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Q&A: Canine Bed Bug Locators

by Tina Ugas | Nov 29, 2010 12:00 am

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Posted to: Derby, Q&A

PHOTO: TINA UGASDid you know bed bugs smell like almonds?

And they hide behind picture frames.

But don’t worry — Derby’s Bill Steeves and his bug-sniffing-dog Gracie know how to find them.

Steeves trained Gracie to locate bed bugs for his wife’s business, Canine Bug Locators.

He recently met with the Valley Independent Sentinel to talk about the trade and the influx of bed bugs in the U.S.

Valley Indy:  How many dogs  do you have?  
Steeves: One here and one in Long Island at my wife’s sister’s house.  Actually, it’s my wife’s business, but I help train the dogs or assist sometimes. I have also have another dog but this one is the only one that works. The other dog is older.
 
Valley Indy:  What is your dog’s name and how old is she? 

Steeves:  Gracie. She is 3 years-old. They don’t like to train a dog until it is 1.  I had her trained to find bed bugs in Tampa, Florida. She was trained at Florida Canine Academy.   

Valley Indy:  What kind of dog is she?    

Steeves:  King Charles Cavalier. They are British dogs. Nancy Reagan used to have one and kings and queens had them for years as lap dogs.    

Valley Indy:  How do you continue to train the dog to detect bed bugs?  

Steeves:  I train her two to three times a day. I buy this (he points to bed bugs in a jar shaped like a salt and paper shaker) and I hide them in the house and my dog has to find them.  

Valley Indy:  How do you get the dog to find them?   

Steeves:  She smells for them. If you could smell them, they would smell like almonds.  

Valley Indy:  How do you know that? 

Steeves: The entomologist told me. 

Valley Indy: Who is that?  

Steeves:  They study bugs. I buy the bugs from entomologist Louis Sorkin in New York.  

Valley Indy: Do you give Gracie a reward when she finds them?  

PHOTO: Tina UgasSteeves:  Yes. I give her a reward when she finds them. She sits and points with her nose to show me where they are. 

Valley Indy:  What is her reward?  

Steeves:  Just dog food. I don’t want her to get fat. 

Valley Indy:  What type of calls do you get?  

Steeves:  We get hotels, assisted living, apartment complexes, condominiums, apartments and homes.  I am starting to get phone calls from movie theatres. I do want to say that it is good to be precautious but not paranoid or phobic. Bed bugs are not poisonous.
 
Valley Indy:  Where do you find bed bugs?  

Steeves: In the bed, in your night stand, behind pictures — where ever they feel safe for breeding and laying eggs. 

Valley Indy:  How much do you charge for a service like this? 

Steeves:  It depends on whether we are doing a hotel or just a room.  A whole hotel is six to ten dollars a room.  A home is $275 to $375 in Connecticut but more for out of state because I charge for travel. 

Valley Indy:  Tell me about the sudden increase in bed bugs?  

Steeves:  In the major cities it has increased by over 500 percent.   

Valley Indy:  What’s causing it?  

Steeves:  People transporting. These bugs are global travelers. They are coming from Europe and Asia.  They are traveling on transportation — trains, plains and in suitcases.  

Valley Indy:  Is it true that there are bed bugs on the train in New York City?  

Steeves:  Well, I haven’t found any. Any public transportation, it is possible to have them. I never looked for them on the train and I take her (the dog) on the train to Manhattan. 

PHOTO: Tina UgasValley Indy: What caused the increase in bed bugs? Also do animals carry bed bugs? 

Steeves: Not so much.  They are looking for humans.  We had a big infestation in the 30’s and 40’s.  Huge, real bad. They got rid of them all because of DDTDDT was banned and now they are back with a vengeance.  A lot of the chemicals they are using now the bugs are immune to.  

Valley Indy:  How do you pick a hotel to avoid bed bugs? 

Steeves:  Go to Bed Bug Registry.  You can name a hotel and it will come up if there have been any complaints. 

Valley Indy: What’s the most effective way to get rid of bed bugs? 

Steeves:  Thermal heat.  They come in with heaters and it is expensive.  You can’t wash them away. They are big heaters they bring into rooms and turn up to 135 to 145 degrees for many hours.  This dehydrates the bugs and eggs or you can freeze them but the cold has to be put right on them.  Same thing with steam but with thermal heat it gets into everything.   

Get more information about Canine Bed Bug Locators, LLC at www.bedbuglocators.com and by e-mailing info@bedbuglocators.com  Bill and his wife Connie can be reached at 203-556-5982 or 877-281-8221. 

They can be called Monday through Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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posted by: Gary B on November 30, 2010  1:20pm

You need to read the article printed two weeks ago by the NY Times “when a Bed Bug Find Is a Dog’s Main Meal Ticket.” This is a food rewarded dog. The complaint in the article is that food rewarded dogs are generating countless numbers of false positives and false negatives costing the client unnecessary expense.

Moreover, this is a King Charles. The breed King Charles was never bred for scent detection. You will never see a King Charles ever used by law enforcement for drug detection or for finding missing persons.

The scent detection task for finding bed bugs is the same scent detection task as that used for finding drugs.

Wrong breed of dog, wrong type of training. Keep your money.

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