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NEWS Last modified on November 9, 2015

Taiwan Taoyuan reveals unique method for ridding site of fire ants

Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TTIA) has come up with a truly unique and environmentally friendly way of ridding the airport site of red fire ants – using beagles and potato chips!

Quite simply the airport uses beagles to patrol the airport site and sniff out the ants and then uses potato chips to entice them out of their nests and capture them.

And it has proven so successful that TTIA has successfully eliminated the ants from 98% of its huge 616-hectare site with only one small area by the perimeter fence occasionally attracting them.

Believe it or not the technique is the brainchild of experts from Taiwan’s highest academic institutions – the Academia Sinica, National Pingtung University of Science and Technology and the National Changhua University of Education.

With such brainpower behind them, and the fact that the beagles can pick out a fire ant's scent 40 metres away, meant that the unwanted visitors never stood a chance!

• Although the existence of a dedicated team of sniffer dogs to hunt down fire ants at an airport is entirely new, the concept of using pooches for such purposes isn't as Biosecurity Queensland Control Centre (BQCC) has been enlisting the help of 'odour detection dogs' for five years to wipe out fire ants across Australia's second largest state.

In fact TTIA adopted protocols from Australia to help train their dogs, although that is where the similarity ends as the use of potato chips to lure them out of their nests is entirely a Taiwanese invention.


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Joe Bates

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