The diamondback moth (DBM) is one of the world’s significant agricultural pests, costing farmers billions of dollars every year. This moth pest, also called Plutella xylostella, is a non-native species in the USA. It feeds on brassica crops like canola (oilseed) and broccoli and it is notorious for its ability to develop resistance to insecticides. This means that new methods of pest control are needed that are both effective and environmentally friendly.
Oxitec is an award-winning pioneer in insect pest control with an approach that is both effective and environmentally friendly. We genetically engineer insects to use them as a tool to control populations of their own species.
Studies in the lab and greenhouse cages have shown that Oxitec DBM can be very effective at reducing pest DBM populations. For example in cage studies the pest populations were effectively controlled within 8 weeks.
The approach is toxin-free and does not target beneficial predators or insects.
The male moths only mate with their own species so the genes don’t spread. And the insects die out so the released insects and their genes do not persist in the environment.
Reducing reliance on insecticides will help beneficial insects, like bees, to thrive.
Oxitec male moths are released to mate with female moths of their own species. They pass on a pest control gene that prevents the female offspring from reaching adulthood. This reduces the number of reproductive females and the pest population in the release area shrinks. The Oxitec DBM also have a fluorescent marker (DsRed2) to identify the Oxitec moths and distinguish them from wild ones. This colour marker is used to track control of the pest population.
The Oxitec DBM has undergone extensive evaluation in lab and greenhouse studies and is ready for field trials. Oxitec provides regulators in each country with the necessary information for independent experts to evaluate the technology for potential use in their agriculture and public health programmes.