Quality control traceability during the packing and release process of Ceratitis capitata for sterile insect technique

Y. Contreras-Navarro, H. Luis-Alvarez, G. García-Coapio, R. Hernández, S. Flores and P. Montoya,  Journal of Applied Entomology,  2022.

In programmes applying the sterile insect technique (SIT), the quality of insects deployed in the field determines the success in preventing, suppressing, containing or eradicating the pest population. In the fruit fly emergence and release facility (ERF) of the Moscamed Program in Mexico, irradiated pupae of Ceratitis capitata are packed in Mexico-type towers, and key adult quality parameters, such as emergence, fliers and survival, are determined throughout the packing, handling and release process. However, different methodologies are used to estimate the percentage of fliers in the different stages of the process, raising doubts of whether observed differences are due to the effect of each stage or to the methodology used. With this in mind, we developed an alternative called ?Adult Flier device? (=AF-device) to evaluate the adult flier parameter following a critical evaluation path of five steps: (1) upon arrival at ERF, (2) post-packing, (3) post-holding, (4) post-chilling and (5) post-release, where adult fliers and survival under stress were evaluated. We also compared the current methodologies for the estimation of ?absolute fliers? available in different operating manuals. Our results suggest that the AF-device allows reliable traceability of sterile insect quality parameters throughout the packing and release process, since no significant differences were observed with the control treatments. In the chilling stage, the five methodologies tested were equivalent, but the AF-device was less time-consuming and required less manpower and biological material than the other methodological options. Our results demonstrate that the use of the AF-device can be a feasible, versatile, innovative and efficient alternative to evaluate quality control parameters throughout the process of packing and releasing sterile insects, providing reliable results in a timely manner with less hand labour using minimal biological material.

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