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You are here: Home > Methods of Bed Bug Inspection & Detection
Visual Inspection
 
The most common form of bed bug detection is visual inspection, however without the trained knowledge to identify the telltale signs of an infestation, it can also be the least effective. The reason visual detection can be ineffective is due to the elusive and secretive nature of the bed bug preferring to hide in areas that are not easily accessible to visual inspection.

Usually the first telltale signs of a bed bug infestation start with bite marks appearing on the face, neck, arms, hands and other body parts.  Additional signs of bed bugs may include rusty-colored blood spots from their blood-filled fecal material that is often excreted on the mattress or nearby furniture. In the later stages of an infestation more noticeable signs will include a sweet musty odor,  the exoskeletons of bed bugs after molting, and the appearance of bed bugs in the folds of mattresses and sheets.


Mattress Encasements
 
In addition to protecting your mattress from allergens and fluids, mattress encasements have proven themselves as a valuable early detection system for the signs of bed bugs. By eliminating the primary hiding spots for bed bugs in the mattress and box spring, mattress encasements have helped to expose many cases of bed bugs by forcing them to travel on the outside of the encasement where they are more readily visible.

While not all mattress encasements are created equally, bed bug certified mattress encasements provide additional protection from bed bug bites and effectively quarantine infested mattresses and box springs.

With the use of a bed bug certified mattress encasement, it may not be necessary to dispose of an infested mattress or box spring.  If used in accordance with an integrated pest management solution, bed bug certified encasements can protect the monetary value of your bedding, while eliminating the primary bed bug harborage areas.


Click here to learn more about mattress ecasements.


Canine Scent Detection
Copyright 2011 Elgaad

Bed bug detection dogs are specially trained by handlers to identify the scent of bed bugs.

With the increased focus on green pest management and integrated pest management, bed bug detection dogs are gaining popularity in North America.  Dogs are a safe addition to pesticide used as a management strategy.  If operators can find out exactly where bed bugs are located, they can minimize the area that needs to be sprayed.

Bed bug detection dogs are a viable and scientifically-proven alternative to traditional methods of pest detection.  A 2008 report by the University of Kentucky Department of Entomology endorsed bed bug detection dogs by stating that the ‚Äúreliability of the dogs has been impressive provided they are properly trained."
 
Scientists at the university reviewed studies on the dogs and concluded that although expensive for operators, canine detection dogs were promising.  Research conducted by the University Of Florida Department Of Entomology indicated that well trained bed bug scent detection canines are up to 98% accurate.  Many experienced bed bug professionals support the use of well trained and maintained bed bug dogs.

Dogs smell in parts per trillion, something a human cannot do, and detect bed bugs through all life cycle phases from eggs to nymphs to adults.  References indicate that the average dog has about 250 million receptors and that blood hounds have about 350 million.  Bed bug detection dogs are relatively new.  The National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association, states that there are over 100 dogs currently working in the U.S.


Video Courtesy of David Bohannan - Detective Bed Bug © 2011

Single use dogs are specially trained to seek out bed bugs only.  Canine security dogs used by the military or in airports are trained for a single detection purpose.  Canine dogs trained for multiple pest detection are more likely to alert for a variety of pests instead of just bed bugs.  For this reason, canines specifically trained for bed bug detection, will offer superior results.  Bed bug detection is complicated by the fact that the insects can hide almost anywhere.  Bed bug detection dogs solve this problem because they are small and agile, finding bugs in places humans cannot such as wall voids, crevices, and furniture gaps.

There are many breeds that make suitable scent detection canines.  Beagles and other small to medium breed dogs seem to be the most popular breeds being trained for these purposes.  Small breed dogs are less intimidating and can be lifted to smell in hard to reach areas.  Smaller dogs are easier to transport, take up much less space, and are easier overall to board.

Scent detection dog handlers are trained professionals.  These handlers receive extensive training by the canine training center that they acquire their dog from.  Recently the University of Florida worked in cooperation with scent detection dog trainers to establish scent detection dog training certification and an association known as NESDCA.

 
Traps and Interception Devices
 
Several types of passive bed bug interception devices are currently available. These devices do not use lures or attractants to entice the bed bugs into the device, but rather rely on the natural habits of these pests to intercept and capture them. These types of passive detection systems can be effective both in detecting the early stages of an infestation as well as monitoring between treatments during an infestation.  The most common of these include pitfall style interception devices and glue traps.

Pitfall style interceptors are a simple trap device placed under the legs of the bed or furniture. Once installed the interceptor captures bed bugs as they travel to and from hiding spots. These pitfall style traps work by allowing the bed bug to climb up the exterior of the device but then fall into a well that has smooth slippery sides they are unable to climb out. Some of these pitfall style traps may also include a glue trap within the pitfall area.

Glue traps are small, thin and work effectively as detection devices in small and hard to get to locations such as behind picture frames, mirrors or the headboard. These simple passive devices work by exploiting the bed bugs nature to hide in tight, small dark spaces. By offering the bed bugs an ideal hiding place, they are easily caught by the glue located inside the trap. As a monitoring device, these glue traps can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of a treatment plan as well as the spread of bed bugs from room to room during treatment.

 
Active Monitoring Devices
 
Recently, electronic monitoring devices have been developed for the detection of bed bugs. These active monitoring devices use a combination of heat, carbon dioxide, and human pheromones to lure bed bugs from their hiding spots. Some of these devices include run timers and pitfall style traps to catch and detect bed bugs, while others require active monitoring to detect the presence of bed bugs.

As with passive interception devices, these active monitoring devices are used by pest management professionals to determine the effectiveness of treatment programs and the spread of bed bugs from room to room during treatment. 


Important Note on Bed Bug Detection
 
With bed bugs, it is important to note that with any detection method, low level infestations may escape detection. Because of the elusive nature of bed bugs, failure to identify their presence should not be used as an indicator that no bugs are present. Low level infestations can escape detection making ongoing monitoring an important part of an effective integrated pest management solution.

Detection tools are intended as monitoring tools and should not be confused as a complete solution to bed bug problems.