Nine-pound Nudie’s feet skitter across the concrete floor as she speeds by, keeping her tiny nose to the ground. She scurries around the perimeter of a bed, then hops on top.
“Find your B’s, find your B’s,” handler Jose “Pepe” Peruyero commands. Within seconds, she’s pawing furiously at a spot on the bed as if trying to dig through it.
She’s found her “B’s” — meaning bedbugs. She gets a handful of kibble, a hearty “Good girl!” from Peruyero and a kiss on her scruffy head.
They’ve worked together to gauge the accuracy of more than 17 termite-detecting dogs since 1998, but early next month will be the first time they’ve added bedbug-sniffing dogs like Nudie to the mix.
About 20 dogs will be tested for their termite- and bedbug-detecting accuracy during the Southeast Pest Management Conference May 6-9 on the UF campus. UF entomology graduate students run the tests.
Though the bed bug dogs are not a “silver bullet” for finding bed bugs, they can often find them where humans can’t easily do so:
“We’ve been working to try to make sure that there are quality dogs out there to detect termites, and now bedbugs,” said Phil Koehler, an entomology professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “Both those pests are very difficult to detect in structures.”For instance, he said, researchers have found as many as 15 bedbug nymphs in the slot of a drywall screw.
That’s the sort of stealth that makes bed bugs so hard to find. Humans need all the help we can get, so bring on the trained bed bug dogs, and bring on the tests of their efficacy.
Thanks to lmk for the tip!