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Answer Man: A Nose for Bugs

Allen Clausen and his dog Monty, who went from rescue canine to bedbug detector extraordinaire.

Allen Clausen and his dog Monty, who went from rescue canine to bedbug detector extraordinaire.

norma Lopez Molina

 

Q: Can dogs really detect termites and bedbugs?

 
A: Canines are literally superhuman when it comes to sniffing out the insects. Phil Koehler, a professor of entomology at the University of Florida, tested some highly trained dogs a decade ago and found that they were right 90 percent of the time when indicating live termites. More recent tests using bedbugs produced a stunning 98 percent accuracy rate, Koehler says. Humans stink by comparison, mustering only 35 to 40 percent on the detection meter.
As with canines that sniff for bombs or drugs, insect dogs are trained through a reward system, usually food. Bedbug dogs are rising in popularity, but they’re not cheap—a trained ace can cost $10,000. Like Monty, for instance. The personable 2-year-old Harrier—which looks like a long-legged beagle—visited Answer Man’s office recently for a demonstration, along with owner Allen Clausen, who runs On Target K-9, a bedbug-detecting business based in Poinciana.
Monty, who was rescued from a Tampa shelter, is an eager bedbug hunter and with good reason: If he doesn’t work, he doesn’t eat. Even on days when there are no jobs, Monty polishes his skills, picking out a container of bedbugs from among six possibilities on a practice wheel, or tracking down vials of them hidden throughout a house. “He’s got such high drive,’’ Clausen says. “He just wants to work, work, work.’’
Upon locating the villains, the 2-year-old canine simply sits, or as Clausen says, “parks.’’ And lest you think bedbugs reside only in beds, Clausen, who does most of his work for apartments and rental properties, says Monty has found them in wallets, canes, even a man’s prosthetic leg. 
But outside of the creepies in the test vial, Monty found no bedbugs in Answer Man’s quarters. Indeed, everything went off without an itch.
 


Natalie Starr

Q: How is Orlando stacking up on recent goofy lists?

 
A: The city is unclean of mind, somewhat Botoxed, kind of manly—and, of course, a traveler’s dream.
Let’s start with the dirt: Men’s Health magazine has labeled Orlando as America’s smuttiest city, based on the number of adult DVDs purchased, rented or streamed; the number of adult entertainment stores; naughty searches on Google; and households that subscribe to Cinemax. Also in Men’s Health, Orlando was ranked the 16th vainest city, based on, among other things, the number of cosmetic procedures (Tampa was No. 1). Meanwhile, Mars Chocolate (!?) ranked O-town as the nation’s 28th manliest city (criteria included number of home improvement stores and steak houses). But three cheers for Orlando International Airport: Travel + Leisure magazine says it’s the fourth best in the country. And a recent cheaphotels.org survey found that of 30 U.S. travel destinations surveyed, Orlando had the cheapest rooms (cheaphotels.org/press/summer-2012.html)
 
Answer Man welcomes your questions about the Orlando area. Send queries to answerman@orlandomagazine.com

 

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