Sniffing Out Insect Invaders - A Novel Approach To Upskill Biosecurity Dogs - Ariella Moser

Sniffing Out Insect Invaders – A Novel Approach To Upskill Biosecurity Dogs - Ariella MoserTuesday 8th May

In Australia, biosecurity sniffer dogs are employed at our borders to search for biological hazards that risk introducing exotic species or diseases. Although biosecurity dogs screen for an impressive number of plant and organic materials, they have never before been trained to detect live insects. Training dogs to find exotic insects could enable us to locate hidden pests in cargo and potentially prevent incursions.

However, training dogs using live insects is problematic, since importing exotic invasive bugs is prohibited by quarantine regulations. In collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, we are exploring alternative approaches to train dogs without the use of live insects. So far, we have found promising results using solvent scent extract and frozen dead insects, which have successfully translated to dogs finding live insects with a high degree of accuracy within just a few days. In the future, it’s hoped that these techniques may be used to train biosecurity dogs to search for exotic insects at our border.