Are you sure you have bed bugs? Lots of people find a suspicious bug, and need to know (asap) what they’re dealing with.
Some people are able to visit a local entomologist or university extension service, and others will ask a local pest firm to identify their bug.
And some people even put their samples in an envelope and send them away to a pest identification service.
The New Yorker has a new article on Carolyn Klass, who is just retiring from her position as Cornell University’s diagnostician for insect pests, after 38 years. (Note: she says she did not see any bed bugs for the first twenty years.)
Meribah Knight visited Klass’s office:
On her left was a pile of letters from potential infestees. Some were panicky: “[Found] a few weeks ago, not sure. Would like to know if they are bedbugs. I was seen in the E.R. approx. three weeks [ago], and was told I had insect reaction on my calfs.”
Klass’s conclusion: Bedbugs negative.
Some were breezy: “Woke up to see this bug; crushed it and blood stained the white quilt. Looked for more bugs but did not find any. I placed the squished insect in Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2 with alcohol.”
Some were in denial: “I think it might be a tick.”
Scrawled on the envelope of one specimen were the words “Red Bug.” Klass peered into her microscope. “Red bug—well, it is a red bug, but it’s a red bedbug,” she said. The bug was crushed. “My guess is it went through the postage meter.”
It’s a service which cost $25, but as the article notes was an unbiased one — unlike pest management firms, who can turn a positive pest identification into business.
And now the future of the service is unknown: according to the article, Klass has not been replaced. The department’s website says the office is closed through mid-February (which sounds promising).
Pest pros and even some experienced bedbuggers who frequent the Bedbugger forums will generally be able to identify a clear, close-up photo of a domestic pest.
If you can’t post a photo and don’t want to pay the above fees, make sure you get good advice: if there isn’t a local university extension or entomology department, consider taking your pest sample to a reputable pest control firm — one which is well-known and cares more about its reputation than selling you an unnecessary service.