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It’s the latest technology to detect bed bugs – a scent-detection dog named Patches.
She’s a 2-year-old, part Beagle and Terrier, who was rescued from a shelter in Gainsville, Florida. After six months of training there, she’s now the only National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association certified dog in Kansas and Missouri to sniff out bed bugs.
Her handler Mark Lillis said she’s been a welcome addition to the Schendel Pest Services family in Topeka.
“She requires 24-hour attention," he said. "Patches goes wherever I go. If I want to take a vacation, she's on vacation with me."
Patches has the ability to sniff out live bed bugs or a single egg in any setting, including homes, apartments, college dorms, hospital rooms and cars. Lillis said she’s 98 percent effective, compared to that of a human, who would detect them at a 30 to 40 percent rate.
She searches in a pattern of left to right because that's the way she was trained. Patches is a passive alerter, meaning she points at one area then looks at her handler. He will then do a visual confirmation.
"She can detect the odor in areas we just physically can't inspect, small cracks and crevasses, maybe behind a baseboard, deep inside a sofa or a mattress that without defacing that mattress or sofa she can find it, the human can't," he said.
Lillis has been in the pest control industry for more than 11 years. As he watched the resurgence of bed bugs and learned of the industry's new way to fight them using scent-detection dogs, he decided to try something new.
"It's proven to be very rewarding, not only for me and Patches, but for the consumer," he said. "We're able to offer a tool for them to find bed bugs, so they know for sure if they're got them, or it's a tool to find out if the bed bugs have been eliminated once they've been treated for bed bugs."
Patches covers Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and parts of Arkansas. She's even had requests in Canada and California. It costs $249 for Patches to do a home inspection.
Lillis said there's no way to prevent bed bugs and early detection is the key. If you're waking up with bites on your body and you don't know where they came from, Lillis said you may have bed bugs. He said they feed on three different spaces of your body, or what they call breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Everyone reacts differently to the bites, he said, but you can look in your mattress or box spring for fecal droppings. He said a heavy infestation will be easy to see because the bed bugs congregate with one another.
A small infestation won't be so easy. And it doesn't matter how clean or dirty your home is, Lillis said bed bugs don't discriminate.
“They're opportunists. They hitch a ride and they want to get to a food source which is you," he said. "Typically we'll find bed bugs within five to eight feet of the bed."
To learn more about Patches, visit the home page of Schendel Pest Services.
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