The competitive mating of irradiated brown marmorated stink bugs, Halyomorpha halys, for the sterile insect technique.
The sterility of eggs and nymphs from gamma-irradiated male Halyomorpha halys was investigated to determine the potential for the sterile insect technique (SIT). Males irradiated at 0, 16, 24 and 32 Gy were placed with untreated virgin females, and egg sterility was determined, showing 54.3% at 16 Gy. The percentage of sterility from irradiation was 26 percent lower than previous results from the USA and the variance was very high. Competitive overflooding ratio trials between irradiated virgin males and fertile virgin males at a 5:1 ratio resulted in the expected egg sterility, indicating competitive performance by irradiated males. By July and August, older, irradiated overwintered males were significantly less competitive than similar, non-irradiated males. There is a need to revisit the irradiation delivery method to achieve proper precision around the paternal dose required for an expected >80% egg sterility and subsequent ~99% endpoint sterility estimated at adult emergence in the F1 phase. These results suggest that the mating competitiveness and competency of males after irradiation at 16 Gy is not limiting to the sterile insect technique for suppression. A wild harvest of overwintering males using the aggregation pheromone, followed by irradiation and male release, might replace rearing. Mass-collected, sterilized bugs could be transported from an area of high H. halys density and shipped for release to enable suppression or eradication elsewhere. This concept is under development but further work is needed now to understand the difference in results between the US and Italian irradiators and increase the reliability of dosimetry.