Location: Screwworm Research
Title: Screwworm Eradication: Current Status and Future Potential Author
Submitted to: Congresso Brasileiro de Entomologia Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: May 22, 2004
Publication Date: September 10, 2004
Citation: Skoda, S.R. 2004. Screwworm (Cochliomyia hominivorax) eradication: current status and future potential. Proceeding XX Congreso Brasileiro de Entomologia Sociedade Entomologica do Brasil. Abstract No. 109. Technical Abstract: The international effort by the Program for the Eradication of Screwworm to apply the sterile insect technique has been extremely successful. Screwworms have been eliminated from continental North America; a barrier is maintained at the Darrien Gap of Panama. From 1992 to 2003 the USDA-ARS-Midwest Livestock Insects Research Unit (MLIRU) in Lincoln, Nebraska shared responsibility with the Screwworm Research Unit (SRU) for supporting the Eradication Programs. The focus of the MLIRU was genetics and laboratory-scale rearing while the SRU focused on ecology and mass rearing. We jointly responded to requests for support by traveling to various countries in Central America and the Caribbean to evaluate perceived program problems, short term but high priority applied research problems, developing new strains of screwworm, and identifying suspicious samples suspected to be screwworm. The rearing of 14 strains of screwworm in the MLIRU's biological-secure facility supported the research and served as backup to the mass rearing facility of the screwworm eradication program: backup of the current mass production strains, should the need arise, is critical for restarting the mass rearing operation. Research at the MLIRU included developing molecular genetic techniques to differentiate screwworm from other species and to determine genetic variation of screwworms collected from various geographic locations, determining screwworm hosts in the field, cryopreservation of screwworm eggs, and both classical and transgenic techniques useful for developing a genetic sexing (male-only) strain of screwworm. Research efforts in defining habitat utilization, short and long range dispersal of screwworms, and improvements in mass rearing - along with all research responsibilities formally at the MLIRU - are included in the current research plans of the SRU. Future research activities of SRU personnel and their potential application(s) to the Eradication Program are discussed.