Eradication of the Australian painted apple moth Teia anartoides in New Zealand: Trapping, inherited sterility, and male competitiveness

D. M. Suckling*, A. M. Barrington, A. Chhagan, A. E A Stephens, G. M. Burnip, J. G. Charles, S. L. Wee

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    87 Citations (Scopus)


    The incursion of the native Australian painted apple moth Teia anartoides Walker into Glendene, West Auckland in May 1999, prompted an area-wide eradication programme by the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Biosecurity Authority. The Australian painted apple moth is a polyphagous pest of horticulture and plantation forestry and threatened New Zealand's native vegetation. The economic and ecological impact of the moth's incursion was estimated at NZD 50-350 million (approximately USD 30.5-212.9 million) over 20 years if no action was taken to eradicate the insect. The eradication programme (1999-2006) used a combination of tactics, including the first use of the sterile insect technique (SIT) in New Zealand. The SIT component was added to the eradication programme in 2002 but releases started in 2003 as an end game tactic once the pest population was brought down to ca 1% of the population level in 2001-2002, as indicated by trap catches. The aerial spray programme using Bacillus thuringiensis (Berliner), subsp. kurstaki (Btk) accompanied by release of sterile males drove the wild population to extinction, with overflooding ratios up to 100:1 based on trapping data. Sterility was assessed from the egg hatch of the F1-F3 generations and competitiveness examined using emergence rates and wind tunnel flight performance. When males exposed to 100 or 160 Gy mated with non-irradiated females, there was no significant effect on female egg production, but a lower egg hatch was observed for both doses. When F1 and F2 offspring were outcrossed to fertile moths, 100 Gy irradiation gave relatively similar inherited sterility levels to 160 Gy, with full mortality achieved at the F3 generation. The lowest effective dose of radiation needed to induce inherited sterility is likely to offer the best competitiveness and mating success of the released males, representing a potential trade-off between sterility and competitiveness. Subsequently, the induced dominant lethal mutations carried by the released males (when mated to wild females), will be inherited through the surviving F1 proportion of the progeny. Moth emergence rate was not affected at 100 Gy, but the response to seek and mate with wild calling females in the wind tunnel was reduced by 33%. The use of wind tunnel for quality assurance in integrated pest management programmes is discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationArea-Wide Control of Insect Pests: From Research to Field Implementation
    PublisherSpringer, Springer Nature
    Number of pages13
    ISBN (Electronic)9781402060595
    ISBN (Print)9781402060588
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


    • Aerial spray
    • Australian painted apple moth
    • Btk
    • Eradication
    • Fitness
    • Sterile insect technique
    • Teia anartoides
    • Trapping
    • Wind tunnel


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