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Bed Bug Information: Frequently Asked Questions

Learn More About Bed Bugs in NYC, NJ, PA, and CT

Wondering how to tell if you have bed bugs or how to treat bed bugs in your home or office? Let the experts at Bed Environmental answer all your bed bug detection and bed bug control questions. By the time you see one bed bug it may be too late— you may already have a bed bug infestation. Read through these important bed bug FAQs to be on the offense, not defense.

Bed Bug General

What is a bed bug?

Bed bugs are small, reddish brown, oval, wingless insects that reach about 1/4 inch in length with flat bodies. The bed bug is a parasite that feeds on the blood of humans and other animals. Yes, bed bugs can even make your pets miserable.

How do you get bed bugs?

While bed bugs became rare in the 1950s, they have been re-introduced into the US, particularly via international ports of entry. Bed bugs reproduce and spread quickly, traveling in clothing and baggage. A bed bug infestation can start almost anywhere: at home, a hotel, or even in public places such as buses, airports, or train stations. Because they travel frequently, bed bugs can thrive in any environment, even very clean ones. For example, bed bugs have been showing up in upscale hotels, resulting in lawsuits by guests who have suffered serious bites, itching, and skin rashes from their presence.

How do I know if I have bed bugs (symptoms of bites)?

Typically, skin bitten by bed bugs is reddish with small spots that look like mosquito bites or flea bites. Bed bugs don’t inject any kind of venom and aren’t believed to carry infectious microbes, however, they can induce their own saliva into the bites. While bed bugs feed, their saliva dulls pain, but can cause mild allergic reactions later on. The result can be mild to severe itching and vigorous scratching that can, in turn, cause infections. It’s easy to mistake bed bug bites for flea bites especially since, like fleas, a bed bug infestation will leave dark fecal spots on bed sheets or in their hiding places.

How do I get rid of bed bugs?

Getting rid of bed bugs is very difficult; you must act fast! While insecticides and other chemicals can be used, infected mattresses must be discarded afterwards. Bell Environmental Services in the New York Metro area, instead recommends Instant Freeze, a cutting-edge technology that uses no chemicals, meaning bed bugs can’t resist it. Plus you can use rooms immediately after they’ve been treated! InstantFreeze™ bed bug control leaves behind no residue and is completely safe for furniture, computers, and other sensitive home and office accessories.

Bed bug detection: Where are bed bugs found?

Bed bugs became rare in the US during the1950s due to the widespread usage of DDT and other toxic, non-specific insecticide treatments. They have been re-introduced into the US as a result of an increase in world travel and globalization. Their numbers have been consistently growing due to the difficulty of eliminating bed bugs. Their cryptic hiding nature and their growing resistance to most bed bug sprays and pesticides used today means bed bugs infestation is on the rise.

Bed bugs can thrive in any environment… even very clean ones. They are easily spread and can live anywhere in a home, hotel, or even in public places such as buses, airports, movie theaters, or train stations. Bed bugs are considered hitchhikers, stowing themselves away in handbags, computer bags, luggage, and parcels and even in the seams of clothing, making permanent bed bug control difficult.

Bed bug information: What are bite symptoms?

There is no standard reaction to bedbug bites. Recent studies have indicated that up to 40% of people do not react at all to these bites, with a large percentage of the non-reactors being found in elderly populations with suppressed immune systems. This means that unaided bed bug detection can be especially difficult when the victim can’t verify a bed bug infestation at all!

In the people that do react, the bed bug bites resemble those of other blood-feeding insects, such as mosquitoes, fleas, biting gnats, or mites. However, there is no classic identifying feature of a bed bug bite. Reactions can range from mild mosquito like bumps, to more intense hive like welts, depending on the strength of a person’s allergic reaction. The irritations can be seen immediately after being bitten and subside just as fast, or take a few days to emerge and last up to a few weeks. Secondary infections have been seen in people who react as a result of intense scratching.

Unlike mosquitoes and ticks, bed bugs are not known to transmit disease. However their skin casings, which they shed during development, have been known to trigger attacks in asthmatics. For this reason, prompt bed bug control is still important for people with respiratory problems or for anyone who isn’t comfortable sleeping with a bed bug infestation in their home or apartment!

Bed bug information: Can bed bugs live in my hair?

Again, bed bugs do not live on their hosts (see above). In very rare cases, we have seen many, many bed bugs crawling on a person – primarily on clothing with a concentration in pockets, cuffs, collars and seams, in wallets, inside a prosthetic leg, and yes, in rare cases, bed bugs crawling on hair. This scenario could only arise when the human host is immobile all of the time, unable to take care of routine personal hygiene, and unable to see or address a complete bed bug infestation. In these conditions, bed bugs inhabit all of the cracks and crevices and as they continue to multiply the populations are forced to live out in open areas in places where they are not normally found. Obviously, such scenarios require extremely thorough bed bug solutions.

Bed bug information: Do bed bugs jump from person to person?

Bed bugs are wingless insects; they do not fly or jump. To get around, they crawl from place to place, often into personal items when they are looking for a new safe hiding spot after being disturbed, or while they are foraging for food. While bed bugs can’t fly, they can move into your clothing or accessories easily; all the more reason for a thorough bed bug inspection!

Bed bug facts: Can bed bugs really go 1 year without feeding?

When a host is available, bed bugs will feed about once every week. If for whatever reason the hosts become unavailable, the bed bugs will eventually go into a dormant state in which they can survive, but not develop or reproduce. Adult bed bugs have been known to live for over 1 year without a blood meal in this state, though in our observations they will usually die off after several months. Juvenile bed bugs can live up to 3 months without ever taking a blood meal.

Sensing that there is no blood meal readily available to them, bed bugs will forage for one, searching for a new host with sensors that pick up on body heat and carbon dioxide that is the byproduct of our respiration. Their search for a blood meal can lead them into adjacent units and hallways of multi unit dwellings, enabling them to find food well before a full year has transpired. Because they’re so persistent, powerful bed bug control is the only way to be certain a bed bug infestation has been eliminated.

Bed bug information: Can bed bugs feed during the day

Bed bugs need their host to be still in order for them to feed. At night we become relatively immobile, reclining on our sofas and easy chairs while watching TV or sleeping in bed. It is believed that in this way our daily habits have conditioned bed bugs to feed mainly during the evening hours. However, if someone works during the evenings and is at home sleeping and lounging during the day, the bed bugs will adjust and feed during the daytime hours when a blood meal is available to them. The same goes for a bed bug infestation in the workplace: they can be conditioned to feed during 9 to 5 hours when employees are busy in their work stations.


Bed Bug Home and Office

How to tell if you have bed bugs in your home?

Bed bug detection isn’t easy, but there are signs: bed bugs leave behind fecal stains, egg cases, and shed skins on or near beds or in chairs or sofas where you relax. You can find them in drawers, behind pictures or wall paper, or hiding in just about any crack or crevice in any room. More than likely, you will need a professional bed bug inspection to confirm their presence. The most reliable method to date is the use of bed bug dogs, canines specially trained to sniff out bed bugs anywhere in any environment. Our K9 Force is 98% effective at bed bug detection!

You may need professional bed bug inspection services to be sure. The most reliable method of bed bug detection is the use of specially trained bed bug sniffing dogs. A trained bed bug dog is the most accurate ‘technology’ (95-98% effective) for detecting a low level bed bug infestation, versus humans who are only able to find the bugs 40% of the time. A low level bed bug infestation may be difficult to find because of the bed bugs’ small size and their behavior.

What do bed bugs look like? Newly hatched specimens are 1 millimeter in size (think the tip of ball point pen) and see-through. Their bodies are so translucent at this stage, that their first blood meals are visible through their exoskeleton, turning the abdominal cavity bright red! As they mature, these weekly blood meals turn their color to a reddish brown and they become similar in size and appearance to an apple seed, with a flat, oval, wingless shape measuring at most 1/4 of an inch.

Unlike ticks and other parasites which live on their host, bed bugs do not. When they are not feeding or looking for food, bed bugs will hide in cracks and crevices. Their flat bodies and small size enable them to wedge themselves between the seams of fabric, wood, plastic and metal. Despite urban myths that a bed bug infestation cannot occur in plastic or metal items, there is no design of furnishing or material that is resistant to bed bugs. Any surface that contains cracks and crevices can provide a harbor for them, making bed bug detection difficult.

A higher level bed bug infestation is more easily visible to the human eye not only because there are simply more bugs, but also because the fecal speckling and skin casings bed bugs produce accumulate and become more easily recognizable. This fecal speckling resembles ink spotting and is accompanied by skin casings that are shed during the bed bugs’ development, along with pearl colored, cylindrical egg capsules that are ¼ the size of a rice grain.

During a bed bug inspection, we look for these signs as well as live bed bugs in cracks and crevices. Start with the most obvious areas – places where you spend a lot of time immobile, such as your bed (mattress, box spring, frame, bed skirt and headboard) recliner, sofa and even the chair at your desk or computer. After examining these areas, you may wish to extend your bed bug inspection outward to adjacent furnishings, behind picture frames and base moldings. A flashlight and magnifying glass are helpful tools for bed bug detection.

You may need professional help to confirm a bed bug infestation— especially if it is a low level, recently introduced one. Do not hesitate to contact licensed bed bug companies to schedule a human or bed bug dog inspection should you suspect these parasites but are unable to locate any physical evidence.

How do I get rid of bed bugs in my home?

Whenever possible, it is recommended that bed bug control be performed by a licensed pest control operator that is skilled in bed bug elimination methods. Getting rid of bed bugs is a labor intensive process, the success of which relies upon a cooperative effort between the client and pest control operator. The pest control operator is responsible for educating the residential client on what type of pre-treatment preparations are necessary prior to treatment and the residential client must be responsible for seeing that these preparations are thoroughly performed.

Quality bed bug solutions include a detailed, thorough bed bug control treatment in which every crack and crevice in the area is serviced. Bed bug treatments should not rely upon heavy, general pesticide applications because the insects’ immunity to these bed bug sprays renders the residual potency of these materials insignificant. The only guaranteed bed bug elimination method is an on-contact kill that is preferably performed with a physical means of elimination such as freezing bed bugs with liquid carbon dioxide vs. chemically laden bed bug sprays. It is recommended that a minimum of 2 treatments be performed approximately 2-3 weeks apart due to the biology of the bed bug and their cryptic nature.

Bed bug prevention: How can I prevent bringing bed bugs into my home?

There is no 100% effective way of preventing bed bugs from finding their way into your home. There are many ways bed bugs can be introduced into to any building. They can hitchhike with occasional guests or frequent visitors – such as a babysitter, cleaning person, home healthcare provider etc. They can be picked up in public places like your doctor’s office, public transportation, movie theater, at a hotel or even your gym, and make their way home in your personal items, luggage, etc. Your child can bring a bed bug infestation home from camp or school. If you live in a multi unit dwelling, they can crawl into your apartment from an infested adjacent unit – not just through the wall voids or electrical conduit as frequently discussed, but right under the front door!

Rather than worrying about the possibility of bed bugs entering your domain, spend your efforts making a plan of what you will do should you discover them. Is a full-scale bed bug inspection in order? You may need to budget for bed bug control, should you find yourself needing to treat an issue.

Early detection is the key to swift bed bug elimination:

  • Educate yourself on how to identify bed bugs and where to look for them.
  • Perform a routine bed bug inspection of your bed and sofa area when changing your sheets and cleaning your home.
  • Install bed bug proof mattress/box spring encasements (available at http://www.bellenvironmentalstore.com/ ) to help protect your mattress and box spring, as well to as facilitate early detection.
  • Climb Up Interceptors (available at http://www.bellenvironmentalstore.com/ ) are effective bed bug detection products which can be installed under the legs of furnishings, and are very effective at revealing a low level bed bug infestation.
  • Be a smart traveler. Inspect hotel rooms for signs of bed bug activity before settling in. Be sure to immediately launder clothing after traveling, washing on the hot cycle and/or dry items on high heat for 15-20 minutes or medium/low heat for entire cycle. (It is not necessary to wash clothes to ensure they are bed bug free; the heat of the dryer is often more effective than washing.) Inspect all luggage for bed bugs upon returning. Any soft, pliable luggage can be placed in the dryer.
  • Be a smart consumer. Launder/dry any second-hand clothing before bringing into your home. Second hand furniture must also be thoroughly inspected for signs of bed bugs.
  • If you live in a rental or coop building, contact management, even prior to an issue to see that a proper bed bug control protocol is in place for your building.
  • If you suspect a bed bug infestation act swiftly, contacting a professional bed bug control company for a human or canine bed bug inspection if necessary. Do not dispose of or move any items suspected to contain bed bugs, unless they are sealed in plastic or determined to be bed bug free— either through thorough inspection, laundering or bed bug elimination measures.

Bed bug information: Can bed bugs live on my pet?

Bed bugs do not live on their hosts, unlike many other parasitic insects. They do not imbed their mouthparts into the skin like ticks, do not have grasping claws like lice, and do not bore into the skin like scabies. Bed bugs live off of their hosts in safe places of harborage, mainly cracks and crevices within furnishings and other items with small hiding places, making bed bug detection difficult. Bed bugs emerge approximately once a week (7-10 days) to feed for a period of approximately 3-10 minutes, biting up to 3 times during a feeding session, and then retreat back into their hiding spots.

Though bed bugs are capable of feeding on other warm blooded animals, humans are their preferred hosts. In cases of a low to moderate bed bug infestation level, it is unlikely that they will be feeding on a pet when humans are present in the environment. In addition, many domestic pets are usually given a flea and tick preventative application such as Frontline, which may act as a bed bug repellent as well.

How can I prevent bed bugs in the workplace?

Limit what you bring to work: people often keep gym clothes, multiple pairs of shoes and unnecessary items at their desks or in lockers. The less you bring to work, the fewer opportunities bed bugs have to hitch a ride into your office. This approach to preventing bed bugs helps protect the work environment as well. When employees bring less stuff to the office, there’s less of a chance bed bugs can be brought into the workplace by an employee that has a bed bug infestation at home.

Any items you wish to bring to work can be safely stored in a sealed plastic bag – Ziploc makes large storage bags that measure approx 3ftx2ft – ( available at http://www.bellenvironmentalstore.com/ ) or a clear storage bin that has a sealable lid. Sealed plastic bags are perfect for use in employee lockers.


Bed Bug Dog Inspection

Why use a bed bug dog for bed bug inspection?

Accurate, efficient, and quick: a trained bed bug dog is 250% better than a person is at discovering a low level bed bug infestation. According to university studies, bed bug sniffing dogs are 98% accurate at bed bug detection (able to detect adults and eggs) whereas human inspectors are only 30-40% accurate in discovering bed bugs when performing visual bed bug inspections when low level infestations are present. Dogs can smell bed bugs in locations that people cannot inspect, such as those hidden inside cracks, crevices, and wall voids. A bed bug dog can pinpoint bed bugs in a matter of minutes that a person might not be able to find after hours of bed bug inspection.

Cost Effective: Using a bed bug dog is a quicker way to find a problem than a human bed bug inspection. Moreover, dogs can accurately determine if and where there are problems at an earlier stage of bed bug infestation than people can easily detect. By identifying a problem earlier, a bed bug sniffing dog ensures that fewer people will be victims of bed bugs, and these insects can be eliminated before the problem spreads through a home, office, and multi-unit building. In contrast, an undetected low level bed bug infestation can grow exponentially if not treated. Two breeding bed bugs can quickly multiply, leading to 22 bed bugs and 130 eggs in 16 days; 162 bed bugs and 200 eggs in 31 days; and 302 bed bugs and 1040 eggs in 45 days.

Focused Treatment: A bed bug dog can isolate the problem areas. It is be more appropriate and less costly to focus on key areas that are infested or neighboring the affected areas, rather than spending money and unnecessary efforts on building-wide bed bug control.

Can a bed bug dog really find these pests?

Yes! Here’s Why:

The Science of a Canine’s Nose

The source of a dog’s incredible sense of smell is its nasal cavity. This cavity is rich with blood vessels and nerve endings that connect to a highly developed olfactory center in the brain. Olfaction or the act or process of smelling, is a dog’s primary special sense. A dog’s sense of smell is said to be a thousand times more sensitive than that of humans. In fact, a dog has more than 220 million olfactory receptors in its nose, while humans have only 5 million. Moreover, a dog’s scent organ (inside its nose) is about four times larger than that of a human.

The biology and training of each bed bug dog allows it to perform bed bug detection with up to 98% accuracy from minute particles of scent and to translate it into action.

An example illustrates the difference between a human nose and a dog nose: if both species walked into a bakery, the person will smell the bread baking; a dog will smell the flour, yeast, butter, salt, shortening, sugar and water separately!

Bed Bug Sniffing Dogs Receive Training and Have Careers To Maximize These Skills

Canines have many different careers as working dogs. Dogs’ noses are used to detect narcotics, bombs, fire accelerants, escaped convicts, missing people, disaster victims, and even mold and insects. K-9 teams are employed at airports, military bases, police departments, fire departments, border control points, and as parts of search and rescue teams. Dogs have even been trained to detect cancer (including colon and lung cancer) and health problems affiliated with diabetes.

Canines are employed in the pest control industry for bed bug detection and termite detection.

Each of Bell Environmental’s bed bug sniffing dogs graduated from top canine academies with master trainers who specifically taught them to alert to live bed bugs and their eggs. Our canines are trained for hundreds of hours in bed bug detection. The handlers also attend these canine academies and complete intensive training before entering the field with their bed bug dog counterparts. The handling team receives certification before entering the field.

These certifications are actively maintained by working with master trainers. Our bed bug dog handlers are also senior inspectors who understand beg bugs’ biology and proclivity to hide.

Our dogs each have only one handler, and it is the bed bug dog handling team that is certified together.

How do canines’ bed bug detection skills compare with other methods?

No bed bug detection system is 100% accurate for finding a low-level bed bug infestation. Specially trained dogs are the best tool that the bed bug control industry has to detect them. A bed bug sniffing dog is proven to be 95-98% accurate in university studies, which is far higher than all other technologies and bed bug detection methods on the market. To a bed bug dog, scent is like a 3-dimensional odor image. An experienced inspector can search a room for hours with a flashlight and magnifying glass for signs of bed bugs the size of apple seeds and the width of a credit card without finding what a trained bed bug dog can detect within minutes.

How accurate is a dog’s nose?

Master Trainer Bill Whitstine of the Florida Canine Academy comments on a dog’s sense of smell:

  • From a single drop of urine, the sniffing dog learns the marking animal’s sex, diet, health, emotional state, and even whether it’s dominant or submissive, friend or foe.
  • Tracking dogs follow a biochemical trail of dead skin cells, sweat, odor molecules, and gasses.
  • For dogs, a scent article is like a three-dimensional “odor image” – much more detailed than a photograph is for a person.
  • Dogs can track a scent through snow, air, mud, water, and even ash.

An Auburn University report spells out the following strengths about the dogs’ scent detection abilities:

  • Sensitivity: The dog’s limit of detection (absolute threshold) has been determined for four compounds to documented limits of olfactory detection for the dog range from tens of parts per billion to 500 parts per trillion.
  • Odor Discrimination: Dogs’ ability to discriminate among target and non-target odors is even more impressive than their sensitivity. They were able to discriminate the target odor even when the non-target odor was orders of magnitude higher in concentration (and overwhelming to humans).
  • Odor Signatures: When being trained to detect a substance, dogs learn to recognize a substance in terms of its one or two most abundant vapor constituents.
  • Multiple Odor Discriminations: Dogs can easily learn as many as ten odor discriminations without difficulty.

I’ve seen bed bugs in my home; do I need Roscoe the bed bug dog to inspect?

If you’re a typical apartment dweller and have seen bed bugs, droppings, cast skins, eggs or other signs of bed bugs, you don’t need a bed bug dog to perform a bed bug inspection. The most appropriate use of the bed bug dog is to determine if there are bed bugs in your location, and if so, where. For people who know they have a bed bug control problem, it is better to spend your money on bed bug solutions to eliminate a known problem. We recommend treating every room in an apartment for the greatest likelihood of eliminating bed bugs. If you are a consumer with a large home or a professional in a large office building who has found evidence of a bed bug infestation, one course of action is to have a canine inspection to narrow the treatment area rather than treating an entire location.

What do you have to do to get ready for an inspection?

While almost no preparation by the customer is necessary, please do respect the protocols that our company and a handler may require, such as removing pets and excess clutter from the bed bug inspection area. The handler will assess the rooms that will be inspected. It is important that the bed bug dog and handler can maneuver freely and work uninterrupted while inspecting. In addition, canine teams should not be exposed to pesticides or other chemicals which are present in a room, as it is dangerous for the animals. It is important to inform us in advance if and when any chemicals have been used in your location.

How does a bed bug dog inspection work?

The handler will make the bed bug sniffing dog thoroughly inspect the suspected areas and the rooms. During each job the handlers keep the dogs moving, inspecting different locations and making continual progress throughout a customer site to ensure complete bed bug detection.

When a bed bug dog alerts, it receives a treat and/or positive reinforcement from his handler. This reward system is standard protocol for working dogs. Other career canines (e.g., drug sniffing, arson, bomb, termite, truffle, and search and rescue dogs) are also rewarded with food, toys and other positive motivations. All handlers are certified, skilled, and practiced in recognizing body language cues specific to their dog which accompanies a legitimate positive alert.

We ask clients to reserve questions for the handler about his findings until the bed bug inspection is completed. Please note that a bed bug dog is not a machine, it may require rest, water, or “bathroom” breaks during a particularly long bed bug inspection of an environment like a large corporate office.

How long do handlers look for signs of bed bugs after a dog has alerted to them?

When a bed bug dog makes a positive alert during an inspection, we will have the dog re-inspect the area to make sure that he alerts to the same place both times.

It is not necessary to have the bed bug sniffing dog check the area over and over again, as repeated reinspections of the same area could cause the dogs to become bored or distracted.

All of our bed bug dog handlers make a strong effort to verify or find physical evidence when a canine has a positive alert. The human inspectors seek out live or dead insects, cast skins, eggs, or fecal spotting in the area around where a dog alerts.

There is no minimum or maximum amount of time one should spend searching for bed bugs in an apartment. Dr. Austin Frishman, a nationally renowned entomologist, advises that an inspector spend only 5-10 minutes looking for signs of bed bugs; after that a person could spend hours looking with a flashlight and magnifying glass and not find them. It is possible that in a low level bed bug infestation a human inspector won’t find anything because of the small size of bed bugs and the bugs’ power of concealment. Dr. Michael Potter, a professor from the University of Kentucky and one the foremost experts on bed bug control, notes that bed bugs concealed deep in cracks and crevices, particularly those hidden inside a box spring or sofa, can be hard for an inspector to locate.

The search for a bed bug can be similar to trying to find a moving needle in a haystack. A newly hatched bed bug is 1mm in size (the size of the tip of a ball point pen) and translucent. The eggs are also 1mm in size and have a pearly translucent appearance. A non-engorged bed bug is as thin as a fingernail. Their small size enables them to hide deep in cracks and crevices, on any item. To illustrate, there are 7 places for bed bugs to hide on 1 wooden hanger! Bed bug fecal droppings are equivalent in size to an ink dot. Other variables such the disparate furnishings of customers’ homes affect the ability to find evidence during a bed bug inspection.

On big jobs of numerous apartments or areas with large square footage, we bring a separate inspector to follow each bed bug dog handling team whose job is to record alerts and to inspect for physical evidence.

What if your dogs alert to bed bugs but there is no physical evidence?

At the end of the inspection, the handler will provide the customer with a service ticket with a description of the bed bug dog’s findings, or lack thereof. If the bed bug sniffing dog indicates that there are bed bugs in this location and physical evidence is discovered, the handler will recommend a minimum two-phase bed bug control program to eliminate your problem. Should the dog alert to bed bugs and no physical evidence be found, Bell Environmental will make note on the service ticket that the alert was unverified. It is Bell’s belief that verification could not occur due to the bed bug’s power of concealment. In this case it is ultimately the client’s decision whether to proceed to the recommended 2-phase treatment plan, or wait for physical signs of bed bugs to appear.

If there is a question about the findings, we will bring in a second bed bug inspection team at the client’s request to inspect the apartment without letting the second bed bug dog team know that it is a re-inspection or any of the prior results. On certain occasions we have even brought in a third canine team to accommodate clients.

Once again, the decision of whether to treat or not is always left to the customer. Bell Environmental provides each customer with the bed bug dog’s findings, and its then his/her decision to hire us or other bed bug companies for treatment, or not to act on the findings at that time or at all.

It is also possible that the victims of bed bugs cannot recognize that they have a problem even after it has been pointed out. Approximately 30% of people do not have a reaction to bed bug bites. Others may have only small marks from being bitten and not the large welts commonly pictured, so they may not attribute these marks to bed bug bites. One of our company’s entomologists feeds bed bugs on his skin without any signs!

Your bed bug control company was hired by our management to inspect the entire apartment and your canines alerted to my unit but Bell couldn’t find physical evidence – Do I have to have treatment?

Bell Environmental has been contracted by the boards and management companies to perform apartment bed bug inspection services, many times after there have been known bed bug infestations in the building. If there are positive alerts from our dogs, we report the results to the board/management. It is up to the board/management whether or not to treat, or have the owner treat, the apartment for bed bugs. We follow the protocol set by the board/management of a building and the choice to have treatment or not in a particular unit is not our company’s decision under any circumstance. We noted that the customer has the opportunity for a reinspection from another canine bed bug inspection team, and the customer can work with the board/management as to the best course of action. Again, we view the decision to get treatment immediately, later, or not at all as the customer’s decision, not our company’s.

How long does a bed bug’s dog findings hold up?

A bed bug dog provides a snapshot of the location of bed bugs at the moment of the bed bug inspection. The location of bed bugs on a particular day may not be the same as on the following day. As a result, if there are findings of bed bugs in your location, it is best to pursue bed bug solutions shortly thereafter. Insects are living beings that constantly move and multiply. Moreover, bed bugs’ biological nature encourages their spread. If there is a significant delay after a dog-based bed bug inspection, such as weeks or months before getting treatment from a bed bug control company, the company certainly cannot rely on the accuracy of the snapshot that the bed bug sniffing dog provided. The problem will likely be worse, and a treatment may need to be applied across a wider area of your location and/or take additional visits to ensure a greater chance of successful bed bug elimination.

Do I need to treat my whole apartment or house or can I only treat where the dog alerts?

Bell Environmental generally recommends that all of the rooms in the customer’s location receive bed bug control treatment. This advice is consistent with industry and public health practices, among them the New York City Bed Bug Advisory Board which states that bed bug “Control efforts should not be limited to the room(s) in which infestation was confirmed, but should extend to all rooms in the home, apartment, condo etc.”. While the bed bug dog provides an accurate snapshot of where the bed bugs are at the time of inspection, these bugs may travel and spread to other rooms by the time treatment begins. If a customer elects to only treat select locations, the customer increases the risks that bed bugs will remain on the premises and will not be eliminated even after a thorough localized treatment.

How long after a bed bug treatment can a dog come to reinspect?

A normal bed bug control program consists of at least two treatments 2-3 weeks apart. Some residual substances such as dust and other non repellent materials may be applied in voids and cracks and crevices to provide ongoing protection and bed bug elimination for up to 4-6 weeks after the last treatment. After this 4-6 week period it may be appropriate and possible to bring canines to a location for another bed bug inspection.

We warn customers that people are more likely to gain exposure to bed bugs through human behavior than through the walls of their buildings. In the present bed bug epidemic, many people’s encounters with bed bugs are the result of bad luck. However, if a bed bug victim’s routine behavior has not changed or examined for a link to their current bed bug infestation—where they go, whom they vist, who visits them—then they are likely to re-infest themselves. No lingering residual bed bug spray inside wall voids will protect you from this type of contact with bed bugs. If you live in a multi-unit building which has bed bug control issues, there is always a possibility that they may find their way back into your unit from the hall or from a neighboring apartment. Early bed bug detection is the best method of proactive bed bug control.


Bed Bug Canine Team

Are your dogs certified by any type of associations?

All bed bug dog teams hold current WDDO (World Dog Detector Organization) certification. WDDO is a not-for-profit organization which certifies scent detection teams working in the law enforcement, fire fighting, pest control and mold detection fields. Our dogs each only have one handler, and it is the handling team together that holds current WDDO certification.

How does Bell Environmental bed bug control maintain its canines?

Each Bell Environmental bed bug dog has been trained to pinpoint bed bugs where they’re located. Our dogs indicate with a passive alert: they nod and point when they find live bed bugs or eggs. The bed bug dogs are not trained to bark or scratch as a form of alerting for bed bugs. Do not be fooled by people who say “wherever the dog barks there must be a bed bug infestation.” The dogs will alert to the areas where the bugs tend to live and hide— the bed, the furniture, wall outlets, and carpet seams. Many times the bed bug dog will pinpoint precisely where the bed bugs are hiding, however due to air currents carrying scent, the indication may be within a four foot radius of where the bug or egg is.

Bell Environmental’s canines are trained regularly, in addition to scheduled bed bug inspections. The trainers also perform physical conditioning with the dogs and maintain their health and well-being. Our bed bug dog detectives are working dogs and have a residence at our office; they do not go home with our handlers. Our handlers and trainers are committed to train and work the dogs daily.

Bell Environmental’s bed bug sniffing dog see the hunt for bed bugs as a game; they enjoy the process and take pride in their jobs at bed bug inspection. Bell’s handlers vary the training, including daily physical conditioning in parks and dog runs and changes to the locations inspected and the placements of hidden live bugs and eggs. We regularly train outside of scheduled bed bug inspection routines against two types of double blind hides: a third party puts out bed bugs, where neither the handler/dog knows where the hides are located, and a third party has the bed bug dog team inspect a room without any hidden bugs without the canine team knowing that there aren’t bed bugs present in the room. Control insects such as dermestid beetles, and common items the dogs will encounter such human food and rodent scents are also included. We perform this training to ensure that our bed bug sniffing dogs do not alert to bed bugs when they are not present (false positives).

Our canine teams also train in areas where there are distractions (such as a Petco) to make sure our bed bug dog sniffers do not alert to pet food and can work through encounters with other animals.

Bell Environmental’s dogs are also socialized with people and other dogs. Our canines also obey basic commands.

Does a bed bug dog alert to other insects?

On our team, every bed bug dog has been trained to alert only to live bed bugs and their eggs, not to other insects. As described above, we frequently use other insects and scents (including carpet {dermestid} beetles, lady bugs, cockroaches, food and rodent scents) as controls in our training, as they are commonly found in residences and offices. Our dogs do not alert to these bugs or other scents.

What does Bell do to ensure that its bed bug sniffing dogs remain accurate?

We see and value our canines’ success when our teams pinpoint the bugs’ locations and find evidence at client sites during a bed bug inspection. We very frequently find evidence precisely where the dogs alerted, and track and record whether or not physical evidence was found for every customer.

The only true measure of a bed bug dog’s accuracy is in a controlled training environment. That is why it is important that we regularly train outside of client bed bug inspection jobs. We keep detailed training logs of these inspections.

Be assured that we would never use a bed bug dog that didn’t meet our standards. We once had a canine whose accuracy and behavior in controlled training precluded us from ever placing the bed bug sniffing dog in the field to inspect client sites.

All teams hold current WDDO (World Dog Detector Organization) certification. These certifications are actively maintained by working with master trainers.

Who are your bed bug dog handlers?

Our dogs and handler teams have received certification and training from the industry’s canine academies. These certifications are actively maintained and are kept current. The bed bug dog handlers are also senior inspectors who are experts in bed bug detection and bed bug physiology. Our inspectors are also well-versed in the thorough bed bug control methods necessary to eliminate these pests.

Where have Bell Environmental’s bed bug dogs been featured?

Bell Environmental’s canine bed bug inspection teams have been featured on Animal Planet’s “Monsters Inside Me” series, in the New York Times, Newark Star-Ledger, on ABC’s Good Morning America, the CBS Early Show, Fox Business Network, News12 NJ, Cablevision’s Neighborhood Journal, and Telemundo 47.

Roscoe is the star of a videogame for the iPhone, “Roscoe the Bed Bug Dog” in which the player has to seek out hidden bed bugs, then freeze them. Roscoe the bed bug sniffing dog is also featured in the smart phone application “Roscoe’s Tips” offering advice on how to inspect a hotel room and prevent exposure to bed bugs. The application is available for the iPhone, Blackberry, and Android phones as well as on web browsers and a downloadable travel card.

Roscoe has appeared in several television commercials for Bell Environmental bed bug control that run in the New York Metro Area. Roscoe, his handler, and his colleagues are frequently recognized and stopped on the streets of New York City. Roscoe’s face is proudly featured on Bell’s bed bug inspection vehicles; he has his own Facebook page, too!

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld also referenced our beagle Roscoe during a Mets game when he was in the broadcast booth.

Can I ask questions to Bell Environmental’s bed bug dog teams?

Roscoe the bed bug sniffing dog, along with his fellow canines and his inspectors, answers customers’ and fans’ questions on bed bugs, dogs, and other topics. Become a fan of Roscoe’s Facebook page (BedBugDogRoscoe), or a follower on Twitter (RoscoeBedBugDog).


Bed Bug Pricing

What are the costs and prices of your bed bug services?

The pricing for Bell Environmental bed bug control services depend on the customer’s situation. We provide onsite inspections and evaluations for all customers before providing a price that reflects the work involved to solve your bed bug problems. The rates for bed bug elimination services by Bell Environmental and our competition are several hundred dollars per living area or bedroom per treatment for thorough physical treatments with or without a chemical complement. The pest control industry and government officials recommend at least two treatments for bed bug issues and that an entire unit be treated if an apartment is infested. Bell Environmental recommends a MINIMUM 2-phase treatment program consisting of the initial and (a) follow up detailed, crack and crevice treatment(s) because of the biology of these insects. For the overwhelming majority of our customers, two treatments are enough to solve their bed bug issues, but we are upfront when customers have worse problems and more treatments may be necessary

Why do you price bed bug services this way?

Bed Bug treatment services are very different than is commonly offered or anticipated by customers for pest control. Bed Bug treatments focus on living areas instead of eating areas or places that have water. A quality bed bug treatment is labor intensive: a technician is not in and out of a room after quickly spraying pesticides on the base moldings. To eliminate bed bugs it is best to treat an entire residence or location. Bed bugs are best eliminated by physical means, not through chemicals or pesticides. Chemicals should not be the primary treatment method to solve this pest issue. There are no effective baits against bed bugs. Treatment is not performed immediately after a customer contacts us, it is important to prepare the area before bed bug control services are performed.

Bed bugs are eliminated through a detailed crack and crevice treatment. The time involved in a bed bug treatment is 1-2 man hours per room. For example, in a bedroom our technicians need to treat the bed (including mattress, box spring, bed frame (after it has been dismantled), and headboard), around and inside nightstands, the front and backs of pictures and mirrors hanging on the walls, the dressers each of the drawers, curtains, electronics, where the seam of the carpet meets the wall, among other places. It is necessary to provide multiple treatments per bed bug incident because of the biology of these insects.

Why are Bell Environmental’s bed bug services cost-effective?

Bed bug victims often contact us for service after they’ve tried other solutions that didn’t work. They state that they’ve wasted time and money on do it yourself solutions or competitors’ services that didn’t work or have even made problems worse. They’ve also thrown away furniture that they’ve had to replace, but the bugs didn’t go away. They have also suffered physically and psychologically from their infestations.

Bell Environmental’s bed bug solutions are successful and cost-effective in contrast to conventional extermination approaches that just don’t work. Our methods solve problems – so customers don’t waste their money with pest control companies that are not thorough or have methods that aren’t safe, effective, or thorough enough to treat everywhere bed bugs hide including furniture, artwork, and electronics. Bell Environmental’s InstantFreeze program is very cost-effective because customers do not have to throw out or replace infested furniture and electronics. We can safely treat all of these items with InstantFreeze.

Please contact us as soon as you suspect a bed bug problem, rather than wasting your time and money on ineffective treatments.

Why are Bell Environmental’s services superior with greater success rates than other exterminators?

Our Team

You wouldn’t send a kid with a garden hose to put out a five alarm fire, so when you get hit by bed bugs call in the professionals at Bell Environmental (as our commercial says!) Be careful when choosing a bed bug exterminator. Most pest control companies are not prepared to do the labor intensive work and apply the multiple treatments necessary to get rid of bed bugs. Often exterminators have to squeeze bed bug treatments into their regular pest control routes.

There is a huge difference by working with Bell Environmental:

  • We have a 50 year track record providing high quality pest control solutions.
  • We have two entomologists and four field supervisors on staff who closely supervise our teams.
  • We have a dedicated bed bug division.
  • Our technicians are all highly trained and thorough in the use of our InstantFreeze technology.
  • Our whole team is very experienced and skilled because our company does so much detailed bed bug work and we apply that experience to solve your problems.
  • We schedule the time necessary for our teams to provide thorough bed bug treatments.

Our Technology

The most effective treatments to eliminate bed bugs in your home and office are thorough, labor-intensive treatments using physical means, primarily extreme hot and cold temperatures. Bell Environmental uses the carbon dioxide freezing method for our detailed crack and crevice treatments. CO2 freezing is a superior and more thorough solution than steam. Our InstantFreeze technology has equivalent effects to steam and superior range when treating bed bugs. Carbon Dioxide freezing is a contact kill that hits the bugs and their eggs at -108F, and is dry, leaving no residue or moisture. We use InstantFreeze to provide safe and thorough crack and crevice treatments that solve customers’ problems. InstantFreeze won’t damage furnishings, computers, electronic equipment, or artwork.

While steam is non-toxic and can be effective, steam treatments are severely limited in a number of ways that our freezing method is not. Steam heat applies scalding water vapor directly to the bed bug, essentially steaming them to death. Since only water vapor is used, steam also poses a major problem: steam heat can damage anything that’s sensitive to either high temperatures or excessive moisture, like electronics, decorations, furniture, etc. Bed bugs occupy the cracks and crevices of electronics (clock radios, televisions, computers, etc.) that are in affected rooms and these items need to be treated as part of bed bug control. If steam is used to treat computers and electronics, it will damage them. Certain furniture may also be damaged or stained by the use of steam. Alternatively the pest control companies using steam do not treat these items, so their treatments are not nearly as thorough and the likelihood of eliminating bed bugs is much lower than Bell Environmental’s InstantFreeze.

Our Scale

Bell Environmental has dozens of carbon dioxide freezing machines and hundreds of carbon dioxide tanks to perform complete bed bug treatments of all affected areas vs. competitors’ halfway solutions and spot treatments.

Contact us online or call us today at 877-376-1775 for bed bug inspection and bed bug elimination.