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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


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Title: What happened to screwworms anyway and what are you doing about them now?

item Skoda, Steven
item Phillips, Pamela
item Welch, John

Submitted to: Livestock Insect Worker's Conference Annual Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/13/2011
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Myiasis caused by screwworms, Cochliomyia hominivorax (Coquerel), is devastating to warm-blooded animals. Application of the sterile insect technique (SIT) has successfully eradicated screwworms from the U.S., Mexico, Central America and some Caribbean Islands. Annual benefits to livestock producers exceed $1 billion in the U.S. alone; annual benefits to Mexico and Central America are about $350 million and $90 million, respectively. The USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, through international agreements and formation of commissions, oversees activities of the eradication and barrier maintenance programs. Presently the Panama – U.S. Commission for Eradication of Screwworms maintains a barrier against re-invasion of screwworms in the Darien Provence of Panama. The USDA-Agricultural Research Service Screwworm Research Unit (SRU) provides basic and applied research and other technical support to these programs. Currently the SRU research efforts include: 1) determine the spatial distribution of genetic subtypes of screwworm flies; 2) develop techniques for a genetic sexing, males-only strain of screwworm; 3) determine the oviposition attractants of female screwworms; 4) investigate new trapping/surveillance for screwworms; and 5) systematically analyze the nutritional content and utilization of larval diets with a goal of developing diets with the highest quality and lowest price. Scientists of the SRU contributed technical support through developing an updated approach, and recommending equipment upgrades, for releasing sterile flies in the barrier. Also, during a recent outbreak of screwworms on the island nation of Aruba, SRU scientists received larval samples and confirmed the positive identification; used satellite imagery and GIS to select and provide optimal locations of sterile fly ground release chambers; provided expert advice to Aruban officials. Initially, SIT was considered a radical approach; ARS-SRU scientists continue to provide relevant research that answers important questions and helps maintain the efficiency of the SIT.

Last Modified: 06/24/2017
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