The sterile insect technique (SIT) is widely used to suppress or eradicate target pest insect populations. Although the effectiveness of SIT depends on the ability of released sterile males to mate with and inseminate wild females, the use of gamma radiation to induce sterility negatively impacts reproductive cells as well as somatic cells. Consequently, sterilization by irradiation drastically diminishes mating performance over time. In the current study, we evaluated the effect of irradiation dose intensity on fertility, mating propensity, and mating competitiveness in sweetpotato weevil, Cylas formicarius elegantulus (Summers) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), for 16 d after irradiation. Although the mating propensity of males irradiated with 200 Gy, the dose currently used to induce complete sterility of C. f. elegantulus in the SIT program in Okinawa Prefecture, was equal to that of nonirradiated weevils for the first 6 d, the mating propensity of males irradiated with doses between of 75 and 150 Gy was maintained for the first 12 d. The potential fertilization ability of weevils was highly depressed compared with the control weevils, even in those treated with 75 Gy. Mating performance was severely compromised in weevils that were irradiated with a dose of 100 Gy or more. These results demonstrate that partial sterilization can be highly advantageous in eradication programs for the sweetpotato weevil. We discuss the advantages of the application of partial irradiation in insect eradication programs.
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Vol. 103 • No. 6