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Members of the public are being asked to desist from damaging the boxes in which the screwworm flies are being released.
“We have received reports that individuals out there have been damaging these boxes and we are asking them to refrain from doing so. These boxes with these flies are important to eradicating the screwworm from Jamaica,” said Information Officer for the National Screwworm Eradication Programme, Tashana Sewell.
“If you see a box, leave the box alone or if you see that you really need to help, open the box and allow any flies that maybe in it to come out and do their job,” she urged.
Since March of this year, the Ministry of Agriculture has been employing a new approach in eradicating screwworm from Jamaica, by using the boxes to disperse sterile flies into the wild, as opposed to the chill fly system, which was previously used.
“Now we are releasing them in boxes as we find that this is less stressful for the flies. In addition, we are providing food for the flies inside these boxes so that when they come out, they are more energized and are better capable of doing their job,” Miss Sewell explained.
The box fly system utilizes pupae acquired from Mexico, which are packaged into boxes containing some 1,800 pupae per box.
In the meantime, farmers are being encouraged to check all their animals for possible cuts and conduct corrective action where infestation is found, as well as to report all cases of infestation to the Screwworm Eradication Programme.
“If farmers see an animal with an infested wound, they can treat the wound themselves by simply using the screwworm powder that we distribute free of cost. They should take a sample of maggots from the wound, label it with their name, address, the date, and type of animal and they should submit this sample to the nearest Rural Agricultural Development Authority office or to the nearest screwworm officer,” Miss Sewell advised.
She said that farmers can also call the programme and an officer will visit the home or farm and treat the animal free of charge.
The eradication programme is aimed at ridding the island of the pest and to prevent re-infestation once eradication has been achieved.