Development of female medfly attractant systems for trapping and sterility assessment


To develop new synthetic female medfly attractants and to determine their efficacy compared to proteinaceous baits under different weather, host-tree and population density conditions.


Practical application of the sterile insect technique (SIT) against major insect pests will continue to increase as the repeated use of insecticides is recognized as an environmental problem. In the case of the Mediterranean fruit fly (medfly), which attacks over 300 species of fruits and vegetables in tropical, subtropical, and temperate climates on all five continents, control is still largely based on frequent insecticide spraying, often more than 10 sprays per fruiting season.

Methods for population estimation, which accurately reflect changes due to movement, mortality or reproduction, are a prerequisite for effective pest management and in particular for use of SIT. With better monitoring tools medfly populations can be estimated more accurately and compared under different conditions, to guide decisions on alternative (i.e. more effective and more environment-friendly) control strategies.

On the other hand, following the development of male only genetic sexing strains at the FAO/IAEA Agriculture and Biotechnology Laboratories in Seibersdorf, Austria, it was recognized that the development of a female medfly targeted trapping system, in conjunction with only male sterile releases, would improve the efficacy of the SIT, reduce costs, and more effectively utilized sterile males.

Tests were carried out by researchers in fourteen different countries and climates in northern and southern Africa, southern Europe, Central and South America and the Indian Ocean. The production of fruits preferred by the medfly is important in all countries where tests were conducted.

Results reflect major progress made in achieving the above objectives, which have resulted in a commercial female medfly lure already in use not only in operational SIT control and eradication programmes, but also in conventional monitoring and even mass trapping. These results will be of help to all plant protection, pest control and quarantine workers in the tropics and subtropics, where the medfly is a major pest or has the potential to become established.


Fifteen participating countries: Argentina, Austria, Costa Rica, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Mexico, Morocco, South Africa, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, United Kingdom, and USA.


  • The final Evaluation Report summarizes achievements under this six-year CRP (1994 -1999).
  • The final proceedings on TECDOC-1099 [pdf] summarizes achievements under this 5-year CRP (1994 - 1999).