Developing methods for chilling, compacting, and sterilizing adult Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae) and comparing mating competitiveness between males sterilized as adults versus pupae for sterile male release

D. A. Tussey, R. Morreale, D. O. Carvalho, S. Stenhouse, A. M. Lloyd, D. F. Hoel and D. A. Hahn,  Journal of Medical Entomology,  2023.

The yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti L., can transmit several pathogens responsible for human diseases. With insecticide resistance development becoming a concern, alternative control strategies are needed for Ae. aegypti. Sterile insect technique (SIT) is an increasingly popular option being explored. However, logistical issues in mass production and sterilization make it difficult to maintain a SIT program. Male mosquitoes are typically irradiated as pupae because this is the earliest developmental point at which females can be separated from males, but asynchrony in pupation and high variability in pupal responses to irradiation based on pupal age make it difficult to sterilize mass quantities of pupae on a regular schedule in a rearing facility. Young adult mosquitoes have wider windows for irradiation sterilization than pupae, which can allow facilities to have fixed schedules for irradiation. We produced a workflow for adult Ae. aegypti irradiation in a mosquito control district with an operational SIT program that currently irradiates pupae. The impacts of chilling, compaction, and radiation dose on survival were all assessed before combining them into a complete adult irradiation protocol. Males chilled up to 16 h prior to compaction and compacted to 100 males/cm3 during radiation resulted in low mortality. Males irradiated as adults had increased longevity and similar sterility compared to males irradiated as pupae. Additionally, males sterilized as adults were more sexually competitive than males sterilized as pupae. Thus, we have shown that irradiating adult males can be a viable option to increase the efficiency of this operational mosquito SIT program.

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