Insects | 2021
Sterile Insect Technique Programme against Mediterranean Fruit Fly in the Valencian Community (Spain)
Simple Summary The Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata (Wied.), is one of the most destructive fruit pests in the world. In the Valencian Community, it has become a key pest affecting many fruits, but mainly citrus, the most important crop cultivated. Traditionally, control of C. capitata has been based on the use of insecticides. In line with the trend in recent years to minimize the use of insecticides and promote environment-friendly techniques, in 2007 the Department of Agriculture of Valencia implemented an area-wide integrated pest management (AW-IPM) programme for the suppression of C. capitata, in which the sterile insect technique (SIT) is the primary method of application integrated with other suppression methods. As a result, there has been a large reduction in the aerial spraying of insecticides as well as a growth trend in exports of citrus and fresh fruits from the Valencian Community in recent years. Abstract The Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata (Wied.), is an endemic pest in fruit-growing areas of the Spanish Mediterranean coast. In the Valencian Community, it represents a serious problem in the cultivation of citrus and numerous species of fruit, such as peach, cherry, apricot, persimmon, etc. For over 50 years, the Department of Agriculture of Valencia has led, promoted, and carried out a C. capitata control programme to protect crops, especially citrus fruits, because this community is the largest national producer and the leading region for fresh citrus exports in the world. Traditionally, pest control has been based on the use of insecticides. However, a reduction of more than 90% of a target wild population was achieved in the frame of a pilot integrated pest management (IPM) project based on the sterile insect technique (SIT), which was implemented from 2003 to 2006. Based on this successful result, in 2007 the Department of Agriculture of Valencia initiated an area-wide integrated pest management (AW-IPM) programme for the suppression of C. capitata, using the SIT as the primary control method. Complementary activities are implemented periodically in hotspots and during different time periods depending on the pest population dynamics. As a result, there has been a reduction of more than 90% in the use of insecticides by aerial means to control C. capitata, as well as a growth trend in exports of citrus and fresh fruits from the Valencian Community in recent years. This paper provides a historical review of the Valencian programme and briefly describes how technological innovations and decision-making tools have contributed to programme efficiency.