50 years ago, flesh-eating screwworms pushed scientists to mass produce flies

Thursday, June 8, 2023 - 07:43 in Biology & Nature

Fly factory planned for Mexico — Science News, June 2, 1973 A ‘fly factory’ whose product is living flies — 300 million of them every week — is to be built in southern Mexico to help eradicate screwworms, a major livestock pest.… They feed on living host animals through open wounds or sores. The fly factory will raise millions of screwworm flies, sterilize them with radiation, and release them from low-flying aircraft to mate with native flies, producing eggs that will not hatch. Update Mexico and the United States joined forces to finally purge North America of the screwworm scourge. The fly factory opened in 1976 and legions of sterilized screwworm flies were released in both countries, including along Mexico’s Isthmus of T­ehuantepec to obstruct northerly incursions. The eradication program was so successful that it spread to Panama. By 2006, the United States, Mexico and Central America declared themselves rid of the pest. Though...

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