Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata)
The Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly) is a hugely destructive agricultural pest, attacking more than 250 kinds of fruits, nuts and vegetables. It is found throughout Africa, South and Central America, the Mediterranean and parts of Australia, causing widespread damage and a severe economic impact on growers.
Medfly is difficult to control with existing methods and some tools used in the past are not always available today. For example the insecticide fenthion, used to control fruit fly in Australia, was recently banned in the country after assessment showed that it may “pose undue risks to human health and the environment.”
Read more about how our solution works here.
Our self-limiting Medfly has been assessed in contained studies in the UK, Greece, Brazil, Morocco and Australia. This research has shown that it can be very effective at reducing pest populations: in cage studies, pest populations were effectively eliminated within 12 weeks. Trials have also demonstrated that releases of our male Medfly resulted in an increased yield of marketable fruit compared to treatment with the leading insecticide. Our product therefore has the potential to be more cost-effective for the same level of control provided.
We have been working closely with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) to test our self-limiting Medfly.
In a 2016 study, DPIRD compared the mating performance of our Medfly with that of insects sterilized with radiation, to examine whether our solution offered an improved option for industry to control Medfly. As reported by DPIRD, the mating performance of our Medfly “was comparable with that of sterile males irradiated at low levels, and exceeded that of sterile males treated with a higher dose of radiation which is used to provide a better guarantee of sterility.”
DPIRD is now in consultation with Australian Government regulatory bodies to begin testing our Medfly in open-field trials.
- What kind of crop does it damage?
Attacks more than 250 kinds of fruits, nuts and vegetables. Prefers succulent fruit like melons, peaches, tomatoes and apples.
- How does it damage them?
Female Medfly lay their eggs under the skin of ripening fruit. Larvae eat the flesh of the fruit making it unsaleable and leaving tunnels which help bacteria and fungus to invade.
- Where is it found?
Africa, South and Central America, the Mediterranean, Western Australia and Hawaii. Periodic infestations have occurred in the southern and western United States.
- What are the economic costs?
In Western Australia alone, Medfly costs growers more than AU$10 million/year to control.