Saving Florida Avocado Groves
Cobra, a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois, is trained to detect laurel wilt-diseased trees before the visible symptoms are seen. Once a diseased tree is identified, the "agri-dog" will sit, indicating a positive alert.

Just when I was thinking if it is possible to train my dog Lola to “detect” aphids on our backyard apple tree, I learn that dogs trained at Florida International University have a leg up on us. The Florida researchers looked at using “the highly sensitive canine olfactory system that is capable of detecting odor concentrations at exceedingly minute 1 to 2 parts per trillion” to help in early detection work to find the red-bay ambrosia beetle, a nonnative insect that was introduced from Asia in untreated wooden packing material. That transplant beetle is responsible for the spread of “laurel wilt” that is decimating avocado groves in Florida.

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