Armyworm meets Friendly moth

M. Francisco,  Nature Biotechnology,  39:532-532. 2021.

The fall armyworm moth, a pest so named for its caterpillar’s invasive and destructive behavior, may now have to contend with a ‘Friendly’ foe. UK-based Oxitec and agbiotech giant Bayer have jointly developed a genetically modified variety to combat the fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda), an insect pest causing severe destruction to corn, rice and sorghum crops in more than 100 countries. Brazil has approved field trials of the GM ‘Friendly’ fall armyworm moths. The technology, originally developed at Oxford University, uses male self-limiting fall armyworm moths. When males are released into infested areas, the moths mate with wild females, but as they produce no female offspring in the next generation, this reduces the population of crop-eating caterpillars. The approach is species specific, is self-limiting in the environment, and has no impact on beneficial insects such as bees. Oxitec has successfully used the technology with mosquitoes to control dengue and Zika in Brazil, and is currently releasing Friendly mosquitoes in the Florida Keys as part of a US Environmental Protection Agency trial. Though some groups remain opposed to the technology, most experts agree that GMOs must be part of an integrated pest management solution, in addition to rotating crops, encouraging the growth of a pest’s natural predators, and using pesticides selectively to mitigate resistance buildup.

More related to this:

Oxitec Receives Landmark Biosafety Approval for New Fall Armyworm Control Solution

Transgenic moths released to end one of the worst pests on the planet

Genetically engineered moths have been released into the wild to wipe out pests

History of the Sterile Insect Technique

Combined Effects of Mating Disruption, Insecticides, and the Sterile Insect Technique on Cydia pomonella in New Zealand

First genetically modified mosquitoes released in US