These spaniels have an important job: catching bed bugs

Dogs that catch bed bugs

Several dogs are being trained for a very important job (Image: Merlin Environmental)

It might be gross to think about bed bugs, but they can be a huge problem – especially in the hospitality industry.

Bed bugs live longer than you might think, and if you stay in a hotel with an infestation, you could bring those suckers home and end up plaguing your whole family with itchy bites.

That’s why catching bed bugs sooner rather than later is so important – but it can be difficult to know if the insidious things have been completely eliminated.

That’s why Merlin Environmental, a West Sussex-based pest control service, trained a litter of adorable spaniels to sniff out any remaining insects.

Due to multiple Covid-19 lockdowns, bed bugs have been found to have lived in locked and empty hotels for nine to 12 months, according to the company’s research.

Founder Adam Juson, who has been in the industry for 20 years, explains that the company has a pack of spaniels who already sniff out bed bugs and their puppies are being trained.

two playing dogs

The dogs have a lot of fun when they’re not working hard catching bed bugs (Image: Merlin Environmental)

a dog sniffing a chair

It can take several months to train spaniels to hunt bed bugs (Picture: Merlin Environmental)

Litter of puppies with their mother

The company now has seven more puppies in training (Picture: Merlin Environmental)

Juson tells “Spaniels are great at spotting bed bugs. As hunting dogs, they are well suited to using their nose for searching.

“They have amazing energy levels and drive, which allows them to search with greater accuracy. Coupled with their maneuverability and size, they are the perfect choice for entry into hotels, airplanes, etc.”

They’re also small enough to get into tight spots – and they’re so cute too.

Your service reduces the risk of bed bug activity by at least 90% in any room.

“The screens will become an early warning system for location and the canines will sniff out a single bug at each life stage and also point out viable bed bug eggs,” notes Adam. “This will then prevent a small first-stage problem from becoming an uncontrolled infestation.”

Dog is in the snow

The company has a 90% success rate using the dogs (Image: Merlin Environmental)

Dog sniffs the edge of the kettle

There are currently 16 hardworking bug catchers out there protecting us (Image: Merlin Environmental)

The company trains the spaniels through operant conditioning: “The dog receives a reward in the form of games when it performs the behavior that we require. In that case, sit down and stare at the spot where the bed bugs are.’

It often takes months to train spaniels to Juson’s high standards of bed bug hunting.

After the dogs are taken in to sniff out the bed bugs and their presence is determined, the company heats the area to 50 degrees Celsius – at this temperature the bed bugs cannot survive.

The dogs are then brought back to sniff out the area and make sure it is truly bed bug free.

The company offers its services across the UK and is committed to using non-toxic chemicals in its pest control services, which is far more environmentally friendly than many other pest control services.

Merlin currently has 16 spaniels working for the company and they are considered “star employees”.

Seven other puppies are being trained as we speak to join their elders in the hard work.

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