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New ways to rid of pesky bed bug problems

February 16, 2010 6:07:02 PM PST
They can be annoying and worse, a health risk, but bedbugs can also be very difficult to get rid of. Scientists have come up with two new ways to remove the pesky pests.It may look like obedience class, but dogs at the J & K Canine Academy are using their noses to track down where tiny bedbugs are hiding.

"A lot of our dogs are rescue dogs," said Jose Peruyero, the CEO of the academy.

They search an entire hotel room in one to two minutes.

"We want to, ideally, have a dog detect as few as one egg or one bedbug in a room," said Peruyero.

The canine nose is just one weapon in the fight against a growing problem of bedbug infestations in homes, hotels, nursing homes and even movie theaters

"Bedbugs have evolved resistance to many of the insecticides that we're allowed to use to kill them," said Dr. Phil Koehler, an entomologist at the University of Florida.

Koehler and his team developed a pesticide-free system to kill an infestation. It works like a bedbug oven

"The idea is that it only takes about 113 degrees Fahrenheit to kill bedbugs," said Koehler.

He builds a Styrofoam box around infested furniture, heats the enclosed area to about 140 degrees with a space heater and waits.

The entire process takes two to five hours with no damage to furniture. In nine of 11 tests, the system killed 100 percent of the bedbugs. The cost of the entire reusable system is $300, resulting in science that saves money and leaves no room for unwanted guests.

Commercial treatment for a typical hotel room costs $300 to $800 and takes about 12 hours.

Koehler says using oil-based space heaters lowers the risk of accidental fire. Standard ways to get rid of bedbugs involve replacing furniture or using pesticides.

More Bedbug Information

Background

Although bedbugs were virtually eradicated in the United States by the 1960s, increased international travel and restrictions on pesticides have caused a resurgence in places ranging from nursing homes to dormitories to movie theaters. In fact, travelers who carry the insects in their luggage and clothing are the most common recipients of bites. The National Pest Management Association has reported a 71-percent increase in bedbug infestation in the U.S. since 2001.

Bedbugs leave a bite similar in appearance to that from a mosquito, which takes 10 to 14 days to surface. Once the itching starts, the bite normally lasts for about a month. While bothersome, a recent U.S. study found bedbugs rarely, if ever, transmit disease. Systemic reactions have been reported but are rare.

According to researchers, the name "bedbug" can actually be misleading.

"They don't stay in the bed," Koehler said. "They can be found just about everywhere in the room, and they can be found in sofas. They can be found even in wall sockets, and even inside wall voids. Probably, about 30 percent are going to be found in other areas of the room you wouldn't even think of."

For more information contact Jose Peruyero, CEO of J & K Canine Academy in High Springs, Fla. at (386) 454-3647 or office@jkcanine.com.


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