Autocidal control of screwworms in North America

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Science  22 Jan 1982:
Vol. 215, Issue 4531, pp. 361-370
DOI: 10.1126/science.7199204


The larva of the blowfly Cochliomyia hominivorax, also known as the screwworm, eats the living flesh of cattle and sheep and other warm-blooded animals. A program to eradicate the screwworm in the United States was initiated in the 1950's. The program was very effective until 1968, but severe screwworm outbreaks occurred in 1972 to 1976 and in 1978. Although the program has again been effective since 1979, the possibility of outbreaks recurring in the future has highlighted the need for a broader understanding of the pest. Studies of screwworm populations in the United Stated and Mexico indicate that much of the genetic diversity of this insect is distributed among sympatric non-interbreeding populations. A new approach may be required to retain the effectiveness of the control program and to prevent a serious outbreak from threatening the economic viability of the U.S. livestock industry.