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Field demonstration of the Sterile Fly Release technology for onion maggot management in onion set production in Ontario

Project Code: PRR18-010

Project Lead

Anne-Marie Fortier - Phytodata


Conduct a demonstration trial using the Sterile Fly Release technology in an Ontario onion set field for onion maggot control, and; gain knowledge on the distribution and population dynamics of Delia spp. in this region.

The onion maggot (Delia antiqua) is a major insect pest of Allium crops which include onions, green onions and shallots. Options for managing this pest are limited and some populations of onion maggot are beginning to show resistance to currently registered products. In addition some products relied on for control are under re-evaluation by the regulator.

The Sterile Fly Release (SFR) technique is a reduced risk approach that has been adapted and implemented in Quebec and has shown good results managing onion maggot while maintaining onion yields. The technique consists of:

In 2017, SFR was practiced in over 680 hectares of Quebec onion fields, and treated acreage has been steadily increasing since the technology was first commercialised 6 years ago. In comparison to the use of the technology 5 years ago, the number of sterile flies required has been reduced significantly (up to 90%) due to the effective reduction of wild onion maggot populations over time. It has been estimated that the costs associated with SFR are essentially equivalent to the costs associated with the use of conventional insecticides, when averaged over a 5 year period.

This technology was identified as an alternative solution for onion maggot management through consultation with the working group for Pesticide Risk Reduction-led Strategy for Root Insect Pests of Carrot and Onion. The current project is a 1 year field trial to validate and demonstrate the SFR technique in a commercial onion field in Ontario, and evaluate its efficacy to control onion maggot in this region. Results from the trial may inform future opportunities for implementation and demonstration of this technology in other regions of Ontario and Canada.

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