For decades, scientists have blasted insects with radiation to create sterile males that farmers then released for pest control.
Now, a team based in England suggests a more subtle approach. Two new lines of Drosophila melanogaster prove that it's possible to create insects with dominant genes that make females selfdestruct on cue, report Dean D. Thomas of Oxford University and his colleagues in the March 31 Science.
The next challenge is to use the method on an economically important pest, says Luke S. Alphey, who led the team. "Top of the list is the medfly," he says.
Although male irradiation has had successes—it wiped out screwworm in the United States—that technique is costly. Irradiating the insects to render them sterile leaves them less healt