If you’ve never been bitten by a fire ant, consider yourself lucky; the small light brown insects are known for painful stinging bites and destroying whatever environment they infest.
Luckily for Australia, a team of the world’s first fire-ant-sniffing pooches are on the job.
The National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program has never had a problem getting rid of the actual insects, but tracking them down is the hard part. Since a dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 times stronger than that of a human, the canines have been leading exterminators to any fire ant colonies that need to be terminated in central Queensland.
The nine dogs trained to do the sniffing are given an ant pheromone to track.
If no more fire ant colonies are reported in the Gladstone region, it will be the fastest eradication program in the world – completed two years ahead of schedule.
With hundreds of thousands of people hospitalized each year for the bug’s nasty bite, Gladstone’s eradication team is hopeful that the sniffing method will revolutionize the way exterminators hunt fire ants around the world.
Photo by Basayan Lady, CC