Monthly Archives: May 2011

When to use a bed bug dog

A bed bug dog is an extraordinary detection tool.  They are literally better and faster than any trained human at finding bed bugs.  Here is how we recommend utilizing a bed bug dog in your situation…

Hotel:

  1. Proactive inspections of rooms to ensure you are bed bug free
  2. Validation of claims
  3. To determine the spread of an infestation in the hotel
  4. To validate extermination in a room

Multifamily:

  1. To determine the spread of infestations
  2. To validate extermination in a room

Homeowner:

  1. To determine if you have bed bugs – Peace of Mind
  2. To determine where you have bed bugs – did they move from the master bed room to the living room?
  3. To validate extermination – did my treatment work?

May the heat be with you!

Ashley, Atlanta Bed Bug Control

Bed Bugs on the Late Show

David Letterman & Mary Louise Parker on Bed Bugs

Bed bug dog handling issues in Pest Control

As the bed bug dog  industry grows dog quality will become an issue.  Not because of the initial training of the dogs but from the ongoing training of the dog with their handler.  The same thing happened about 8 years ago with Arson dogs (accelerant) and has always been challenged with drug detection dogs in the courts.  It is up to the folks in this industry to set the standards, maintain the standards and ensure that the public knows what to look for in a quality team.

So here is the typical scenario…Pest Control expert buys a bed bug dog, goes through days of training, and takes his dog home to work.  There is no upper level quality control, there is no handler supervisor who has years of dog experience.  The newbie handler effectively becomes that companies dog expert, but is not an expert at all.  After a few weeks and months the dogs have strange quirks that the handler does not know how to fix and does not know how they happened.  The quality of the dog spirals downward.  One year later when they go for re-certification they fail.  The expensive bed bug dog is now an expensive pet.  The company would have been much better off hiring a professional dog handler and training them on bed bugs.

The biggest problem areas I see in pest control dog detection are the following:

  1. The dog is a pet on the weekends and a tool during the week – the dog does not understand the changes and alternating hurts the dogs focus and training
  2. The dog knows how to learn – they were taught how to learn in their months of training, but they can learn bad habits from a newbie handler just as easily.
  3. There is no “practice” with a dog.  You either do the handling technique correctly, how the dog was trained, or don’t do it at all.  If you have to practice an activity with a dog you will teach it something outside of how they were trained.  This creates a vicious cycle of training degradation
  4. The handler wants the dog to be successful.  On first glance this is great, but ultimately it will make the dog handler dependent.  When a handler puts out a hide for the dog they inadvertently key the dog to the location of the hide.  So the dog learns that “my handler always knows where the bugs are, so I will look to him to show me”  The dog stops searching on their own and is constantly looking to the handler for confirmation.
  5. Reinforcement of odors is not as simple as it seems and there are a ton of ways a handler can mess this up.  Hide management – location of hide placement, how to place a hide, how to manage human odors on hides, varying hide containers, etc

Ashley, Atlanta Bed Bug Control

3 Deaths Attributed to Bed Bug Insecticide

An over zealous hotel in Thailand is being blamed for the deaths of 3 female tourists.  60 minutes claims that the hotel used chlorpyrifos, an insecticide “voluntarily removed from residential use” in the US, to kill bed bugs.  According to 3news out of New Zealand, Sarah Carter’s death was one of several in Chiang Mai over a period of several weeks earlier this year. A link is also being drawn with the mystifying case of the deaths of young tourists American Jill St Onge and Norwegian Julie Bergheim on Phi Phi in 2009.

Chlorpyrifos has not been shown to cause cancer but is a neuro-toxin.  Its effects on children, especially unborn, are significant and has been attributed to ADHD.  It is currently still being utilized in the US for agriculture such as cotton, corn, almonds and fruit trees.

Here is the full video.  The video also identifies Propoxur as a trace chemical found in the girls room.  The online text does not highlight it, but there is a great deal of discussion on the “re-approval” of this product in the US.  Ohio has petitioned the EPA for its re-use against bed bugs.  EPA has declined the request.

May the heat be with you!

Ashley, Atlanta Bed Bug Control Specialist

How to check your hotel room for bed bugs

I work with hotels to support them in their clean up of bed bugs.  One should know that hotels don’t want bed bugs anymore than you do.  Getting bed bugs is bad luck and we all need to practice prevention techniques to curb the expansion of this pest.  When you check into a hotel your inspection of the room is as much to protect yourself but it is also a service to the hotel.  Trust me, they do not want you to have this problem.  So take the time to check the room thoroughly and you will be a much happier guest.

When I check into a room I do the following:

  1. My luggage goes into the bath tub until further notice.  Bed bugs cannot climb up glass, porcelain is difficult.
  2. I use my flashlight to look at the mattress, the box spring, the bed skirt and all the linens.  I look for any sign of the bed bug – feces, skins, or actual bugs.
  3. Then I look behind the headboard.  While often heavy and difficult to do, it is well worth the effort.
  4. I attempt to look behind the picture above the bed.  Often it is secured to the wall but you can still check the edges.
  5. Lastly, I check the bed side tables.  In the drawers, on the backside, in the nooks and crannies.
  6. Once I am satisfied that I don’t see anything myself I will move into the room.  That means that my luggage stays in the bathroom on the tile floor and nothing is put on the beds.  The first night is restless, but after the first night, I sleep well.

May the heat be with you!

Ashley, Atlanta Bed Bug Control

Avoid Bed Bug Scams

This is a good piece done by CBS in April of 2011.  What a great endorsement of bed bug dogs!

May the heat be with you!

Ashley, Atlanta Bed Bug Control

Protect yourself from the summer camp bed bug

Summer is upon is upon us which means suitcases, travel and summer fun.  But you should realize that next to eating, travel is the bed bugs favorite thing to do.  If little Jane or Johnny are headed to summer sleep-over camp there are a few things you should think about when they return.  Most importantly, are they bringing anyone else home from camp that is unwelcome?

Camps face an unusual challenge when it comes to bed bugs.  First, everyone that is coming is from somewhere else.  The camp has very little control on what is brought into their environment.  Surprisingly there are families who consider living with bed bugs as “ok”, some just don’t know they have them yet and some have them but can’t get rid of them.  So the likelihood of a camp growing a summer bed bug infestation is pretty good.  In addition, many campers and counselors are not familiar with the sign of bed bugs.  Bites can be chalked up to mosquitoes and frankly bugs are expected at camp. So a bed bug infestation may be inadvertently allowed to grow.  Lastly, camps often have open buildings for cabins making the bed bug extermination effort very challenging.

That being said, protecting your home when Jane and Johnny come home is critical. Here is what I would do to protect my  home…

  1. Educate your child on the signs, symptoms and the look of a bed bug.  Education is the first tool.
  2. I very rarely endorse bed bug sprays, but cedar oil is a great repellent for bugs.  I would spray the outside of my suitcase or camp trunk with cedar oil.  Not sure how long it lasts so send it with them to camp for repeat applications.
  3. When the kids arrive home unpack the trunk in the garage.  Separate laundry into garbage bags by color for heating.  Fully close bags for transport into the laundry room.  Move them one at a time as you do each load.  Point is, don’t drag an open bag through your house that can drop bugs along the way.
  4. DRY the clothes on high heat first for an hour.  Then wash and dry as normal.
  5. Dispose of the garbage bag OUTSIDE.
  6. If you are not in the mood to go through all this, pack your child in smaller suitcases and then get a hold of a PackTite.  Then when they return home you can just put the whole thing in the PackTite for heating.  Once the suitcase has been heated, it can be safely brought into the home.

Happy camp!  And may the heat be with you!

Ashley, Atlanta Bed Bug Control