Improved Field Performance of Sterile Male Lepidoptera to Ensure Success in SIT Programmes


Lepidoptera are key pests that require control to avoid significant losses in many cropping systems worldwide. The sterile insect technique (SIT) has been used successfully against a number of moth species, but despite successes, the wider development and deployment of SIT has important issues that need further investigation. Optimal quality of the released sterile males is a prerequisite for success in SIT programs, and insect quality can be badly degraded during many processes involved with the mass-rearing and release of sterile insects.

The CRP will address important processes that need to be improved and tied to field performance of the insects. These would include:

  • improved rearing and maintenance of colonies based on selection for favourable behaviours
  • better collection and irradiation methods to enhance results
  • the application of two-sex or male-only release strategies
  • improved handling, transport and release methods
  • practical and effective methods for quality assessment
  • better deployment strategies to improve cost effectiveness and outcomes.

This objective will be met by:

  • Determining the impact of different rearing parameters and behavioural traits that have an impact on competitiveness of sterile moths, by correlation of laboratory and semi-field and open-field performance
  • Determining the impact of adult and pupal collection and irradiation methods on field competitiveness
  • Determining the effect of sterile females on population suppression
  • Determining best practice methods of handling, transporting and releasing sterile moths to maintain field competitiveness
  • Determining the relative effectiveness of different methods for quality assessment and performance of sterile and wild moths
  • Developing best practice deployment of sterile insects in relation to hotspots, taking into account moth competitiveness and field performance.


Twenty one participants, from Austria, Bangladesh, Canada, Chile, China, Guatemala, India, Israel, Mauritius, New Zeeland, Syrian Arab Republic, South Africa, Tunisia, United States of America.


  • Report of the First Research Coordination Meeting [pdf], Durban, South Africa, September 2016.

Project Officer:

Marc Vreysen