ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) - Critters beware — the hounds are on the loose.
The new weapons in the intensifying fight against bed bugs are bug-sniffing dogs, who can detect the pests much better than human inspectors.
Bed bugs have become an increasing problem in the last few years, and the speed and accuracy with which the inspector-dogs detect the bugs makes them an asset to pest control.
Mike Rottler of Rottler Pest & Lawn Solutions has recently employed the use of dogs in bed bug detection. Rottler says the bed bug is a rising nationwide problem.
“I think I probably saw bed bugs twice in the first twenty years in the business,” Rottler said. “Now it’s pretty much a daily occurrence.”
Rottler said the rise in bed bugs can be attributed to the products used to eradicate them, as well as an increase in human travel. He said some products that were used to fight the bugs are no longer available, and other products, such as DDT, are no longer effective, as the bugs have built up a resistance to them.
Rottler said that traditionally human inspectors have alone searched for bed bugs, but that this only provides a success rate of 30-40%.
“These things are difficult to find, they’re small,” Rottler said. “Just shortly after hatching, they’re almost transparent and they’re not much bigger than a pinhead.”
Rottler said that bed bug-sniffing dogs, however, can detect the pests with a 90-95% success rate and much faster than human inspectors. The dogs that he employs are Fern, a shepherd mix, and Barney, a beagle/basset hound mix. The dogs were trained at two detection dog training facilities, and Rottler says new regulations raise the bar for the canines to make sure that they are trained properly.
Once the bugs are detected, Rottler says he sometimes uses heat treatment to quickly eradicate the problem, which is useful in places that need a fast turnaround, such as hotel rooms and apartments. Pest control specialists also use a range of products, depending on the situation.
Rottler said human reactions to bed bugs vary widely, with some people developing painful welts and others not even noticing the bites.
Copyright KMOX Radio.