• English
  • العربية
  • 中文
  • Français
  • Русский
  • Español

You are here

Successful Control of the Mediterranean Fruit Fly in Jordan

1 June 2017
An IAEA and FAO supported sterile insect technique (SIT) project to control the medfly in a citrus orchard in the south Jordan Valley. In Jordan, this fruit fly species has destroyed over 60% of certain fruit crops — mainly citrus,peaches and apricots — for several years.The irradiated male pupae produced, separated from the females and sterilized in Israel are received weekly at a border point in a small box, and are transported to the Jordanian SIT Emergence Facility that was set up with IAEA and FAO support.The irradiated pupae are sealed in plastic bags; each box contains about 750,000 male pupae.The pupae bag is opened and poured into a collection container, from which small samples are collected for quality control tests.A rotating equipment that sorts out the volume of pupae to be put into paper bags.A small sample of pupae is taken for quality control tests."The pupae weight, percent emergence of sterile adult flies and flight ability are checked,” said Ahmad Abu Siam, Supervisor of the SIT Emergence Facility. At the same time, Ahmad Abu Siam prepares the liquid food mixture of agar, water and sugar for the adult sterile flies to feed on.The prepared liquid agar food mixture for the adult sterile flies is carefully poured in plastic bowls or fiberglass trays to solidify.“Once the agar turns solid, it is cut and put in the pupae emergence bags as feed for the adult sterile flies after they emerge,” said Ahmad Abu Siam.“The Jordan valley has 6000 hectares of fruit orchards and the medfly damages 60% of the fruit produced,” said Setan Al-serhan, Head of the Pest Control Division in the Ministry of Agriculture. “We are facing a serious problem and SIT has demonstrated success in the selected area. However, there is a need to expand the use of this technology to cover a wider fruit production area for the benefit of more farmers.”Ahmad Abu Siam examines the pupae samples with ‘quality control’ lab equipment provided by the IAEA.At the SIT Emergence Facility, regular quality control of the irradiated male flies is conducted. Careful attention is paid when the sterilized pupae are placed in bags that will be stored in the incubation room for six days.The pupae bags are sealed tightly before they are moved to the facility’s incubation room.Ahmad Abu Siam along with Setan Al- serhan check the incubation room — a dark room with controlled temperature — where the pupae bags are stored until the flies emerge.The lab team getting ready to transport the bags containing sterile adult male medflies to the fields for ground release.Ahmad Abu Siam preparing to release the sterilized male medflies.The sterile male flies are released to interact with the wild female medflies.The impact  of the sterilized flies will be to reduce the damage to fruit crops from the medfly and increase the fruit  yields and economic revenues for the farmers.Farmer Moufaq Bashtawi in discussion with Setan Al-serhan on how his fruit production has benefited from the SIT control method.“My farm has greatly benefited from the project, my fruits are safe from these miserable flies that had almost destroyed our livelihood,” said farmer Moufaq Bashtawi. “In this area — working in high temperatures and a dry climate are challenges but for me one big problem is solved — the ‘new technology’ has removed the medfly damage and my orchard is flourishing.”Monitoring is also conducted with medfly traps placed on trees to check every week how many are caught, said Ahmad Abu Siam. “Regular assessments help us understand how well SIT is working.”Medfly traps are placed at various points in the selected farms under the IAEA and FAO supported project.A healthy citrus fruit from the farm of Moufaq Bashtawi.At the Jordan SIT Emergence Facility, the team works hard to ensure that all the preparations are implemented for the sterilized pupae stock so that adult sterile male flies are released in a timely manner.

An IAEA and FAO supported technical cooperation project has been successful in reducing the fruit damage from the Mediterranean fruit fly (or medfly) in the Jordanian Valley due to the introduction of an integrated pest management approach based on  the sterile insect technique (SIT) — a form of birth control for flies.

SIT is a form of pest control that uses ionizing radiation to sterilize male flies that are mass-produced in special rearing facilities. The sterile males are released systematically from the ground or by air in medfly-infested areas, where they mate with wild females, which do not produce offspring.

Last update: 24 July 2019

Stay in touch