Quarantine to zap fruit storage pests

Fruit-loving insects, beware: A new technology called the “Controlled Atmosphere/Temperature Treatment System” may be coming to a nearby packinghouse or plant quarantine facility.

Developed by Agricultural Research Service scientists, CATTS is a pesticide-free technology that kills codling moths, oriental fruit moths and certain other insects with a lethal combination of rising temperatures and mixtures of low oxygen and high carbon dioxide.

ARS entomologist Lisa Neven envisions using the technology as a postharvest treatment for apples, peaches, pears, cherries and nectarines destined for export to foreign markets.

Methyl bromide fumigation is a chief means of disinfecting such fruit, but the chemical is expensive, costing around $10 a pound, and its use is heavily regulated due to environmental safety and other concerns.

In tests, CATTS killed 100 percent of codling moth larvae infesting apples, sweet cherries, peaches and nectarines without significantly affecting the fruits' appearance, texture, taste and aroma, reports Neven, in the ARS Fruit and Vegetable Insect Research Unit, Wapato, Wash. Oriental fruit moth tests are also promising, adds Neven, who collaborates with other ARS researchers in Washington and California.

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