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Radiation machine for sterilization of male fruit flies


The Mediterranean Fruit Fly ("Medfly") is considered today to be the number one pest in agriculture in Israel and in major regions throughout the world. For the past five years, an experimental pilot project has been running, involving the release of sterile male flies using the SIT (Sterile Insect Technique) in the Arava Valley, as a joint Israeli-Jordanian project, in order to implement a biological control of the medfly. This project was established with JCA’s assistance. The objective now is to expand the trial to Northern Israel, in order to implement the technology throughout the country.

Until now, the major obstacle preventing widespread implementation of SIT throughout Israel has been the lack of a local rearing facility for sterile flies. In the past year, Bio-Fly Ltd. built a pilot facility for rearing sterile flies in Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu. This is the first medfly rearing facility in Israel. The current pilot facility designed to develop efficient working techniques, and to supply the requirements for flies in the Arava and for the northern pilot release project, will serve the distribution of the SIT technology in Israel.

If the Northern project succeeds, and SIT implementation expands throughout the northern region, then a bigger facility will be built (10 times the production capabilities), which will serve the agriculture in Israel, and provide the demand for flies throughout the Arava, the North, and perhaps additional agricultural areas in Israel as well.

It should be noted that Bio-Fly is not an industrial factory, but essentially an agricultural rearing facility: both its input and output are vegetative and living products, it is influenced by the growing seasons, and is defined by the authorities as "special agricultural", as are the other branches of Bio-Bee Sde Eliyahu Ltd: bumblebees for natural pollination and beneficial insects for biological pest control.

The pilot facility is currently in advanced "trial run" stages. At this stage already, it has become clear that the primary obstacle for product quality and production efficiency is a radiation machine for the flies.

Today, radiation of the flies is based on cooperation with Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem, which has the required machine. However two problems exist. The hospital is a medical/research body, not geared to providing commercial services on a regular and stable basis. In addition, the existing machine is old and of low intensity, factors which substantially increase the duration of radiation, causing a decrease in quality of the sterilized flies, and putting into question the economic feasibility of the entire production. Purchasing radiation equipment would bring an increase in product quality (which expresses itself as a higher percentage of flying sterilized flies), and will lead to a more significant decrease in the wild medfly in the field, and a decrease in cost of the product per unit area.


The  main objectives of the project are:

  • Improvement of product quality and decrease in its cost per unit area. An increase in percentage of flying sterilized flies will improve performance, and will allow the release of fewer flies per unit area in a given time, thus lowering the cost of the product and allowing its wider implementation.

  • Expansion of implementation of SIT technology against other pests as well, such as Dacus ciliatus (there is a project for this pest, but it lacks the element of sterilization)

  • Expending sources of employment in the Beit Shean Valley.

Dael Levy