Detector dogs could be trained to find invasive insect pests at borders before they establish in new areas. However, without access to the live insects themselves, odor training aids are needed to condition dogs to their scent. This proof-of-concept study assessed 2 potential training aids for insect detection: a scent extract and dead specimens of the target species. Using Musgraveia sulciventris (Hemiptera: Tessaratomidae) as an experimental model, gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analyses were carried out to compare the chemical headspaces that make up the odors of live specimens and these 2 training aids. This was then followed by canine scent-detection testing to investigate biosecurity detector dogs’ (n = 4) responses to training in an ecologically valid context. Both the scent extract and the dead specimens shared the majority of their volatile organic compounds (VOCs) with live insects. Of the dogs trained with scent extract (n = 2), both were able to detect the live insects accurately, and of those trained with dead specimens (n = 2), one detected the live insects accurately. These findings lend support for these training aids as odor-proxies for live insects—particularly scent extract, which is a relatively novel product with the potential for broad application to facilitate and improve insect-detection training.

This article contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0 (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3/).