Sterile Fly Release Programs

International Services (IS) facilitates international trade and fulfills APHIS' mission to prevent the spread of pests harmful to U.S. agriculture such as the New World Screwworm, Cochliomyia hominivorax, and species of the Mexican and Mediterranean fruit flies.  International Services co-sponsors these cooperative foreign pest programs through sterile fly release facilities in other countries which reduces risks of reintroducing these pests into the U.S. through exposures due to travel or international trade.

APHIS-International Services has a long history in administering sterile fly release programs, both formerly in the United States, and currently in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America with the goal of controlling these dangerous and invasive pests in the Americas. Pests we focus on are the New American Screwworm (Cochliomyia hominivorax), which is particularly dangerous to humans, pets and livestock.

Also of concern is the Mediterranean Fruit Fly (Medfly) or Mexican Fruit Fly (MexFly) which interfere with fruit production and transportation and can produce a severe negative impact on agricultural production.

APHIS International Services Action Programs Staff work primarily to maintain Sterile Fly Release Programs through sterile fly-rearing centers in Pecora, Panama; Tapachula, Mexico and in Guatemala. The fly release programs have successfully reduced the populations of the North American Screwworm, a threat to both livestock and to people, and of Mediterranean Fruit fly and Mexican Fruit Fly, species that are dangerous to agricultural produce and can severely impact saleable fresh produce. Both are considered substantial threats to U.S. agriculture as well as to the agriculture of their host countries. Suppressing the insects greatly stabilizes trade in agricultural products and the threat of reintroducing these pests to the U.S. is reduced.

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