Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


A Pest That Knows No Borders

Balkan States Consider Sterile Insect Technique Against Mediterranean Fruit Fly

Fruit farmers in Southern Europe have been struggling for decades in a losing battle against the Mediterranean fruit fly, or Medfly, which is one of the world´s most destructive farm pests, since it lays its eggs in fruit and vegetables.

The female can produce up to 800 offspring per season. The larvae or worms feed on the pulp of fruits, tunnelling through it, and reducing the fruit to an inedible mush.

The battle waged by farmers in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina against the Medfly has been fought since the 1940s with insecticides. But the growing export market in the European Union imposes strict rules on pesticide residue limits in food.

So in 2007 Croatia turned to the IAEA for help to apply the most environmentally friendly alternative to insecticide - the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT). There are plans to start implementation next year.

SIT involves the sterilization of factory-reared male insects by irradiation. Millions of sterile males are hatched and then released into infested areas. When they mate with females in the wild, no offspring are produced, thereby gradually reducing and in some situations even eradicating the population. The technique is particularly effective in a confined area such as the Neretva Valley, which runs across the borders of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the migration of flies from outside into the valley is reduced.

This valley produces 80 percent of Croatia´s clementines for export. Thirty percent of them are infested by Medflies. Across the border Bosnia´s small farmers who grow peaches and plums also struggle with Medfly infestation.

"National borders mean nothing to the Medfly, so these two countries are working together on this control project which has an SIT component," says Rui Cardoso Pereira an Entomologist in the IAEA´s Insect Pest Control Section.

The Medfly, which is slightly smaller than a common housefly, originated in Africa and is now a global pest found in over 85 countries in tropical and subtropical regions.

It infests some 50 different types of fruit in the Neretva River Valley. "This area is what we call the northern limit," says Mr. Pereira. "It´s close enough to the coastal areas where the winter temperatures aren´t low enough to kill the Medfly. And this helps sustain the population, which has been wreaking havoc on plants here since the 1940s."

SIT, when integrated with other control measures, has proven to be an effective weapon against the Medfly, resulting in total eradication of this pest in Mexico, Chile and the USA. Southern Argentina, parts of Guatemala and Southern Peru have also been declared Medfly-free as a result of using this technique. Increasingly, SIT is also being used to suppress Medfly populations to acceptable levels in many regions around the world.

In the Neretva Valley project suppression is the objective as well. SIT implementation will not only dramatically cut the use of pesticides, but increase yields and the quality of available produce.

But it isn´t a quick-fix.

"Implementing this technology takes longer than insecticide application," says Mr. Pereira. "Croatia took the first two years just to collect baseline data. Not only do we need to collect statistics and do feasibility studies, but we also need to test whether or not the wild females will mate with the sterile males we are going to release. Also, to find out when the first flies appear after each winter period is key to engaging in well-oriented suppression of this pest," he said. Bosnia and Herzegovina began feasibility assessments into its Medfly population in January 2009.

"With the full involvement of the fruit industry in the valley, our counterparts in Croatia plan to begin releasing some sterile Medflies into the area in 2010," Mr. Pereira says. "Our efforts will be a success if we bring down the infestation rate in Croatia in 2011 and if crop yields increase for the poor small farmers in Bosnia and Herzegovina who are still recovering from the war."

IAEA Press Office | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Forest Management Yields Higher Productivity through Biodiversity
14.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Farming with forests
23.09.2016 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Gene therapy shows promise for treating Niemann-Pick disease type C1

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Solid progress in carbon capture

27.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>