By Leonardo Gottems, reporter for AgroPages
The Chilean Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG) is testing the use of sterile insects to control fruit flies (Ceratitis capitata) - one of the most feared plagues in the Chilean agriculture industry, which mobilizes much attention in this South American country. Five million male sterile flies are being released weekly in strategic locations.
Monitoring began in early February with a SAG campaign in 15,000 traps that make up the surveillance system across the country. As soon as the presence of fruit flies was detected, an emergency plan for their elimination was immediately activated.
In order to monitor the pest, the SAG carried out more than 3,000 revisions to the additional traps it installed, having visited more than 9,000 properties in which samples of fruit have been taken, analyzing about 2 tons in specialized laboratories and unloading almost 7 tons of fresh fruits in the committed areas.
The Sterile Insect Technique is one of the most effective ways to combat the fruit fly, as it is an environmentally friendly form of biological control that is used in many parts of the world, including the United States, Australia and Japan, and has been successfully used in Chile since 1993 in the city of Arica, being a measure of the permanent control of this pest, since it can be used in a preventive way.
As part of the current fruit fly campaign, officials of the SAG installed kraft paper bags in some fruit trees, which contain sterile fruit fly pupae. There, they feed for a few days, are born and, once mature, they go out into the environment to compete with the wild males. They, when copulating with fertile females, have no offspring, thus interrupting the reproduction cycle.
The benefits of using this technique are enormous, as it does not alter the routines of those living in the sector, there is no risk to the health of people, plants, or animals, and it is an ecological form of agricultural pest control. That is why it is essential that citizens do not manipulate the bags and allow the entry of properly identified SAG officials to carry out the various tasks linked to the campaign against this pest.