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Frequently-Asked Questions about Bed Bug Detection

As you can imagine, as a regional leader in bed bug detection and management, we receive a log of questions about the little critters. We have summarized some of the most frequently-encountered questions here, but we cordially invite you to use the form at the right to ask us YOUR question about bed bugs and bed bug treatments.

Questions About Our Dogs

  • Where do you get your dogs?

From many different sources, including Dog Rescue groups, and specialized facilities that teach dogs how to detect. Tabitha (pictured on our home page), for instance, came to us from a Florida training academy, where she was sent after being rescued from an abusive relationship. She was Regional Pest Management's FIRST bed bug detection dog, and is still one of our best!

  • Are pure-bred dogs needed to detect bed bugs?

Not a bit. In Tabitha's case, the trainer thought she was a wire-haired Jack Russell terrier. The rescue group that first found her thought she was a wire-haired fox terrier. We have settled on her being a finely blended "Halethorpe" terrier!

  • Do your dogs just detect bed bugs?

Nope. We have BLUESTONE — a specifically trained RODENT DETECTION dog, too! this turns out to be somewhat rare — when we attended a recent National Pest Management Canine Conference we learned that Regional Bed Bud Detection had the first dog ever certified by the National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association (NESDCA)!

As a result, we have been requested to use Bluestone on whole building sweeps, just like our corps of bed bug dogs, to make sure the treated facility is cleared of rodents.

  • How do you train a dog to detect rodents?

Well, like the bed bug dogs, the rodent dog is only supposed to alert on live rodents, so this means (just like with bed bugs), we train her using live rodents. Well, compared to keeping bed bug colonies alive for training, the rodent training aids are a lot easier to keep going because they are lab rats, basically. So, they're much cuter, too!

Questions About Bed Bugs

  • What is a bed bug?

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. Bed bugs are reddish-brown in color, wingless, range from 1mm to 7mm (roughly the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny), and can live several months without a blood meal.

  • Has there really been a resurgence in bed bugs in the USA, and how do you know?

There certainly HAS been an increase in bed bug infestations. In fact, according to our data, 95% of pest management companies report encountering a bed bug infestation within the past 12 months. It had been thought that bed bugs were mostly eradicated following World War II, and, prior to 2000, only 25% of all pest management companies had EVER even encountered a bed bug! But now, one in five Americans now report having had a bed bug infestation, or knowing someone who has encountered bed bugs at home or in a hotel, according to a recent National Pest Management Association (NPMA) survey. See our NEWS page for many recent articles on this subject!

  • Where have you been finding bed bugs?

These pests are not limited to any one specific type of dwelling or building. We have been finding infestations everywhere including single family homes, multi-family housing, apartments, hotels, hospitals, schools and college campuses.

But even more surprising, office buildings, retail stores, movie theaters and even public transportation systems (buses, trains, airplanes) have become loci for bedbug infestation. Again, as our NEWS page reports, these days even five-star hotels and high-end clothing stores are susceptible to infestation, because their presence is not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions where they are found!

Bed bugs are found across the globe from North and South America, to Africa, Asia and Europe. Although the presence of bed bugs has traditionally been seen as a problem in developing countries, it has recently been spreading rapidly in parts of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe.

  • What states have been affected?

Pest control companies have reported bed bug activity on a national scale. Bed bugs are being found from the East Coast to the West Coast and everywhere in between, and in generally even percentages. So no region is safe, and continual vigilance is needed.

  • I've heard that bed bugs are hard to treat. Is that true? Can't we just wash thoroughly and get rid of them?

Bed bugs should not be equated with filth or sanitation problems — in hotels or in homes, for that matter. Bed bugs are very elusive, transient pests. They are often found in other areas besides the bed. And they are hardy. They can live for a year or more without eating and can withstand a wide range of temperatures from nearly freezing to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. Bed bugs can only be controlled with vigilance, constant inspection and treatment by professional pest control companies.

  • What can a consumer do to protect from bed bug infestations?

To prevent bed bug infestations, consumers need to be vigilant in assessing their surroundings. When returning from a trip, check your luggage and clothing. If you think you may have a bed bug infestation, contact a pest control professional. This is not a pest that can be controlled with do-it-yourself measures.

  • Why are bed bugs an issue for hotels, visitors, and homeowners?

Bed bug infestations usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep. These areas include apartments, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms. They hide during the day in places such as seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, inside cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, or any other clutter or objects around a bed. Bed bugs have been shown to be able to travel over 100 feet in a night but tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep.

  • Are bed bugs just in beds?

Alas, no: bed bugs are not just in beds. They can be in chair cushions, sofas, behind electrical outlets, in cracks and crevices around baseboards, or even hiding behind picture frames. In other words, they can be live pretty much anywhere.

  • How can you control bed bugs?

Any effective bed bug control strategy should start with a careful, thorough inspection by a pest control professional of all known and suspected spots where the bugs may be harboring. This is not a pest that can be controlled effectively with do-it-yourself measures. As bed bugs are discovered, the pest control professional will develop a treatment and control strategy with the customer depending on the extent of the infestation. One of the advantages of our bed bug-sniffing dogs is the ability to detect bed bugs in specific places, sometimes within a room, which greatly ameliorates treatment and preparation measures.

  • Can I get sick from bedbugs?

Bedbugs are not currently known to spread any diseases to humans. However, their bites can leave behind itchy, red welts which can become infected from scratching.

A bed bug bite affects each person differently. Bite responses can range from an absence of any physical signs of the bite, to a small bite mark, to a serious allergic reaction. An allergic reaction to several bites may need medical attention.

There are some indications (see our NEWS page) that bed bugs may harbor MRSA (methicillin-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus), and if that proves to be widespread, real problems may develop.

  • How do I know if I’ve been bitten by a bed bug?

It is hard to tell if you’ve been bitten by a bed bug unless you find bed bugs or signs of infestation. When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from realizing they are being bitten. Most people do not realize they have been bitten until bite marks appear anywhere from one to several days after the initial bite. The bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea — a slightly swollen and red area that may itch and be irritating. The bite marks may be random or appear in a straight line. Other symptoms of bed bug bites include insomnia, anxiety, and skin problems that arise from profuse scratching of the bites.

Because bed bug bites affect everyone differently, some people may have no reaction and will not develop bite marks or any other visible signs of being bitten. Other people may be allergic to the bed bugs and can react adversely to the bites. These allergic symptoms can include enlarged bite marks, painful swellings at the bite site, and, on rare occasions, anaphylaxis.

  • How did this happen to me?

Don't blame yourself. Bed bugs are experts at hiding. Their slim flat bodies allow them to fit into the smallest of spaces and stay there for long periods of time, even without a blood meal. They can live for a year without eating!

Bed bugs are usually transported from place to place as people travel. They travel in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture, and anywhere else where they can hide. Most people do not realize they are transporting stow-away bed bugs as they travel from location to location, infecting areas as they travel. That's why everyone is at risk for getting bed bugs when visiting an infected area, and anyone who travels frequently and shares living and sleeping quarters where other people have previously slept has a higher risk of being bitten and or spreading a bed bug infestation.