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Bad Bugs

Dog Saves Grapevine, Saving Mankind

OK, so I exaggerate. The real story is that golden retrievers are being used in Napa Valley to sniff out vine mealybugs, nasty pests that do $3-$5 million in crop damage annually. With any luck, this link will get you to a recent Wall Street Journal piece. The gist is this...

Trained to detect the scent of female mealybugs in heat, the dogs point and bark when they smell mealybugs on a grapevine. Workers can then cut away the infected vine limb before it contaminates the rest of the crop.

Autumn is out to bust mating mealybugs before their progeny destroy grapevines photo: Dani Vernon hide caption

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photo: Dani Vernon

This ain't breaking news; the intent to use dogs in this way was first reported back in February, '06. But as heard on KQED's California Report , the bug-sniffing dogs have now taken to the fields, much to the dismay of many a mealy.

In reading between the lines, it seems the effort may require breeding "high-drive, high-initiative" retrievers to do the job. Which leads me to pray, Please Lord, please make everybody STOP breeding dogs until we have homes for all the rest. Amen.