It’s no surprise that the sterile navel orangeworm (NOW) project in Kern County needs some tweaking. Sterilized male moths in the pilot project that is releasing irradiated moths into orchards to help control overall populations are not performing well on a small scale.
UC Cooperative Extension Specialist Houston Wilson said this year they will focus on tweaking the process in hopes to increase that performance. “We want to look at how changes in the dose of irradiation might affect the performance, changes in the shipping protocol that could change the photo-period for these moths coming to California, and potentially trying out different strains of moths.”
Wilson said these challenges and changes are not out of the ordinary when starting up a sterilization process for insects. “These are common problems that you encounter with any mass rearing operation,” he said. “Many sterile insect programs globally have always had to troubleshoot these sort of issues.”