Updated August 23 2013
Bennett Aerospace is moving "to mass production and widely distributed use by both government agencies and commercial businesses" of their food-reward trained insects to detect bed bugs. Their "biosensing device provides users with a handheld device that is ready for use 24/ 7 and delivers the ability to detect chemicals as good as or better than dogs."
Minutes to Train
Interesting to say the least. Such use of insects to respond to a target scent has occurred in the past and specialized rats are used to detect some cancers and land mines, so why not? At first glance the life-span of the insect and environmental conditions to maintain the insect, plus continued reinforcement of the food-reward system would seem to be the first hurdles that spring to mind. Apparently the insects may be trained in a matter of minutes.
The company's website gives some mention to the initiative - it is not their only undertaking or project; while this news release provides a bit more, including a reference to 'crowd-sourcing' for further funding of the project. Prior 'electronic dog nose' initiatives should provide sufficient warning, so potential investors beware.
In the meantime, there are viable alternatives that are already here and proven, such as passive bed bug monitors as an early warning system and canine-assisted bed bug inspections if you feel your home or business has been exposed. First though, be sure you know what a bed bug looks like; and not just the adults, but the nymphs and eggs as well. Know the enemy.