Dogs sniff out trouble for palm trees

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DOGS could long-term help end the red palm weevil plague that has decimated thousands of palm trees in recent years throughout Andalucia.

For the first time in Europe, Lucaplant, a Valencia palm tree protection company,has trained dogs to recognise the presence of the palm weevil before infestation.

 “No specialist can be sure if there is a part of a palm tree infected with the red palm weevil, but a dog can detect it, allowing time to take action and treat the tree,” explained Lucaplant manager, Pedro Hernandez.

Though Hernandez states that the company’s dog training techniques are classified as “top secret,” he explained that they are not very different from those used to train bombs or drug-detection.

Currently three dogs of the boxer and border collie breeds have completed the training.

The red palm weevil was discovered in Spain for the first time in Almuñecar (Granada) in 1995. Lucaplant will be presenting this project in Thailand this September and in Miami in 2014, said Hernandez who added that the company has received various requests from all over the world asking for their dogs to investigate certain palm trees.

Considering the insect feeds on the inner part of palm trees, it is difficult to detect by a simple visual examination. Lucaplant expects its canines’ keen sense of smell to help prevent dangerous proliferation of the red palm weevil.

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