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Israel’s Gaza Belt: Sterilized fruit flies air-dropped

Some 33 million sterilized male flies a week will be dropped by plane over 3,500 hectares of orchards along the Gaza Belt in a bid to rid the area of the Mediterranean Fruit Fly.

Fruit fly larvae will be stored in the planes at a low temperature in a state of unconsciousness; they will come to life as soon as they are exposed to ambient temperatures.

Once freed over the fields the sterilized flies, which are at the height of their sexual maturity, will search for female fruit flies and mate with them, after which the females will produce sterile eggs.

According to an article by jewishpress.com, the sterilized flies will be dropped over the orchards twice a week in large concentrations, so that there will be 50 sterilized flies for every non-sterilized fly, reducing the probability that a female fly will mate with a fertile male to almost zero.

In the event that the planes cannot fly over the Gaza Belt because of security reasons or bad weather, the flies can be released from vans. The project is expected to save the use of 33,000 litres of chemical pesticides that would have to been used to get rid of the flies artificially.

Publication date: 2/26/2018


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