Horticulture

Dogs trained to find stink bugs

By Country News

Australia’s biosecurity detector dogs now have their noses honed on one of the nation’s most unwanted exotic pests — the brown marmorated stink bug.

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ biosecurity head Lyn O’Connell said the department was working with the University of New England to train the dogs to detect this serious pest in sea cargo.

‘‘Detector dogs are a pivotal frontline defence against pests and diseases, intercepting around 60000 biosecurity risk items at Australia’s international airports and mail centres in 2018,’’ Ms O’Connell said.

‘‘We have strong measures in place offshore and at the border to manage the risk of this pest arriving here and we’ll soon have the best noses in the business on the job.

‘‘In Brisbane, we are currently trialling the use of detector dogs for the screening of imported cars. This is a first for biosecurity in Australia.’’

Brown marmorated stink bug are frequently transported by hitchhiking in sea cargo before arriving at their next destination

Further research will now be undertaken to support the training of new and existing detector dogs which will also allow the department to conduct rapid response training for existing dogs to help manage other seasonal or emerging pest and disease risks.

BMSB is a significant threat to Australia’s $12billion horticulture industry and can cause damage to vegetable crops, fruit and ornamental trees.