Canine Nosework

Calling all Tibetan Terrier Owners: Help Sniff Out the Dangerous Spotted Lanternfly

After participating in the sport of scent detection for 10 years, Honey Creek Tibetan Terriers have recently been offered the opportunity to participate in the research, training, and recruitment for a study investigating how effectively dogs can detect spotted lanternfly eggs.  The Department of Agriculture is currently recruiting dogs with prior scent training in either professional search and rescue or competitive scent sports. Eventually because of the magnitude of this problem the Department of Agriculture hopes to have an interested talent pool to train dog and owner teams how to sniff out invasive insects.  Thee teams can become involved with managing the destruction of insect pests as the problem is too large for the Department of Agriculture to handle.  Many worry that the implication to our economy and food supply could create a public emergency.

Why Are Spotted Lanternflies a Threat?

Spotted lanternflies (Lycorma delicatula), native to China, are wreaking havoc on native ecosystems as well as the agricultural and forestry industry since they arrived in the U.S. in 2014. From New York to North Carolina and as far west as Illinois and Texas, the invasive spotted lanternfly is causing chaos in many states where agricultural and forestry industries are essential to the economy. Infestations of Spotted Lanternfly has lowered crop yields and increase production costs in economically important crops such as grape, stone fruit, and nursery stock. The invasive species is currently in 14 Eastern states, but recent research suggests the pest will be on the West Coast soon enough.

How Can Dogs Help Root Out Spotted Lanternflies?

Researchers with Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and their partners are now using a four-year grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to deploy detection dogs to sniff out the problem insects. The researchers are partnering with the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW) to recruit teams of dogs and their owners to detect spotted lanternfly eggs. They hope to eventually get citizen scientists involved, too. At the completion of the study, the scientists hope to have a strong network of handlers able to locate spotted lanternfly egg masses as a proof-of-concept program, with the intent to create an enduring citizen-based detection program for this and other invasive species.

Why Scent Work is Good for You and Your Dog

One of the best parts about scent work for dogs is that ANY dog can participate. While in some sports, like agility, where a lot of physical exertion is required, scent work is fun and rewarding for dogs of all ages, shapes and sizes. Canines have amazing noses, no matter the breed– scent work could be the sport for you!  There are a variety of organizations you can practice and compete for Scent Work under, including AKC, UKC, NACSW, or CPE. While the basics are generally the same, each organization has slightly different rules, qualifiers, and odor combinations.

Maybe you would like to participate in helping locate spotted Lanternflies but maybe you just want to do something like Scent work to provide both the mental and physical piece that contribute to yours and your dog’s well-being.

Learn more about the Spotted Lanternfly program:

Honey Creek Tibetans