20/20 Segment

Industry Talking Points

Prepared for the National Pest Management Association

by the Professional Pest Management Alliance

9 January 2015



On Friday, January 9, ABC's national newsmagazine show, 20/20, is expected to air the first of two segments regarding the pest control industry. Tonight's segment will explore the effectiveness of canine scent detection teams for bed bugs.


The segment is expected to include footage from an undercover investigation conducted last year in the New York City area.  A home was staged by the 20/20 team and certified to be free from bed bugs by two entomologists, Paul Bello and Lou Sorkin.  A fictitious homeowner, allegedly concerned about bed bugs, invited 11 canine scent detection teams into the home to see what they would "find."  As a whole, our industry performed "by the book" with the inspections. This segment is expected to include commentary on best practices from Lou Sorkin, Paul Bello and Missy Henriksen, NPMA's vice president of public affairs.


If you get calls from customers expressing concern or even the local media, consider using these talking points to clarify the industry's Best Management Practices, specifically when it comes to bed bugs and canine scent detection teams. In addition, below are tips for consumers on how to hire a professional contractor they can trust. Companies are free to adapt this list to reflect their own company policies.



The resurgence of bed bugs has created significant concern in the pest management industry and society overall. Controlling, let alone eradicating, this pest is extremely difficult. To help industry professionals control bed bugs effectively, responsibly and safely, the NPMA has created  Best Management Practices for Bed Bugs, guidelines developed by industry professionals, regulators, academics and entomologists. These guidelines are available to consumers and should be followed closely by all licensed pest professionals.


As seen in the 20/20 piece, bed bug infestations can be detected by specially trained canine scent detection teams. Because of their abilities, these teams can be particularly useful in certain circumstances, such as when bed bugs are suspected but no live bugs or viable eggs are found through visual inspection. While canine scent detection teams have been known to be effective, pest control professionals should not rely on them 100 percent to determine the presence of bed bugs.


Instead, according to the NPMA, if a canine alerts to a handler that it is picking up the scent of bed bugs, the handler or pest management professional should confirm the alert prior to making a treatment or recommendation of treatment. Specifically, the handler or a pest management professional should visually inspect the area to confirm the presence of an active infestation or utilize a second canine team. All scent detection canine teams should hold a current, independent, third party certification in accordance with guidelines outlined in the Minimum Standards for Canine Bed Bug Detection Team Certification, found in the best practices.


When hiring a professional to do service work in their home, homeowners should always consider the following to ensure they are entering into a relationship with a reputable company they can trust:

  • Evaluate pest control professionals and companies that are members of national, state or local pest management associations.
  • Consider an NPMA QualityPro company. Visit for more information.
  • Ask friends and neighbors to recommend professional pest control companies they have used successfully and how satisfied they were with the service.
  • Always deal with a qualified and licensed pest control company. Consider asking to see the license or other credentials of the pest management professional that comes to solve your pest problem.
  • If a sizable amount of money is involved, get bids from several pest management professionals.
  • Don't rush a decision. Since you are paying for professional pest control knowledge as well as skillful application of pesticides, look for someone whose judgment you can trust.
  • Before signing a contract, be sure to fully understand the nature of the household pest to be exterminated, the extent of the infestation, and the work necessary to solve the problem.
  • Find out if the pest control company has liability insurance to cover any damages to your house or furnishings during treatment.
  • If a guarantee is given, know what it covers, how long it lasts, what you must do to keep it in force, and what kind of continuing control, prevention and management are necessary.
  • Buy value, not price. Beware of companies that offer bargains that sound too good to be true.
  • Be wary of companies that comes to your home uninvited and offers to give your house a free inspection for pests. They may try to scare you into authorizing immediate and costly treatments.
  • Homeowners can call state pest management regulatory agencies for information regarding the status of professional pest control companies. In most states the regulatory agency is the State Department of Agriculture.