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The red-dyed casings of the Mediterranean Fruitflies Pupae wait to be processed at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Sarasota Sterile Insect Rearing Facility, April 17, 2019, in Sarasota, Fla., handles 100,000,000 flies a week.

Plant Protection and Quarantine releases sterile adult Medflies over the highest-risk urban areas of the state (approximately 633 square miles) in Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Broward Counties. The target release rate is 125,000 flies/square mile/week. One-hundred million irradiated pupae are received weekly from Guatemala, eclosed at the Sterile Insect Release Facility (SIRF), and released by airplane from an altitude of 1600-2000 feet. These pupae are temperature-sensitive lethal (tsl) strain, rendering the flies released 99.8% male.

New Sterile Insect Release Facility in Sarasota, FL: This facility supports the Medfly Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) Preventive Release Program (PRP), and is the work unit for 24 personnel. The Sarasota PRP was initiated in 2002 in an old ice cream factory, but due to the need to replace the existing aging SIRF, solicitations for a new facility (~30,000 square feet) began in spring 2015 and a lease was awarded in fall 2015 for a new facility located north of the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. Ground-breaking for this facility took place in November 2016 and USDA accepted the building on July 23, 2018. This is the first time a facility like this has been built in the continental U.S. The objective is to facilitate and improve efficiency and effectiveness of the program for years to come.

USDA Photo by Preston Keres. Original public domain image from Flickr

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The red-dyed casings of the Mediterranean Fruitflies Pupae wait to be processed at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Sarasota Sterile Insect Rearing Facility, April 17, 2019, in Sarasota, Fla., handles 100,000,000 flies a week.

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