NatureFresh® Sniffs out a New Way to Find Pepper Weevil
- by Kayla Webb
LEAMINGTON, ON - Efforts are being made in Leamington, ON after the pest pepper weevil (Anthonomus Eugenii) was spotted last fall. Once caught, it is difficult to spot because of its low profile and resistance to sprays; this allows the pest to spread without notice until the pepper plant is essentially dead. However, NatureFresh® is taking a page out of law enforcements’ books by training a canine to catch the perpetrating pest at earlier stages.
“Dogs are a very intelligent animal. Many worker dogs are trained to recognize and discover scents associated with drugs or bombs, so it seemed possible to train a dog to recognize pepper weevil,” said Cam Lyons, Research and Development and IPM Technician.
Insert the heroine of this story: Chili, a trained 15-month-old Belgian Shepherd NatureFarms recently adopted. While the current crops are not carrying the pest, the training of Chili to find pepper weevil at first infestation will enable NatureFarms to catch the pest as soon as possible. She is a precautionary measure for the farm and the first certified dog to detect pests by The American Working Dog Association.
Since NatureFresh does not currently have any pepper weevil, Tina Heide, an IPM scout and Chili’s handler, stashes some of the pest in plastic containers throughout the facility. Chili then locates the hidden container full of the pest and signals an issue by sitting and staring at what she has determined is a problem area. “For Chili, it’s like a game of hide and seek. While she’s out there working, it’s actually a game for her and she’s loving it,” said Tina.
“In order to continue to grow it is essential to develop new strategies and look beyond conventional methods. We encourage our team to think outside the box and test any ideas they may have; no idea is considered too crazy,” said Peter Quiring, Owner and CEO.
Using innovative measures, NatureFresh is going to catch this pest red-handed because, doggonit, we need to stop it before it spreads again.