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Emerald Ash Borer Detection Feasibility Study

  • LOCATION:  Minnesota, USA
  • DOGS: Lily, Tia, Wicket, & Pepin
  • PURPOSE:  To determine if detection dogs can be used to identify trees invaded by the Emerald Ash Borer
  • TARGET SCENTS:  Ash wood & Emerald Ash Borer eggs, beetles, & larvae
  • PARTNER/CLIENT:  Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Plant Protection Division & the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Finding emerald ash borers (EAB) in cut wood or mulch is like finding a needle in a haystack.

Amazingly, this is something detection dogs can actually do. Their new-found ability to detect ash borer eggs, larvae, and adults makes it possible to inspect wood products -- and prevent the movement of infested wood -- in a way that simply wasn’t possible before.

EAB have already killed more than 50 million trees in the United States. Since removing and replacing a single tree can cost thousands of dollars, the economic impacts of infestation are as high as the ecological ones.

WD4C tested the use of canine detection teams to stop the spread of EAB in Minnesota, which is home to almost one billion forest-land and urban ash trees.

In pilot tests, WD4C dogs were able to distinguish ash wood from other species of trees, shrubs and mulch, and to tell EAB-infested ash wood from un-infested ash wood. They were also able to find infested wood better and more quickly than human inspectors.

Our methods and findings will be used as part of the State of Minnesota’s containment strategies and may inform other state and national efforts to curb EAB spread.