About the WA-SIR Project
The Washington Sterile Insect Release (WA-SIR) project was started in the spring of 2018 to better understand the potential for use of this technique for codling moth control in Washington orchards. It is modeled on the techniques developed by the Okanagan-Kootenay Sterile Insect Release (OK-SIR) programs, which has been running successfully for over 20 years in British Columbia. In fact, the sterilized codling moths used by the project are reared in OK-SIR’s Osoyoos BC facility just north of Oroville, WA.
SIR programs in general are aimed at eradicating the target insect; this was also the original premise of the BC program. Washington growers, however, would like to use SIR as a tool for integrated pest management (IPM), and in conjunction with other techniques, especially mating disruption, but also insecticides. This change in focus requires a change in thinking, and an update on some of the scientific questions that underlie the SIR technique.
Helping the implementation of WA-SIR is the advent of a new technology for sterile moth release: Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS ) (aka ‘drones’). These devices greatly enhance the speed at which the moths can be distributed, and may be a better fit with the biology of the insect. Large acreages can be covered by air in a fraction of the amount of time it takes ATVs equipped with mist blowers to distribute the moths by driving every 3-5 orchard rows.
The project is funded by the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, in collaboration with OK-SIR, M3 Consulting, the Gut lab of Michigan State University, and the growers and fieldmen of Okanogan County.