Ability of canine termite detectors to locate live termites and discriminate them from non-termite material

J Econ Entomol. 2003 Aug;96(4):1259-66. doi: 10.1093/jee/96.4.1259.


Dogs were trained to detect Eastern subterranean termites, Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar), using the United States Customs method of scent detection dog training modified with a food reward. Dogs were tested with various numbers of Eastern subterranean termites placed in vented PVC containers. Trained dogs were 95.93% accurate in finding > or = 40 Eastern subterranean termite workers (positive indications) and incorrectly indicated the presence of termites in 2.69% of the containers without termites. Multiple species of termites [dark southern subterranean, R. virginicus (Banks); Formosan subterranean, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki; powderpost, Cryptotermes cavifrons Banks; and southeastern drywood termites, Incisitermes snyderi (Light)], were similarly evaluated. Dogs trained to locate Eastern subterranean termites were also 100% accurate in finding dark southern subterranean termites, 98.89% accurate in finding Formosan subterranean termites, 97.33% accurate in finding powderpost termites, and 88.89% accurate in finding southeastern drywood termites. Dogs were able to discriminate live termites from non-termite material. Trained dogs' false response rate was 25.33% to Eastern subterranean termite-damaged wood, 6.67% to American cockroaches, Periplaneta americana (L.), and 2.67% to Florida carpenter ants, Camponotus floridanus Buckley.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dogs*
  • Food
  • Insect Control / methods*
  • Isoptera*
  • Odorants*
  • Reward
  • Smell*