Sex used as weapon against moths

Wednesday 29 April 2009, 9:33AM
By Plant & Food Research

International experts discuss chemical free moth control

Christchurch, New Zealand. 29 April 2009 Insect experts from around the world will meet in New Zealand this week to discuss novel insecticide-free ways of controlling moth pests. 

Plant & Food Research is hosting global leaders in the field of moth control using the sterile insect technique at the first meeting of the United Nations Joint Food and Agriculture / International Atomic Energy Agency project in Christchurch.

 The sterile insect technique involves irradiating insects to render them infertile before releasing them into the environment. Wild insects waste time and energy mating with these numerous sterile insects, but produce no offspring, eventually leading to a reduction in the overall insect population.

 The week long meeting will include presentations by leading scientists in the field, with attendees from 14 countries. Current research is looking at controlling codling moth, a major apple orchard pest in Canada; the false codling moth in citrus orchards of South Africa; the pink bollworm, a cotton pest in south-western USA and Mexico; the diamond back moth of South East Asia; and the invasive lightbrown apple moth in USA, Australia and New Zealand. The sterile insect technique is also being applied in related projects for control of other major insect pests, such as the tsetse fly in Africa which can cause potentially fatal sleeping sickness.

 “Sterile insect technique is a preferred method of controlling insect pests without using chemical sprays, “says Dr Max Suckling. “New Zealand has successfully employed the method in the eradication of painted apple moth, and this meeting will allow us, and our global cooperative partners, to share lessons learnt and build an international programme for controlling unwanted insect populations.”

 The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations leads international efforts to defeat hunger. The IAEA is the centre of cooperation in the nuclear field, set up as the world´s "Atoms for Peace" organisation in 1957 within the United Nations family, within which the sterile insect technique programme is one of several projects looking at mobilising peaceful applications of nuclear science.


Media contact

Emma Timewell

Senior Communications Advisor


 T: +64 9 925 8692
F: +64 9 925 7001