Labradors sniff out pesky ants

By Country News

The Northern Territory Government has deployed two ant-sniffing Labradors to help eradicate a particularly invasive species of ants.

Willow and Cola, the only two insect-detecting dogs in the world, can sniff out browsing ants, which have been found on about 20 properties in Darwin.

The introduced insect poses a considerable threat to Australia’s native flora and agriculture industries.

The ants gather in large numbers in trees and bushes, eventually killing the plants they live on.

They also eat or displace other native insects and can infest infrastructure, such as electrical boxes.

Willow and Cola can cover about 2ha each day, making them more efficient than other surveillance or detection measures.

The dogs began work last week at a transport logistics business in East Arm and identified a nest at the base of a light pole, as well as five other areas of browsing ant activity.

NT primary industries staff are now working closely with the business to ensure the risk is contained and there is minimal disruption to its operation.

‘‘Our agricultural sector is worth $500million and employs hundreds of Territorians, so it is vital we do all we can to eradicate pests that could jeopardise the success of the industry,’’ Primary Industry Minister Paul Kirby said.

‘‘The ants have been contained due to ongoing activities, which involved tracing, surveillance, baiting and spraying, and have not been detected in any other parts of the NT.’’