A PERSONAL ACCOUNT OF DEVELOPING THE STERILE INSECT TECHNIQUE TO ERADICATE THE SCREWWORM FROM CURACAO, FLORIDA AND THE SOUTHEASTERN UNITED STATES

Alfred H. Baumhover

Abstract


The history is recounted of developing the sterile insect technique to eradicate the screwworm, Cochliomyia hominivorax (Coquerel), from the Caribbean island of Curacao, Florida and the southeastern U.S. Observations of screwworm biology and challenges faced in conducting these eradication projects are described by the author who worked on all aspects of the research and field operations. Eradication was first demonstrated on Curacao, essentially a 170 mi2 outdoor laboratory. The population dynamics of the wild screwworm was determined and overflooding ratios and dispersal patterns essential for population suppression were defined. Eradication was achieved with minimal resources by attacking the pest during the time of year when it is least abundant. In Florida, eradication was greatly facilitated by an unusually cold winter that reduce the range and density of the target population. Eradication could not be attained easily by only suppressing the reproduction of adult screwworms. The larval population also had to be reduced to increase the ratio of sterile to wild males. It was essential to control the immature stages by diligent inspection and treatment of animal wounds. Leadership of the cattle producers was critical not only for securing program resources from the clientele, state legislatures and U.S. Congress, but also for gaining the cooperation of virtually all livestock owners. Additionally, leadership was required to acquire adequate research, extension and public information resources. Lessons learned from this work were corroborated repeatedly as the screwworm eradication program moved into the Southwest, Mexico and the Central America.View this article in BioOne

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