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Ongoing project

Pilot sterile codling moth releases for the apple industry (AP18001)

Key research provider: Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture

What’s it all about?

This investment is investigating the feasibility of using ‘sterile insect technology’ (SIT) in the control of codling moths in Australian apple orchards.

SIT has been used in parts of Canada to reduce wild moth populations and pesticide use, and is also being trialled in New Zealand. The approach involves producing sterile male codling moths, which are developed to be fit and attractive to wild females. Released into orchards, the sterile moths compete for females, helping stop the wild moth population from successfully breeding.

Following this project’s feasibility investigation, pilot releases of sterile codling moths will be used to assess the effectiveness of the approach in controlling wild populations, and to develop guidelines and recommendations for incorporating sterile moth releases into existing pest management programs across the country.

The project is now back on track following two years on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The import permit was approved in April 2022, and the conditions of the permit allow for the importation of Cydia pomonella (Codling moth) which have been sterilised by gamma irradiation treatment at the Okanagan-Kootenay Sterile Insect Release (OKSIR) facility, located in Canada. Imported material can only be used for direct release into the environment for biological control use and is limited to the apple orchard field sites in South Australia and Tasmania that are part of the sterile insect release research program.
 
Now that flight timetables are becoming more reliable, small trial shipments of sterile codling moths are being organised with OKSIR to ensure that freight logistics and biosecurity control at both national and state borders are sorted prior to the field releases that are scheduled to begin in November.

Related levy funds
Details

This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Apple and Pear Fund