The Ethiopian fruit fly, Dacus ciliatus (Loew) (Diptera: Tephritidae), is a significant pest of cucurbit crops in Asia and Africa and is currently controlled with insecticides. The sterilizing effect of gamma radiation on D. ciliatus adults was investigated to assess the suitability of sterile insect technique (SIT) for use as an alternative, non-chemical strategy for the control of this pest. Late pupae (48 h before emergence) were irradiated with 60, 80, 100, 120, and 140 Gy of gamma rays emitted by a 60Co source. Following emergence, the biological characteristics of the experimental cohorts (including all possible male-female combinations of irradiated and untreated flies) were recorded. No significant negative effects of irradiation on pupal eclosion or the ability of newly emerged flies to fly were observed. Samples of eggs at reproductive fly-ages (12-, 15-, and 17-day-old pairs) were collected and their hatch rates were assessed. At 60 Gy, females were completely sterilized, whereas complete sterilization of the males was observed only at 140 Gy (a small amount of fertility persisted even at 120 Gy). In addition to the above experiments, three fruit infestation trials were conducted with zucchini [Cucurbita pepo L. (Cucurbitaceae)] as the plant host and the pupae produced in those trials were collected and recorded. We observed significant (ca. 10%) infestation following treatment with up to 120 Gy and zero progeny only at 140 Gy, mirroring the egg-hatch results. Our findings support the feasibility of SIT for the control of D. ciliatus.
- sterile insect technique