Codling moth control efforts earn recognition

Sterile Insect Release program nominated for an Integrated Pest Management Achievement Award.

The Okanagan-Kootenay Sterile Insect Release (OKSIR) Program has been nominated for an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Achievement Award, to be awarded this spring at the 8th International IPM Symposium in Salt Lake City, Utah, March 23 to 26.

The OKSIR program has been successfully controlling codling moths in the apple and pear growing areas of the Okanagan and Similkameen areas for more than 20 years.

The program has been garnering a lot of international interest from areas and companies looking to recreate its success with codling moths (USA, New Zealand, France), or looking to use its approaches with other pests (Switzerland, France).

The program operates from Salmon Arm to Osoyoos, and into the Similkameen Valley, under the direction of general manager Cara Nelson.

“It’s an honour to be formally recognized by the international integrated pest management community,” Nelson said.

“Our whole valley can be proud of the OKSIR program—not just for the amount of pesticides kept out of the environment because the program is in place, but also for the support it provides for our fruit growers, who are important to our local economy and our Okanagan way of life.”

Since the beginning of the program, the amount of pesticides used against codling moth has been reduced by 96 per cent, Nelson said.

Many orchardists in the valley have not had to spray their trees for codling moth for the last 15 years.  If a chemical spray is required, most growers need only use a single well-timed application, instead of the three or more they needed prior to the program’s implementation.

Fred Steele, president of the British Columbia Fruit Grower’s Association, said about the OKSIR program in his letter of support for the nomination: “The Okanagan-­Kootenay Sterile Insect Release program is an asset for both our pome fruit growers and the residents of the valleys that live near and amongst the orchards…The success of the program has led to other local fruit industries, including cherry and grape growers, expressing interest in applying the area-­wide approach to their own pests.”

OKSIR staff spend the spring and summer releasing sterile codling moths in apple and pear orchards.  These sterile moths attract and mate with wild moths.  Because the released moths have been sterilized, they can’t produce healthy eggs—the eggs can’t hatch, so the fruit is not damaged, and the moth population doesn’t increase.

The Achievement Award winner will be announced in February.  Nelson will give a presentation at the International IPM Symposium as a part of a session organized by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The session will focus on the role of partnerships and stakeholder collaboration in the success of region-wide IPM programs.

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