So you think you have bed bugs? Bites? Found a bug that really looks like a bed bug you’ve seen pictured online? What are your choices? Catch the bug with a piece of clear tape, put it in a sealed baggie and take a picture on your phone.
You can contact a bed bug organization to get more information and feedback on whether the bug you found is in fact a bed bug. You can also contact an exterminator or a bed bug dog service. Both should be able to help you. But you don’t have a picture and you don’t want to wait it out.
Exterminators will generally send out a technician to go through your facility to look for bed bugs. If you have a heavy infestation it will be obvious to the technician and you won’t need bed bug detection dogs. If the facility is large and you need to determine exactly where the infestation is a bed bug dog is indicated. And if you have a light infestation a dog is 60+% more successful than a human at finding the bed bugs. The dog can also pinpoint the location so it might not be necessary to treat an entire bldg or even an entire house.
You’ve just come back from a trip and think the bed bugs have just moved into your house. No big infestation and you want a bed bug detection dog. Some exterminators have their own dogs that are owned by the company. Others use independent contractors with dogs. And finally there are bed bug inspection dog services that you can go to directly. Why one over the other? The independent services are not affiliated with an extermination company so they are unbiased about finding bugs. There is no advantage to them in finding bugs as there may be to an extermination company. The real money is in the treatment process not the inspection process. So even if an extermination company tells you there is no charge for the dog inspection, that is factored in to the treatment cost.
Questions to ask the service about their bed bug detection dogs. Are they certified? If a dog is not certified you have to ask why. There are various certification boards that ensure that the dog is reliable, truthful and able to differentiate live vs dead bugs. Personally I would only use a service that has certified dogs. Also ask about training. The guidelines for working dogs are minimally 16 hours of training a month. Any handler should be keeping training logs of the dog’s training sessions. Also you want to confirm that the service has liability insurance should anything happen.
If you decide to go to an independent bed bug inspection dog service and they find bed bugs, you can find an exterminator or ask the service for some recommendations. There are options to heat treat or chemical treat and it’s worth taking your time to find out the best alternative for your situation.