In an article today entitled “Hard-worker sniffs out bedbugs,” from the Taranaki Daily News (New Zealand), Sharon Marris writes about bed bug dog Joni who works with Pro-Tek Systems owner John Morley in New Zealand.

We’re familiar with bed bug dogs, here at Bedbugger, but it is interesting to read of the situation in NZ.

“She’s not big, she’s clean and she’s a clever dog,” Mr Morley said of the three-year-old. “She can get into little places and sniff inside mattresses.”

Well, I bet she’s less clean when she comes out of some of those mattresses.

Yesterday Joni worked through 20 rooms and even detected bedbugs that were behind a headboard fixed to the wall.

When she finds something, she will tap at it with her paw before Mr Morley asks her to check again with her nose. After bedbugs are found, each surface of the room can be treated with steam within a day whereas chemical treatments could see a room shut off for many days. Mr Morley says the combination of Joni and steam produces a 98 per cent success rate. Manual treatments have a 20 per cent success rate.

I found this interesting, and I’d like to hear more about companies working with a combination of dogs and steam. What it sounds like Morley is describing is a situation in which the dog pinpoints the exact location of bed bugs (or eggs, which the article tells us she can also detect), and then that area is carefully steamed (I assume with a dry steam machine). Steaming that pinpoints a specific area does seem both more reliable and easier than steaming the whole area, hoping to strike bed bug gold.

I’d also like to know what that 98% success rate represents: I assume it means 98% of cases need not be serviced twice. (Or does it mean most cases eliminate 98% of their bed bugs? Big difference, no?)

This does sound promising, though as a customer, I would not mind if they then employed a bit of residual or mechanical (dust) killer to seal the deal. When it comes to killing bed bugs, I don’t think there’s such a thing as overkill.

It sounds like Joni does a lot of sleuthing looking for bed bugs in hotels, and a regular run through with the bedbug dog and an industrial steamer would be greatly reassuring to me as a prospective hotel guest.

In Australia, similar dogs are used to sniff out termites, which mainly affect the coastal urban areas of the country. Joni was trained in Queensland, one of five dogs around the world trained to sniff out bedbugs.

I think this may be based on outdated statistics, since I know of at least five bed bug-sniffing dogs currently working in the United States! Nevertheless, it does sound like bedbuggers in New Zealand and at least some parts of Australia have or will soon have access to this service, which is spreading quickly, as is (unfortunately) the need for it.

1 Joe November 16, 2007 at 12:00 am

Do you know of any bed bug dogs currently operating in the Boston area? They’ve come highly recommended, and I would love to have more assurance that my BB ordeal is, or is not, over.

2 Kevin June 24, 2008 at 4:30 am

Hi Can anyone put me in contact with John Morley who was featured in the programe about killing bed bugs with a steam cleaning machine? If so would love to hear from you.
Thanks Kevin

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