Europe, particularly in Spain, Greece and Italy, accounts for 80% of the world’s production of olives and olive oil. In many olive-growing areas in the Mediterranean, the sole agricultural income comes from the olive crop. The olive fly has a serious impact on the local economy. Olive fly infestation, even at low levels, makes table olives unmarketable and adversely affects the acidity, and hence quality and value of olive oil.
Current control methods against olive fly rely overwhelmingly on the use of chemical insecticides. Olive fly females inject their eggs directly into the fruit, making it very difficult to kill the larvae – they are never exposed outside the fruit, so fruit-penetrating toxins must be used. Several useful insecticides have been, or are being, phased out due to concerns about their negative impact on the environment or human health. Insecticide-resistance is reducing the effectiveness of the chemicals used. The cost of chemicals is also high. For example, in Greece approximately €35 million is spent annually on control of olive fly to prevent estimated losses to the industry (if no such spend) of €650 million. Some alternative control methods such as pheromone disruption, various lures and traps and the fruit fly parasite, Psyttalia concolor, have been also used to control olive fly but these methods have generally had little success, especially when population density is high.
OX3097D is a female-specific Oxitec strain. It can be used for population suppression without the need to irradiate insects. It also provides accurate separation of the sexes, allowing a 100% male release. Our Olive Fly strains have now undergone contained trials with excellent results and they are now ready for open field trials and evaluation by third parties.