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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: HIGHER DIPTERA PESTS OF LIVESTOCK AND POULTRY: SCREWWORM FLIES

Location: Screwworm Research

Title: Area-wide control of insects with screwworm as an example

Author
item Skoda, Steven

Submitted to: Symposium Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: March 16, 2013
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The red palm weevil is a major pest of date palm production in Saudi Arabia, the Mediterranean, and Near East to Southeast Asia. A conference, held in Saudi Arabia, focused on the development of new biological and biotechnological strategies for the control of red palm weevil. This presentation focuses on development of area-wide integrated pest management (AW-IPM) against red palm weevil as illustrated through the successful application of the sterile insect technique (SIT) to eradicate screwworms from North America. Before implementing SIT against screwworms there was considerable research into their general biology, including the development of methods for mass rearing and sterilizing the screwworm. Research was continued throughout the program so to adjust to changing environments and situations; in fact research continues to this day so to provide biologically reasonable and economic solutions to changing conditions of the program. Also, before implementing SIT against screwworms on a large scale, a pilot test was conducted wherein the technique was validated and program adjustments were developed. Finally, overwhelming producer support was obtained which lead to support from the governments of the affected States and the U.S. Government. Before eradication of screwworms from North America was achieved it was necessary to negotiate international/inter-governmental agreements that allowed for standardized and synchronized program application. As was practiced when implementing SIT, implementing a successful AW-IPM program requires thorough understanding of the pest’s biology, knowledge of the economic impact of the pest and customer and stakeholder support. Although logistically complex and managerially intensive, overall the AW-IPM approach requires fewer inputs and pest control is usually more effective and sustainable.

Technical Abstract: Screwworms, Cochliomyia hominivorax (Coquerel), are devastating pests of warm blooded animals. They have been eradicated from continental North America using the sterile insect technique (SIT). Proper implementation of SIT is an example of the requirements of area-wide control of insect pests. Area-wide integrated pest management (AW-IPM) involves "careful consideration of all available pest control techniques and subsequent integration of appropriate measures that discourage the development of pest populations and keep pesticides and other interventions to levels that are economically justified and reduce or minimize risks to human health and the environment" (from FAO/IAEA website). The SIT program for the control of screwworms resulted in the insect pest population being taken to zero; for many other pests there is an economic level to which control is satisfactory. Controlling insect pests before they surpass the economic level requires consideration of agro-ecologic and socio-economic conditions. Therefore planning and ecological understanding are critical to success; also required are long-term commitments and coordinated implementation by farmers and all other stakeholders. Before implementing SIT against screwworms there was considerable research into their general biology, including the development of methods for mass rearing and sterilizing the screwworm. Research was continued throughout the program so to adjust to changing environments and situations; in fact research continues to this day so to provide biologically reasonable and economical solutions to changing conditions of the program. Also, before implementing SIT against screwworms on a large scale, a pilot test was conducted wherein the technique was validated and program adjustments were developed. Finally, overwhelming producer support was obtained which lead to support from the governments of the affected States and the U.S. Government. Before eradication of screwworms from North America was achieved it was necessary to negotiate international/inter-governmental agreements that allowed for standardized and synchronized program application. Although logistically complex and managerially intensive, overall the AW-IPM approach requires fewer inputs and pest control is usually more effective and sustainable. As an example, the use of SIT against screwworms has cost about $1.3 billion (U.S.) through 2005 (about 48 years of application) but the economic gain/value to cattle producers (not including the impact on other livestock, pets, wildlife or humans) is over $1.3 billion (U.S.) annually (so about 50:1 benefit:cost ratio).

Last Modified: 9/22/2014
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