New U.P. business putting bed bug fears to rest
A new Upper Peninsula business is helping find and rid the region of a returning pest, the bed bug.
Lady Killers Bed Bug Management was formed by the duo of Munising-area mo
tel owners Victoria Gariepy (2004 School of Business and Economics Alumn) and Angela Tiernan over the summer, when they realized a need to have bed bug abatement services more readily available in the U.P.
“Wherever there’s travel and tourism, there are bed bugs” Tiernan said. Munising just happens to be one town that sees travelers from all over the world, and as a result, bed bugs have indeed shown up. With the nearest abatement specialists several hundred miles away in Minnesota, however, Gariepy and Tiernan realized that they – and all U.P. motel and hotel owners – would be left with possibility of having to keep rooms closed for weeks while awaiting treatment.
“It’s such a growing problem. It’s a fear that we all have,” Gariepy said about potential bed bug infestations in their motel rooms. “It was about June, and a friend was concerned that she had one,” she added. At that time, Gariepy and Tiernan realized that something more could be done locally in the cases where bed bugs are found, to help alleviate the fear and to decrease the response time when extermination services are needed.
By August, after much research, the pair had purchased equipment that could take care of bed bugs for good, or at least until the next customer unknowingly carries more in. Now operating under the “Lady Killers” name, the women began to utilize special extreme heating units in affected rooms to safely and cleanly kill the bugs, which tend to hide in dark, tight corners, including in bed creases, behind headboards, and more. The heating unit is placed in the room, until it reaches and maintains a temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit. To reach all of the bugs, the room is taken apart to expose as many hiding places as possible, and room components rearranged a couple times during the heating period in order to negate any cold spots.
In addition to leaving no residues, the heating process differs from chemical treatments in that it more effectively kills bed bugs in all life stages, including the eggs, thus preventing natural reinfestation.
Now, after just a couple months of success using the heating units and gaining feedback from customers, Gariepy and Tiernan have decided to expand Lady Killers to include another step, a bed bug diagnostic service.
Beginning in December, the duo will begin using special bed bug-sniffing dogs to help facility owners assess whether or not they do have bed bugs present. “The first defense against bed bugs is their customers in the room,” Tiernan said, adding that this is just about the last thing motel owners want to have to discuss with their guests on any given morning. She and Gariepy were not alone in this thinking; owners of larger U.P. motels asked if Lady Killers would offer the dog service locally, since, like the Minnesota heating unit service, the nearest trained dog comes from quite a distance, out of downstate Kalamazoo.
Like those trained to sniff out drugs or bombs, dogs can be taught to smell and indicate the presence of live bed bugs. Humans can inspect a room, too, the women said, but the process takes a substantial amount of time, and each room must be torn apart in order to look in all types of hiding places. The dogs can perform the same task much more quickly, and without the need to take apart anything. “With the dogs, you’re in and out of a room in minutes,” Gariepy said. Tiernan also noted that the dogs can execute the task at a much higher accuracy rate than humans.
The duo opted to go straight to the person considered to be the country’s authority on the issue, Bill Whitstine, who has been featured with his trained bed bug-sniffing dogs on the Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible.” Gariepy and Tiernan will soon spend a week at Whitstine’s training facility in Florida, learning how to work with their two new dogs and to read their cues, before returning with them ready to get to work in the U.P. and the Upper Great Lakes region.
Lady Killers Bed Bug Management’s heating and bed bug diagnostic services will be available to more than just motels and hotels; Gariepy and Tiernan will happily work with any facility that may harbor the pests, including nursing homes, apartments, and even houses. “You can get a bed bug anywhere,” Tiernan said. More information about Lady Killers’ services may be visited online at www.ladykillers.me. They may be contacted directly by emailing BedBugHitman@gmail.com, or by calling Gariepy at 906-202-0812 or Tiernan at 920-737-8349.