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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Tifton, Georgia » Crop Protection and Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #120810


item Carpenter, James
item Bloem, K
item Bloem, Stephanie

Submitted to: Florida Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/1/2001
Publication Date: 12/1/2001
Citation: Carpenter, J.E., Bloem, K.A., Bloem, S. 2001. Applications of F1 sterility for research and management of Cactoblastis cactorum (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae). Florida Entomologist. 84(4):531-536.

Interpretive Summary: The cactus moth, Cactoblastis cactorum, was unintentionally introduced into Florida in approximately 1989. Larvae of this insect feed exclusively on cactus, thus there is concern for the rare, native cactus species in the Florida Keys and the potential for spread of the cactus moth to the Southwestern U.S. and Mexico. One potential means of controlling the cactus moth would be the introduction of exotic natural enemies. However, considerable research would be necessary to insure that the introduced natural enemies only attack the cactus moth and did not negatively impact other species of moths and butterflies, which might jeopardize future biological control programs. Another potential means of control is through treating moths with low doses of radiation which results in the production of sterile offspring. In this paper we discuss several options for the use of this type of sterility to study, predict and manage the expanding populations of the cactus moth.

Technical Abstract: The unintentional arrival of the cactus moth, Cactoblastis cactorum, in Florida has raised concerns for the safety of native and rare Opuntia species in the Florida Keys and the potential spread of C. cactorum to the Opuntia-rich areas of the western U.S. and Mexico. In addition to threatening the biodiversity of these native ecosystems, the negative publicity from such nontarget effects could heighten public concern over the use of exotic natural enemies and jeopardize future biological control programs against weeds. In this paper we discuss the use of inherited (F1) sterility in Lepidoptera to study, predict and manage the expanding populations of C. cactorum. Research areas in which the use of F1 sterility would be most applicable include (1) elucidation of the host range of C. cactorum for key native Opuntia species from across the U.S., (2) prediction of the geographic range of C. cactorum in the U.S. and Mexico, and (3) delineation of the impact of native natural enemies on the spread of C. cactorum. The use of F1 sterility for control of C. cactorum would be most appropriate for (1) eradication of C. cactorum from areas of new introductions, or from isolated and/or environmentally sensitive areas such as the Florida Keys, (2) establishment of a barrier through the release of irradiated moths along the leading edge of the C. cactorum geographical range, and (3) provisioning sterile C. cactorum as hosts in the field to increase the initial survival and establishment of released natural enemies.