New Zealand's first ant-sniffing canine is training for battle against hordes of Argentine invaders.
Local biosecurity experts hope Welsh springer spaniel Rhys Jones will soon hunt Argentine ants.
"He's about halfway through his training and he's ticking all the boxes," said Auckland Council biosecurity manager Jack Craw.
The dog's trainer, Brian Shields, said Argentine ants were notorious for attacking native bird species. "They suck the eyeballs out and eat [the birds] from the inside out," Shields said.
Rhys Jones will work on finding pheremone trails the ants leave when moving from their nests to food sources. "When he smells one, he'll sit and get a reward," Shields said.
The small, light-brown ant, Linepithema humile, arrived here in 1990. Known to form super-colonies covering thousands of square kilometres, the ants have also decimated native snail, lizard and insect populations from Northland to Christchurch.