Wednesday 20 June 2007

Don't let the bedbugs bite

Trained dogs can detect the scent of everything from bombs to humans, and now bedbugs may be added to list of things dogs can sniff out.
While termite-sniffing canines have been used since at least the 1990’s, a resurgence of bedbugs over the past few years prompted the additional training.
Dog handler Peruyero’s J&K Canine Academy in High Springs, Florida, has been teaching dogs like Nudie, a Chinese crested terrier mix, to find the elusive insects. Peruyero said many different breeds, including mixes, are up to the task, but "hound types tend to work better."
More than one trainer handles the dogs, which work every day, to get them used to dealing with different people. A food reward system — usually treats procured from a bag latched onto the handler’s waist — encourages the dogs to sniff and search for bedbugs. Repetitive training teaches the canines to associate bedbug odours with work, which, in turn, is associated with tasty treats.
Bedbugs are wingless, reddish brown, oval-shaped nocturnal parasites that feed on the blood of humans and other warm-blooded hosts. Their name comes from their insidious habit of hiding in bedding before feeding on people at night.
A spokeswoman for the National Pest Management Association, said that from 2000 to 2005, bedbug inquiries to pest control agencies went up 71 percent. While it is estimated that termites cause around $5 billion worth of damage each year in the United States, she explained that it hasn't been possible to assess their total monetary damage because there is a "stigma" that keeps hotel and building managers from reporting them.
No one is entirely sure why bedbugs have been on the rise, but entomologists have proposed that increased travel may play a role since the parasites may hitch a ride in luggage and clothing. Still others have suggested that the U.S. ban on the insecticide DDT, which is linked to health and environmental impacts, led to the bedbug increase.
Researcher indicate that the bedbug-sniffing dogs offer a more environmentally friendly, and perhaps an even more effective solution to the problem.


Radio said...

that's amazing, is training for search & rescue, a much more scented business.

jmb said...

That's a very interesting post Eurodog although I couldn't help laughing. The question in my mind is what happens next when the bedbugs are discovered by the bedbug sniffing dogs.

Anonymous said...

What about all the hairs that are left in the bed after the dog has done its work? And if the bugs are really delicious, wouldn't the matress/sheets be covered in saliva? May be scientifically sound, but I am sure my wife would find it disgusting!

Flowerpot said...

What is there that dogs can't do? Mind you, I'm not sure how my Mollie would fare. Interesting post though. Thanks ED.

Anonymous said...

Oh no! Where are we going to sleep now?

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Very interesting indeed. Just shows how bright doggies are! Where are they being used to sniff for bedbugs, though ? - in inspections of hotels, for instance?

Mopsa said...

Now, I love dogs, and think some of them mighty clever, but I also was led to believe that there wasn't a mattress more than 6 months old that DIDN'T have bedbugs, unless it was of the foamy sort (hence my Dunlopillo). So I suspect the dogs are smelling slowly ageing bed with bedbug accompaniment in practically every bedroom.

Anonymous said...

I'm always immensely impressed at how dogs can be trained this way. Credit should go to the trainers too for their skill and patience.

Eurodog said...

Thank you all for your comments.
Bed Bug, I suggest you move to the dog basket!
John Lancaster, my children used to have this wonderful expression-my husband too-in the event of dirty clothes: "Mymmy, will wash it".
I feel this once again is a money making affair.