Do I need a bed bug inspection?
More people are asking themselves this question every day... Why? Because the bed bug problem is growing - Fast! It is important to recognize the problem in the early stages and to do this you need a bed bug inspection!
The bed bug problem has spread outwards mainly from urban population centers to the suburbs and even into rural areas in most provinces in Canada. Ontario, in particular, has seen this happen particularly in the Toronto / GTA.
As the bedbugs continue to spread word is also spreading about the problem. Although the bed bug issue continues to be fraught with a significant social stigma, it is also true that more people are beginning to talk about it.
Let's talk a little about bedbugs signs and symptoms and how they can trigger the suspicion in the first place.
Bed bug feed on us by piercing our skin and ingesting our blood - much like a mosquito does. As the bed bug is feeding, it injects an anticoagulant and an analgesic. These two substances are what cause the extreme itching often associated with the bed bug bite itself. Usually the itchy bites are the first clue that there are bed bugs infesting your home.
Other signs of bed bugs consist of the fecal matter and cast skins left behind by the bed bugs as they go about feeding, growing and procreating.
At any rate, with the exponential growth of the bed bug problem taking place if you suspect that you may be exposed to this pest it is advisable to have a professional come in to do a bed bug inspection.
How is a bed bug inspection conducted?
There are two primary ways of conducting a bed bug inspection. A visual inspection and a K-9 bed bug inspection.
Visual Bed Bug Inspection
A visual bed bug inspection is completed by a professional pest control technician (preferably with significant bed bug experience) who will conduct a visual inspection. This type of inspection simply entails picking up mattresses and box springs, carefully inspecting the bed frames and adjacent furniture, baseboards, picture frames, drapes and other articles found in close proximity to sleeping areas. In addition to these places, a good visual inspection should include couches, lazy-boy type chairs and all places that significant time is spent by the home owner during periods of leisure.
The technician will be looking for visual clues that bed bugs are actively present in these areas. As stated above, fecal matter, bed bug eggs (hard to see by an untrained eye) and cast skins (the shed exoskeleton as the bed bug grows) may be present in any of these areas. Unfortunately, when this evidence is readily visible it usually means that the bed bug problem has been allowed to grow past the point of where you would hope to catch it. In other words, it's best to identify the problem before it's been allowed to get bad enough to see significant evidence that it exists.
Unfortunately, the visual inspection for bed bugs is not extremely reliable. Despite the best efforts of the technician conducting it, this type of inspection relies on the experience and knowledge of the inspector and, in the case of a brand new problem such as only having a couple of a few bed bugs, the evidence may be so well hidden that the technician may simply not be able to see it.
Which brings us to another type of bed bug inspection...
K-9 Bed Bug Inspection (yes, dogs are used to detect bed bugs, and yes it's very cool!)
A K-9 bed bug inspection is conducted by... you guessed it... DOGS! It's not so crazy. We know that dogs have been used for centuries to seek things out and in modern times dogs are trained to detect everything from explosives to drugs - with great success!
There exist highly trained dogs that can actually detect bed bugs! There are many companies that use these bed bug detection dogs and most train to a very high standard. Although nothing is 100%, a properly trained dog can detect even just one bed bug or even a bed bug egg.
Canine bed bug detection has its advantages. A properly trained bed bug dog can quickly and accurately detect if there are bed bugs in the home and show the handler where they are. This is called an 'alert'. If a bed bug dog 'alerts' to bed bugs the handler should endeavour to visually confirm the dog's alert.
This type of bed bug detection service is relatively inexpensive and can be quite successful. Often, the bed bug dog inspection is used to confirm that a bed bug treatment has been conducted successfully and many institutions such as hospitals use dogs to confirm that there are no bed bugs in their facility by having inspections conducted at regular intervals.
What type of bed bug inspection is right for me?
The answer depends on a number of things.
Visual Bed Bug Inspection
Some bed bug extermination companies offer 'free' visual bed bug inspection services. While this may seem advantageous to the consumer at first glance you should be aware that this type of arrangement does come with an inherent conflict of interest. Should you choose to go with this type of service ensure that the technician shows you physical evidence of the bed bug problem if possible. While the vast majority of operators are extremely honest and ethical, you should keep this potential conflict in mind. Some operators offer a small, insignificant fee for the initial inspection and will deduct that fee from any services they perform for you should evidence of bed bugs be found during the inspection. This is a legitimate offering that precludes any conflict of interest to the consumer. At any rate, if you have a visual inspection done for you, ensure that the technician shows you some evidence of bed bugs if possible.
Canine bed bug detection
Canine bed bug detection is most often used by people who:
- Are waking up with itchy 'bites' and can't figure out where they are coming from
- People who know they've been exposed to bed bugs (while on vacation, visiting a friend etc.) and want to confirm that they do not have them in their own home
- Those that have been treated for bed bugs and want to confirm that the treatment was successful
When looking at a canine bed bug detection company talk to them about certification, training and knowledge of the handler. (see more about this in my other articles).
Whichever way you decide to go when it comes to bed bug inspection ensure that you have one done the minute you suspect that you may have bed bugs. It is absolutely imperative that a new bed bug infestation be identified as soon as possible to ensure that the spread is kept to a minimum. Bed bugs spread quickly and can infest an entire home in a relatively short period of time. The spread can also include other friends and family members that may be exposed as you visit them and vise versa.
The moment you suspect you've come into contact with bed bugs - get an inspection! It very well may save you great expense and untold grief.