Super Sniffer Dog Helps Eradicate Invasive Ant Species

Invasive ants are a problem on the South Californian Channel Islands, but a unique solution has been found in the form of a Labrador with a special talent.

The Channel Islands have had a problem with Argentine ants for a long time. They were introduced to the islands accidentally, when they arrived on boats with contractors working on the islands. Officials been actively trying to wipe them out since 2009. A synthetic ant pheromone-based pesticide was the first solution, but that wasn’t enough. The next step was to bring in Tobias, a Labrador Retriever with a talent for sniffing out ants nests!

These tiny pests may not sound like a big problem, but the Argentine ants are a huge threat to the island’s ecosystem. The main problem is, that their presence results in bees being unable to pollinate the flowers, and so the islands are seeing their plant species disappearing one by one.

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Tobias and his handler have been living on Santa Cruz for three months now and his special training makes him the perfect solution for combating the ant problem. He literally sniffs out the ant nests so they can be disposed of.

Tobias is a natural at finding the nests, and the good news is that most of the nests he finds are actually empty. This means that the pesticides have worked and those ants are long gone. It’s too early to say that the problem has been totally eradicated, but the Working Dogs For Conservation Group are feeling pretty positive that they’re certainly headed in the right direction.

Tobias loves his work–he adores his reward for sniffing out a new nest, which is time spent playing with his favorite ball. Tobias will eventually be moved to San Clemente Island to perform the same task there, and we’re sure he’ll sniff out the ants and give them their marching orders!


Emily Hutchinson
Emily Hutchinson

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