Oak Island man’s termite detector also finds new menace – bedbugs
From hotel managers to college students across the country – just about everyone is itch’n to solve the recent bedbug outbreak. Now it looks like one Brunswick County man’s invention could help crack the case.
Longtime termite inspector Bill Moyer of Oak Island turned inventor in 2003 with the debut of his Termite Detection System. The unit is able to pinpoint exact locations of termites and has enjoyed steady business over the past seven years, but in the past couple weeks, sales have gone through the roof. The reason: It turns out Moyer’s termite tracker can also track down bedbugs. “These huge companies that wouldn’t give me the time of day before are now calling me four times a day. Big hotels chains are calling us,” said Moyer, founder and owner of Termite Detection Systems Inc. “I’m not sure what’s going to happen with all of this, but it’s a lot of fun right now.”
It’s a craze caused by the sudden reappearance of bed bugs. The National Pest Management Association says there’s been a 500 percent increase in bedbug service calls in the past five years. This month in Salisbury, 1,000 Catawba College students were asked to leave their dorm rooms because of the parasitic pests. Moyer says one out of every four hotel rooms is infested.
“You can pick one up at a movie theater and within a month you’ve got 1,000 of them living in your house,” said Moyer.
Exterminators using Moyer’s Termite Detection System for service calls were the first to realize its dual bug-finding capabilities.
“Took it out and tried it in a house, and sure enough – found bedbugs,” said Brunswick Pest Control owner Rick Murdaugh.
The common denominator is carbon dioxide – the key behind Moyer’s invention. Both termites and bedbugs produce high levels of CO2. The termite, produces more CO2 than any other living being. Moyer learned that factoid from a radio show, and it’s what led to his creation of TDS. Using rubber tubing and a gas monitor, he designed the unit to locate high concentrations of CO2 inside walls. The discovery that bedbugs give off CO2 as well is proving to be an added bonus and covered under Moyer’s original patent.
“As a patent lawyer, you always want to write claims for not only what you know it will do, but perhaps what might be discovered it will do in the future,” said Moyer’s patent attorney, Michael Mauney. “Then you say, ‘Aha,’ and feel good for your client.”
To make sure, TDS underwent one year of testing with Pest Management Trainingin New York and Moyer’s office to prove its bedbug-finding ability. On Sept. 2, news the TDS now tracks bedbugs hit the TDS Inc. newsletter. Then – boom – more orders in one week than the company had all year.
“I don’t have time to turn around in the day, so many people ordering,” Moyer said.
“Before it was all visual inspection. We had to roll the sheets off the bed, take off the mattress, look inside cracks and crevices around the bed. This sure makes it a lot easier,” Murdaugh said.
Moyer says there are now just two things in the world able to detect bedbugs: A trained detection dog and TDS.
TDS units sell for $1,358 and are typically sold to pest control companies, but Moyer is now getting individual orders. One woman from Oklahoma ordered a unit after bed bug detection dogs found nothing.
“She had been eaten up for over a year every night. She checked all round the house and then held it up in the air and it started reacting. The bed bugs had been hiding in her ceiling, so the dogs couldn’t find them,” said Moyer. “You can’t hold dogs up to a ceiling.”
Videos of the Termite Detection System in action finding bedbugs are now online on the TDS website at www.termitedetector.com.
“A lot of people say, ‘I thought that was just some old saying – good night and don’t let the bedbugs bite,’ ” Murdaugh said. “But it’s true, they bite! This will be good to have. The faster we can find them, the quicker we can get rid of them.”
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