Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS): Applications and Limitations in Area-Wide Integrated Pest Management (AW-IPM)



DATE: SEPTEMBER 25-30, 2016



  • Pink Bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella) - Post Eradication
  • Navel Orangeworm (Amyelois transitella) - Supression / Management
  • Mosquito (Aedes & Anopheles) - Research and Development
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The use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) presents Area Wide Integrated Pest Management (AW-IPM) programs with the ability to rapidly and sustainably respond to incursions of insect pests. The use of UAS has dramatically changed the scope and scale in which the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) may be utilized, however, these changes come with significant legal and regulatory limitations. This paper describes three different programs, namely, the Pink Bollworm Eradication Program, the Navel Orangeworm Management Program and Mosquito Suppression in three different phases of AW-IPM SIT applications (Post Eradication, Supression and Research and Development) in three different geographic types (Cotton, Orchards and Urban Areas), and seeks to present findings in terms of the Applications and Limitations of UAS in SIT programs.


Several Sterile Insect Technique programs rely on conventional, manned aircraft to release sterile insects with significant advancement and accomplishment achieved. The use of manned aircraft, however, presents a significant cost to the deployment of sterile insects, which may limit or otherwise eliminate the possibility of releasing sterile insects via aircraft. This paper seeks to assess the impact of release via Unmanned Aircraft Systems, discuss UAS technological abilities and limitations and finally present a discussion on the legal and public perception issues present in the use of UAS to release sterile insects.

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