Ellie the Canine Detector of Bed Bugs in CT

Ellie the bed bug detector in actionCBS 2 Meets The ‘Bed Bug Hunter’

Undercover Cameras Show ‘Ellie’ Sniffing Out The Nuisance

August 18, 2010 6:34 PM

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — AMC movie theatres in Harlem and Times Square are the most recent Manhattan locations invaded by bed bugs.

On Wednesday, CBS 2 sent consumer reporter Kirstin Cole on a bed bugs hunt with a secret weapon in the war on the dreaded creatures.

She met “Ellie,” a 4-year-old beagle, trained as an elite member of the K9 bed bugs hunters. She can work a room, sniffing for her prey at a clothing store until she finds her target and hits on where they’re hiding out.

Several clothing stores in Manhattan, including Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister and Victoria’s Secret, have all had bouts with bed bug infestations. They cleaned up and re-opened.

CBS 2 wanted to see how widespread they are — using a beagle trained to sniff them out, just like a bomb or drug detection dog. They’ve been found to be 98 percent accurate.

How easy is it to get these things (bed bugs)?

“Right now, very easy. You can go somewhere, a movie theatre, a restaurant, you sit down and you bring them back,” trainer Kristie Mastroberti said.

Cole walked Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, choosing half a dozen stores at random. Ellie’s trainer looks watched for the dog to sniff and paw at her prey, showing she found bed bugs.


“They’re everywhere nowadays especially in cities because there are so many people and so much traffic and that’s actually how they get around — from travel,” Mastroberti said.


In four of the stores Ellie had positive hits, evidence of bed bugs according to Mastroberti, all captured by CBS 2’s undercover cameras. From a stack of jeans to a sweater, a couch to chill out while shopping to another pile of pants, time after time, trained Ellie pawed at her prey, indicating a positive find of a bed bug.

“They’re everywhere nowadays especially in cities because there are so many people and so much traffic and that’s actually how they get around — from travel,” Mastroberti said.

Pest control experts say it’s not if you’re going to face an infestation, but when. And that’s why it’s so important to know the signs of infestation in your home, and how to get rid of them.

Short of having Ellie come scour your place, here’s what
you need to know to find out if you have bed bugs:

  • Look for these black stains, which are their fecal matter, or a blood splotch on sheets if they’ve been squashed when you roll over while sleeping.
  • Bites can range in size from small mosquito bite up to a large welt. Find any of these and call in the experts immediately to begin treatments.

“You could be the cleanest person in the world and still get beg bugs. It all depends on where you go,” Mastroberti said.

Experts say awareness is the best way win this battle.

One bright spot: bed bugs do not spread any diseases.