and awareness is the forefront of the association it’s also going to be a great asset in uniting service providers, vendors and those in need of service by being a “One Stop” organization for all bed bug needs.

Included in the NBBA membership will be individuals and companies from the hospitality industry, medical industry, cleaning industry, pest control industry as well as others affected to involved with bed bug issues.  The goal of the NBBA is to unite industry professionals with common needs, to find solutions through research and partnerships and to increase public awareness through education.

The attachment is the membership application as well as the advertising information for the first issue of the magazine.  I hope you will join us in our fight against the bed bug!

May the heat be with you!

Ashley, Atlanta Bed Bug Control

Never try DIY Heat for Bed Bugs

There are a few outcomes from an individual attempting to “heat” their environment for bed bug remediation on their own.  None of them are pretty or successful.

  1. You heat your home with your home heater system – won’t reach the correct temps to kill bed bugs
  2. You heat your home with kerosene or propane heater – HUGE fire risk, will likely violate your homeowners insurance so if you happen to burn the house down it is unlikely you will have money to re-build.  Secondly there is no way for you to determine if you have the right temp in every corner of your house, which defeats the whole purpose of the heat.  It is critical that a home is heated evenly and in every nook and cranny that a bug might hide.  Otherwise you have risked your greatest asset for poor results.
  3. Gasoline – enough said. Each year there are multiple reports of people smoking while working with gasoline and causing a huge explosion.  I don’t know of any professional system that utilizes gas.
  4. Hair Dryer – will kill the ones you aim it at, but so will pesticide.  It is the eggs that keep you coming back for more.
  5. Physical Heat Exhaustion – very easy to achieve when working at these temperatures, you will pass out.  It is impossible to monitor heat progress without remote sensors.

The reason the heat is successful is due to a few factors:

  1. It reaches every nook and cranny and your professional heat exterminator knows how to make that happen.
  2. It kills all stages of bed bug effectively, even the eggs that no one can see.
  3. It is safe.  The Temp-Air (electric) system alone has over 100 customers across the United States doing this daily.
  4. We stage a room in a way to ensure the isolation, capture, and swift kill of a bed bug.  Yes there are a host of tricks that make it successful and you learn those through training and experience, not the internet.
  5. The system has a monitoring computer and sensors that provide up to the minute data on what is happening in the space that is being treated.  This insures success and the health of the exterminator.

If you need a home heating device, pick up a PackTite and use your dryer.  If you need to cook the whole house, call a professional!