It's no secret that once hatched, these insects kill trees and destroy crops, as seen for a second year in Philadelphia and its suburbs.
While the unhatched baby insects may seem odorless to humans, dogs can detect them as proven through a new pilot training program at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine.
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"We put these eggs in front of them, and when they sniff them, we use a clicker. We mark it and we give them a reward," said Dr. Jennifer Essler, a postdoctoral researcher helping to lead the pilot project. "Then you make the game more difficult. You add distracting odors, hide more eggs in more difficult places and train them for whatever scenario."
And the results have been astounding.
"We found that after training on the dead eggs, the dogs transferred easily to the live eggs in just a couple of sessions," said Essler. Preliminary results from the study show that the dogs correctly identified egg masses with up to 95% accuracy while also correctly ignoring non-target scents up to 93% of the time."
New study reveals that dogs may help in the fight against the Spotted Lanternfly. After a 4-5 month study, @pennvet says canines are able to detect the insects’ eggs which will be helpful during the winter’s egg laying season @6abc pic.twitter.com/RcZzyiAhIm— Christie Ileto (@Christie_Ileto) September 22, 2020
The study itself took about five months using three different dogs.
PennVet says Lucky, an 18-month-old German Shepherd, will eventually be paired with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to help fend off these invasive species.