The Ministry of Ecological Transition, Fight against Climate Change and Territorial Planning of the Government of the Canary Islands, through the Biodiversity Service, He has launched a pilot project which will serve for determine the effectiveness of trained dogs for the detection of the invasive subterranean termite, a species detected for the first time in 2010 on the island of Tenerife and whose eradication has been worked on since 2019.
The head of the Autonomous Department, José Antonio Valbuena, pointed out that “if the suitability of this project is confirmed, the use of dogs will serve to provide information that will improve the effectiveness of the eradication of the termite plague in the Canary Islands, considerably reduce the times used in the detection, minimize spending and save media and collect data of location and hot spots of this invasive species”.
Valbuena indicated thatince 2019 an action plan has been launchedin collaboration with the Cabildo de Tenerife and, since then, actions have begun to be carried out, both administrative and on the ground.
For its part, the Deputy Minister for the Fight against Climate Change and Ecological Transition, Miguel Ángel Pérez, He explained that “this problem has been dragging on Tenerife since 2010 and it is of utmost importance to put an end to the termite to prevent it from spreading within Tenerife and to the rest of the islands.”
The initiative has a budget of 14,915.80 euros for an action to be developed during a period of twelve months, which will be divided into three phases.
The first phase lasts 45 to 60 days and in it the dogs are prepared to carry out a passive marking on the odor focus, discriminating against any other external stimulus and working on association and discrimination, so that the canids achieve a high level of precision in the differentiation of termites from other pests and environmental factors that are commonly found in the same location, such as ants, cockroaches, worms or mold, among others. All this is reinforced with a high olfactory frequency that helps maximize positive results.
The second phase supposes the beginning of the field workwith tracking in areas where the existence of termites is already known to reinforce positive markings to move on, in the third phase, to field work in non-localized areas.
In these two phases, data will be collected to help determine the effectiveness of canine detection as an aid in the eradication of termites. reticulitermes flavipes.
The invasive termite in the Canary Islands
Reticulitermes flavipes, better known as the invasive subterranean termite, is a species that is already listed as an invasive alien species in the Spanish Catalog of Invasive Alien Species. Likewise, worldwide, it is considered a species with high invasive potential that can cause serious economic and environmental damage.
This species is native to America and was detected and identified in Tenerife, around the year 2010, due to the invasion of a group of houses in the municipality of Tacoronte. Throughout the decade it has been spreading to reach the large area covered by this plague.
In the Canary Islands, this species is behaving in a more threatening manner and forming much more numerous and extensive colonies than in other places and it has been seen that they are also capable of feeding on native vegetation.