A team of Australian scientists has invested countless hours ensuring sterile fruit flies are fit and attractive to native flies, encouraging them to ‘mate’ without producing offspring, limiting the spread of wild Queensland Fruit Fly (QFF) populations.
The SITPlus program is a national long-term strategic research and development partnership, delivering an integrated pest management solution for QFF. Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) is a method of pest control using the area-wide release of sterile insects to reduce reproduction in a wild-population of the same species.
The SITPlus pilot program will continue to release two million sterile QFF over Cobram each week through until April 2020, in a bid to disrupt the pest and reduce its spread. The Goulburn Murray Valley Regional Fruit Fly Project supports the pilot program, which has been led by Macquarie University.
The Cobram release is the first time the $60 million program, which aims to curb the spread of QFF, has moved into Victoria and NSW for full trials, following the successful releases of sterile flies in South Australia over the past year. Scientists will monitor QFF movement, longevity in the field, impact on crops and the wild population, with the weekly mass drop, taking place from a customised aircraft.