I wrote a previous post about our U.S. Customs and Border Patrol dogs, who are stationed at airports to sniff out contraband that enters from other countries. They are amazing and impressive...and of course, mostly beagles. Yay beagles!
A Master Gardener recently sent me an article about dogs that are employed to sniff out a devastating citrus disease that is threatening Florida's industry. The disease, Huanglongbing, abbreviated to HLB (thank goodness!) is a bacterium that prevents citrus fruit from ripening. It's also known as citrus greening. The bacteria is vectored by a psyllid, a very small insect related to aphids and mealy bugs.
|Psyllids on citrus leaves (photo courtesy of californiacitrusthreat.org)|
|Symptoms of citrus greening (photo courtesy of USDA California)|
Back to the dogs! You've likely read that dogs have been used for sniffing out cancer, bed bugs, and even emerald ash borer (!!!!!!). In the case of sniffing out threats to our agriculture industry, the USDA has looked at using dogs to detect HLB for over 15 years. They've found our canine companions have a 99% accuracy in identifying the disease. Ninety-nine percent! And the dogs are super fast at their job. They can quickly detect HLB in just a couple seconds, quickly sniffing each tree within the row. The reward for a find? A favorite chew toy.
Jerry Bishop, a dog trainer and handler with Florida-based F1-K9, scouts a Ventura County, Calif., lemon grove for HLB-causing bacteria with Bello, a Springer spaniel. (Courtesy Farm Bureau of Ventura County)
Head's up to my two beagles, Maple and Hazel, you could be employed any day! Get your resumes up-to-date. And try to sell yourselves as experts in something other than sleeping.