In a desperate move to tackle bed bugs in the UK, pest control experts are enlisting the help of highly trained sniffer dogs.
The tourism boom following the decline of COVID-19 has resulted in several hotels and businesses dealing with an infestation issue. And while bedbugs have caused a great deal of distress, some UK specialist firms have been reaping the benefits as they deploy their sniffer dogs to detect these pests in private residences and luxury hotels.
Typically, these companies bill anywhere between £150 ($182) and £350 ($425) for a three-bedroom house.
Growing demand for canine bedbug detectors in upscale hotels
Gary Jakeman, CEO of K9 Detection Services based in Solihull, West Midlands, informed The Guardian that he’s in high demand among upscale hotels. “We’re getting more and more interest. We’ve probably had a 25% increase in callouts since June,” Jakeman mentioned. He works with two expertly trained Springer Spaniels, Milo and Kobie. “These dogs are spot on. There’s very little that can get past a well-trained nose,” he said.
Training a bedbug-sniffing dog can take up to a year and a half. Just like how canines are trained to detect drugs, explosives, and money stashes, these dogs also rely on scent work. By picking up on the unique pheromone that bedbugs emit, these skilled pups can successfully track down the source of the infestation with incredible accuracy.
“In very high concentrations, you can smell it yourself,” remarked Dr. Richard Naylor, the director of the Bed Bug Foundation. The organization offers insights into these insects and collaborates with canine training institutions to prepare dogs for bedbug detection. He further added, “They produce a very pungent, recognizable smell.”
How sniffer dogs are a game-changer in combatting bedbugs
According to Jakeman, finding these insects can be a real hassle. They usually don’t wander more than a meter from their feeding spot. This makes them typically located at the head of the bed, and attempting to find them only with a torch and good eyesight can take several hours. Thankfully, with trained dogs, the process can be reduced to just a few minutes. These canines are capable of either identifying the pests or ruling them out with ease.
Furthermore, the effectiveness of canines in locating bedbugs significantly outperforms the conventional techniques used by pest control. Brian Leith from BDL Canine Services in South Lanarkshire, speaking to the Daily Star, mentioned, “It could take someone in pest control 20 minutes to find the bedbugs, if they can find them.” He continued, “To search the whole floor of a hotel is very time-consuming for humans. My boy can sometimes find them in less than ten seconds.”
The 60-year-old dog handler works with a four-year-old Sprocker named Benjy — a Cocker and Springer Spaniel mix. Together, they inspect up to five properties daily across Scotland and the north of England.
Bedbug sniffer dogs receive training at various schools, including those operated by the Bed Bug Foundation (BBF) and the National Association of Security Dog Users. Some hotels employ them on a quarterly basis to identify infestations in their early stages.
With the widespread use of sniffer dogs, UK residents can rest assured that they are in good hands when it comes to tackling bedbugs. These furry heroes are transforming the pest control landscape, offering a humane and efficient solution to a longstanding problem.