LOS ANGELES — Scientists assessing efforts to eradicate invasive ants on the Channel Islands off California have enlisted a four-legged expert to sniff out the destructive insects.
A yellow Labrador named Tobias has lived for months with a handler on Santa Cruz Island. The specially-trained dog keeps its snout to the ground, searching for nests of Argentine ants that threatened the ecosystem after being introduced decades ago.
Christina Boser, an ecologist with the Nature Conservancy, said Tuesday that no new nests have been found — one sign that a project started in 2009 to wipe out the unwanted ants is successful.
Boser says in the absence of new nests, researchers have kept a few old nests around to give Tobias something to sniff out so the dog can get its reward: a favorite ball.