This post is based on an great article in the 2017 Winter Edition of the British Columbia Organic article titled “40 Years of Thinking Like an Insect“. This is not new information, but it is a great story about the primary pest of apples and pears in BC over the last 100+ years.
This article discusses Gary Judd’s work with the Sterile Insect Release (SIR)Program, Sterile Insect Technology (SIT) and Mating Disruption at the Agriculture Canada Research Station in Summerland BC . This work completely changed the way Codling Moths were and are controlled in commercial orchards in the Okanagan, Similkameen and Creston Valleys in British Columbia, and recently Washington State. I was involved with the roll out of the SIR program in the Creston Valley during the early 1990’s.
I also have a special place in my heart for the SIR program, I was employed as a summer student at Summerland Research Station in 1971 with the research that lead to this program. The SIR program started in 1972. My summer work was to trap Codling Moths in research plots in the South Okanagan and Similkameen Valley areas. 1971 was the year the Codling moth pheromone (female sex scent) was identified. Once identified this pheromone was manufactured for use in monitoring traps and dispensers in SIR, SIT and MD. Since this pheromone was not available for use in 1971, I spent that summer sexing Codling Moths reared by Agriculture Canada entomologists and placing 10 females moths into a small cage with a supply of water inside each trap. These females released the pheromone that fatally attracted male moths into the sticky traps. Once a week I drove to the research plots (usually abandoned orchards), collected the traps from the previous week and placed the new traps loaded with fresh females in the trees. Back at the Entomology Laboratory I counted the wild and released sterile moths(covered with UV fluorescing dust).
20 years later the SIR program was commercialized by the Okanagan Valley Tree Fruit Authority leading to a dramatic reduction in the use of insecticides in the Okanagan, Similkameen and Creston Valleys.
Gary Judd’s research lead to Mating disruption and other techniques in use in organic and conventional commercial orchards in the BC Interior and many other areas, including Coastal British Columbia.