In the South Australian Riverland, fruit fly detector dogs will be deployed for the first time. They will help in the struggle against potentially devastating outbreaks that could heavily impact the state’s horticulture sector.
The detector dogs have the potential to cover large areas of land very quickly and support field teams in their search by identifying potential hotspots which require further investigation. The training has involved hiding irradiated larvae in mesh bags that are either buried in the ground or hung from the trees in an orchard.
The detector dogs then search all trees in the orchard; they will lie down if they detect the larvae.
According to Primary Industries Minister Clare Scriven, the dogs have the potential to identify fruit fly outbreaks much faster than the current response teams: “Finding Queensland fruit fly larvae early is important in preventing it from spreading and becoming established. Detector dogs are increasingly being used to identify pests and this is the first time they have been used to detect Queensland larvae infestations in fruit.”
SA successfully eradicated a series of Mediterranean fruit fly outbreaks across metropolitan Adelaide late last year, easing concerns for the state’s $1.3 billion horticultural sector.