Orchards in the US and elsewhere have been trying to head off a disease called citrus greening. Research shows that dogs can sniff out this disease better and more quickly than any other method we have. Plus: if you’re out riding a horse in Australia, and you get a call, put the phone in hands-free mode.

Dog sleuths sniff out crop disease hitting citrus trees (KCRA)

Man riding horse stopped by police for using phone (Weekly Times Now)

Outside of a dog Cool Weird Awesome’s Patreon backers are a person’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to back anything. 

On this show we try to sniff out the most interesting developments of our age.

One of them is a new project in which dogs can use their keen sense of smell to help citrus farmers.

Sense of smell is a superpower for most dogs.

That’s why they’re used to sniff out explosives or drugs at the airport (when they’re not busy running at every other dog in the area and sniffing them, anyway).

With training, dogs can sniff out all sorts of scents that can be hard for humans and our high-tech devices to detect.

And that may be very useful for orchards in the U.S. and elsewhere as they try to head off a disease called citrus greening.

Tiny insects spread bacteria that infects the trees and changes the color, shape and taste of the fruit.

They aren’t dangerous to humans, but the fruits are of no use to farmers or juice companies once they’re infected.

And so far there’s no cure, so early detection is the only way to slow its spread.

In a study published in the Proceedings of National Academies of Sciences, dogs trained to sniff out plants affected by citrus greening could tell the difference between healthy and infected plants 95 percent of the time.

And they can spot the disease long before it can be seen on tree leaves or in roots.

Another mystery solved by dogs, though I don’t expect that these little disease-carrying bugs will turn to the canines and shout “I would’ve gotten away with it if it wasn’t for you meddling kids!”

Meanwhile, some animal news you can use out of New South Wales, Australia, where police stopped a man for using his cellphone while riding a horse.

The authorities said legally the horse can be classified as a vehicle, and when you’re using a phone in a vehicle it has to be hands-free.

Now you know.