Aedes albopictus Sterile Male Production: Influence of Strains, Larval Diet and Mechanical Sexing Tools

M. Malfacini, A. Puggioli, F. Balestrino, M. Carrieri, M. L. Dindo and R. Bellini,  Insects,  2022.

The sterile insect technique (SIT) is a biologically based method of pest control, which relies on the mass production, sterilization, and release of sterile males of the target species. Since females can transmit viruses, it is important to develop a mass rearing system to produce a large number of males with a low presence of females. We evaluated the effects of different strains, larval diets and sexing tools on male productivity and residual female presence for the application of SIT against Aedes albopictus. Strains coming from Italy, Germany, Greece, and Montenegro, with different levels of colonization, were reared with three larval diets: IAEA-BY, BLP-B and SLP-BY. Developed pupae were sexed using two different mechanical methods: sieve or Fay-Morlan separator. The results proved that adoption of the Fay-Morlan separator increased the productivity and limited the female presence. The IAEA-BY diet showed the lowest female contamination. Strains with a high number of breeding generations showed a decreased productivity and an increased female presence. Increased female presence was found only in extensively reared strains and only when the sorting operation was conducted with sieves. We hypothesize that extensive colonization may determine a size reduction which limits the sexing tool efficiency itself.

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