Monday, September 6, 2010

Dogs Who Find Bedbugs

Today is Labor Day, so I am going to tell you about a fairly new job that dogs are doing these days, and this job is sniffing out BEDBUGS.  It used to be that most of the bedbugs had been killed off, like after World War II, but now they are coming back again.  And the reason for this is because we can't use DDT to kill them anymore because DDT is Very Bad for birds and other living things besides just bugs.  And also people are traveling a lot more, so bedbugs hide in their luggage and get a free ride from one country to another.

Which means that now bedbugs are showing up in all sorts of places where people don't want them, like bedrooms, dorm rooms, hotels, and hospitals.  The bedbugs think human blood is yummier than any other kind of blood, so that's why they like to live where people live.  Bedbugs are really little, but not so little that you can't see them.  They are kind of flat when they haven't eaten any blood lately, but after they bite somebody and fill up with blood, they are lots fatter.

Bedbugs can go several months without eating at all, so you might have them in your house and not even know it.  When they come out to eat, they will bite somebody while they are sleeping and then feed for 5 or 10 minutes.  After that, they go crawl off someplace to hide and digest their food.  Some people don't even hardly notice that they have been bitten, but other people have more of a reaction.  Sometimes babies or old people can get anemia if they live where lots of bedbugs bite them.  But the surprising thing is that bedbugs don't carry any diseases, so I guess this means it is better to be bit by a bedbug than by a mosquito or a flea.

Anyway, there are several ways to get rid of bedbugs without using DDT, but it is best if you know whether you even have the bugs, and if so, where they are.  If you don't know these things, you might be wasting a lot of time and money.  So that is why the bedbug detection dogs are good to have around, because they can search a big building lots faster than people can.  Also they are right 98% of the time when they tell their handler that they have found bedbugs.

Remember how I keep telling you that dogs have really excellent noses?  Well, dogs can sniff out bedbugs in any of their life phases, even if they are still eggs, or if there are just one or two bedbugs, or if they are hidden in a crack in the floor or someplace like that.  Of course, the dogs have to be trained so that they will know what scent the handler wants them to find.  And then when they find it, they have to sit down or bark or do whatever they have been taught to do so that the handler will know that the dog smelled a bedbug.

Here are some videos of dogs on the job, searching for bedbugs:

Because of all the training and stuff, it's kind of expensive to hire a bedbug-detection dog, like maybe $325 an hour.  But the dog works fast and is honest, and people save money by using them because then they do not have to spray nasty chemicals in places where there aren't any bedbugs.

In some parts of the country, people are now hiring a dog to search a house for bedbugs before they buy the house.  In New York City, there is a really big bedbug problem because people live in apartments and condos with just a wall between them, and the bedbugs can crawl along the pipes and through very narrow spaces to get from one apartment to the next.

Anyway, that is one of the many important jobs that dogs are doing these days.  And I will just also mention that some of these same dogs are also trained to find termites or mold.  So it can be very useful to have a well-trained working dog around!


  1. WOW...I've always thought dogs were extra-special, and this blog just supports that thought! I can remember as a little girl going to bed and one of my parents saying, "don't let the bedbugs bite." I always thought they were kidding. I must say I am very very impressed that a dog can even detect a bedbug in the egg stage! I just asked Dodi/Di if they could do that (sniff out bedbugs), but all I got back was a stare. I hope I don't have any bedbugs, but if I do, I'm hiring a bedbug sniffer dog.
    Love, AP

  2. Mom wanted me to ask if you knew where I could get trained to sniff out bedbugs. She said at $325 and hour, I could be the big earner of the family. And if I were the big earner of the family, they'd probably feed me more.

    Your friend
    Zest, superstar in training

  3. Dear Zest,
    I don't know where you can get trained for this high-paying job, but if I find out, I'll let you know. I'd like to earn $325 an hour, too, but I am too lazy to work that hard. Hahahaha!

    Did you win Big Prizes in agility at the National? Mom and I can't find any results from agility. We only found conformation, obedience, sweepstakes, and rally.

    Your friend, Piper

  4. Let's just say mom wanted me to do the agility course, but I had something else in mind. Guess who won that discucssion. hehehe

    Superstar who mom says needs LOTS more training

    PS But I got first in my class in conformation

  5. Zest, you are very smart, and I'm glad you have your priorities! Congratulations on your conformation win, though.

    Your friend, Piper

  6. I HATE BED BUGS!!! It just makes my day so bad! And sadly, almost every house has those creatures. Ugh! But we can avoid them by having regular pest control in your home. My daughter's living in a dorm right now, and I'm glad that bugs don't bite her there!

  7. Dear Odessa,
    We don't have any bedbugs at my house yet, or at least I don't think so. We hope they won't ever come here because it is no fun being bit by them and also they are so hard to get rid of. I hope your daughter's dorm doesn't get any bedbugs!
    Sincerely, Piper

  8. This is really a good news. People are very busy with their daily activities. And the workload is gradually increasing day by day. In such a situation we need some dependable way of outsourcing our work. If dogs take the responsibility of bedbug identification then I will be very happy. Thanks for the exciting news.

  9. Bed bugs are really annoying as they snatch sound sleep from you and are carriers of many a diseases.