Why is Israel scattering millions of flies around Gaza?

Every week, 33 million flies are scattered from airplanes onto orchards and agricultural farmland surrounding Gaza.

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February 25, 2018 15:53
1 minute read.
Why is Israel scattering millions of flies around Gaza?

Hundreds of Mediterranean flies are seen through a net in a processing plant in El Cerinal, Guatemala March 29, 2006. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Every week, 33 million flies are scattered from airplanes onto orchards and agricultural farmland surrounding Gaza as part of a unique Agriculture Ministry project.

The planes take off with millions of male flies at the peak of their sexual maturity and drop them onto fields in an effort to naturally expel the harmful Mediterranean fruit fly, one of the world’s most destructive fruit pests.

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The male flies, which are sterile, mate with the female flies infesting the crops, thus preventing the creation of the next generation of fruit flies. Bio-Bee Biological Systems (YouTube/ gabizbio)

This process is known as the sterile insect technique, an environmentally friendly and chemical free pest control method.

The innovative project is being carried out by Bio-Bee, one of the leading international companies in the field of biologically based pest management, located in Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu in Northern Israel.

As part of the maturing process of the male flies, they undergo sterilization in a radioactive facility. When they are scattered in the air by the planes, they are exposed to the ambient temperature and spring to life ready to mate with their female counterparts, which prefer them to the male fruit flies in the fields.

The flies are scattered over an area of some 35 dunams of fields and orchards near the Gaza border.



According to estimates, the project prevents the use of some 33,000 liters of chemical pesticides that farmers would otherwise have to spray on land near cities and people, in order to carry out the pest control artificially.

According to Bio Bee, the company’s production facility, established in 2005 with support from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), was designed to produce about 15 million pupae (male fruit flies) a week, and can now produce five times this amount.

The sterile flies are only part of a series of insects that Bio Bee cultivates, including pollinating bees, predatory insects and parasites that kill pests, for eco-friendly uses to help farmers.

 

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