The spotted lanternfly is an invasive bug origination from China and it has been giving Agriculture officials in Pennsylvania sleepless nights for a while now. If not stopped, it is estimated to cost the state of Pennsylvania $324 million a year.
The insect was first discovered in 2014 and as of the end of August this year, there have been over 62,000 reported cases. In an attempt to curb the spread of the insect, Penn Vet researchers have turned to man’s loyal friend for help. Pacy, a Labrador Retriever, Grizzly, a German Shepherd, and Toby, a Münsterländer are the results of those efforts.
The three dogs were first trained to smell frozen lanternfly eggs in a lab before being released to the real environment. The project was a success. The dogs correctly found egg masses 95% of the time and ignored false scents 93% of the time.
“Trained dogs are “uniquely positioned” to find the egg masses because they have up to 300 million smell receptors in their noses,” says Dr. Cindy Otto, the director of Penn Vet’s Working Dog Center.
Now that the initial project has succeeded the researchers at Penn Vet are working on expanding it. Their next project is a dog named lucky who will be working with state inspectors to track and destroy the lanternfly eggs.
“We are thrilled to see the work of Dr. Otto’s team come to fruition and excited to have Lucky join the skilled team of inspectors working to keep spotted lanternfly from spreading,” Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said in a written statement.
This is just one of the many things dogs can do!
Images & Feature Image Source: Shelby Wise