Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: August 20, 2007
Publication Date: November 14, 2007
Citation: Hight, S.D., Carpenter, J.E., Bello, A., Zetina, R. 2007. Development of the sterile insect technique to manage an invasive insect pest, cactoblastis cactorum, attacking prickly pear cactus in Quintana Roo, Mexico, and southeastern usa. Meeting Abstract. Biological Control of Weeds throughout the Americas Symposium. Technical Abstract: The most successful classical biological control of weeds program has been the control of invasive prickly-pear cactus (Opuntia spp.) by the Argentine cactus moth Cactoblastis cactorum. However, the moth has now become an invasive pest in the southeastern USA and its ability to dramatically control its host plant raises concerns for the safety and survival of the many ecologically, agriculturally, and culturally important Opuntia spp. in southwestern USA and Mexico. The sterile insect technique (SIT) has been developed for this insect as an areawide control measure. A validation/implementation study of the SIT coupled with sanitation efforts (removal of eggsticks, infested pads/larvae, and pupae) has limited the western spread of the moth. Sterile insects released in the field were highly competitive against wild moths. Competitiveness was evaluated for males by their recapture rate in pheromone-based monitoring traps and the proportion of sterile eggsticks produced as a result of sterile males mating with wild females. Continued refinement of the SIT against C. cactorum represents an opportunity to manage this biological control agent become pest. This technology is also being transferred to Mexico to assist in the removal of C. cactorum recently established on a small island off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. If implemented rapidly on new introductions, SIT can serve as an effective risk management tool to eradicate an invasive pest.