The California Dog Teams, CDFA’s squad of pest-detection dogs and their handlers, have enjoyed a great deal of success over the years sniffing-out invasive species at parcel delivery facilities and airfreight terminals throughout the state.
The latest find of note was made by Cairo, a Labrador mix that, like all the dogs in the program, was a rescue dog. Working with handler Mariah DeNijs last week at the U.S. Postal Service facility in West Sacramento, Cairo targeted an out-of-state shipment of crabapple that contained Pseudocneorhinus bifasciatus, also known as the two-banded Japanese weevil.
This is the first time this pest has ever been detected or intercepted in California, even though it has been established on the east coast for more than 100 years. It feeds on more than 100 plants, including azaleas, camellias, roses and strawberry plants. The weevil is a species of concern largely because of its ability to reproduce without mates, so even a single larva or adult may be enough to start an infestation.
So Cairo’s find is a big deal – but it’s also “just another day at the office.” CDFA’s detector dogs perform this essential work regularly as part of California’s pest exclusion defense system. The dogs find hundreds of actionable pests each year, preventing infestations and quarantines and providing substantial benefits for the environment, for agriculture, and for all Californians.