Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/1/2007
Publication Date: 10/1/2008
Citation: Hight, S.D., Carpenter, J.E., Bloem, S., Bloem, K.A., Floyd, J.P. 2008. Cactoblastis cactorum sterile insect technique validation study results. Meeting Abstract. CESTA 2007 Research Forum. p.24-25. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: The most successful program of classical biological control of weeds has been the control of invasive prickly-pear cactus (Opuntia spp.) by the Argentine cactus moth Cactoblastis cactorum. However, in 1989 this moth was detected in the Florida Keys and has now become an invasive pest in the southeastern USA. The moth has expanded its range and now occurs along the Atlantic Coast as far north as Charleston, South Carolina, and along the Gulf Coast as far west as Dauphin Island, Alabama. The ability of this moth to dramatically control its host plant raises concerns for the safety and survival of the many ecologically, agriculturally, and culturally important species of prickly pear in North America. To initiate control strategies for this invasiveinsect, we have developed and tested synthetic lures based on the female cactus moth sex pheromone, and identified effective trapping techniques. These technologies have been incorporated into the sterile insect technique (SIT), which is being 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) was conducted in coastal Alabama and has limited the western spread of the moth for the past 3 years. 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. If implemented rapidly on new introductions, SIT can also serve as an effective risk management tool to eradicate other new invasive pests.