Sterile Insect Technology to reduce sheep blowfly numbers on Kangaroo Island is the aim of a new project led by researchers at SARDI.
Following a feasibility study, funded through Meat & Livestock Australia in 2020, the SIT approach is expected to significantly decrease flystrike and growing chemical resistances.
SIT aims to provide an alternative solution to combat the often-fatal condition and improve animal welfare while lowering management costs.
Management costs and losses from flystrike in SA are about $60 million a year.
The rearing facility will be installed on KI this spring. The modular and mobile facility is designed to produce the millions of sterile flies required for the intended eradication of Sheep Blowfly from KI in the next four years.
This production of sterile flies will be scaled up in the coming two years to reach 50m flies a week, allowing the release of sterile flies in late winter to early spring.
When sterile males mate with wild female flies, no fertile eggs are produced.
SARDI researcher Maarten van Helden says the key to the system is to produce and release enough sterile male flies to outnumber the wild fertile males.
The rearing of the flies is relatively simple in the laboratory but moving to an industrial production will be the focus in the next 12 months.
The creation of the rearing facility and initial SIT technology development is part of the Local Economic Recovery Program, a partnership project with the Kangaroo Island community and PIRSA, jointly funded by the SA and Commonwealth governments under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements, and led by SARDI through the University of Adelaide affiliate partnership.
Industry funding will allow the roll-out of SIT on KI in the coming years.
The facility at the Kangaroo Island Resource Recovery Centre site will be located near the Kingscote airport to allow for a smooth production and aerial release of flies across the island.
Once this project is successful, the KI facility will have provided invaluable data on fly ecology and methodology for future use of SIT as a method of preventing flystrike on the SA mainland.
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