Construcción del Centro de Dispersión en antiguo Aeropuerto de Tocumen (1998)

Built of the Dispersion Center in the old Tocumen Airport (1998)

This center is located at Tocumen International Airport and was built with an approximate investment of $1.7 million dollars. It began operations in November 1998 and since then works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The purpose of the Center is to receive the sterile pupa (one of the stages of the fly), to continue with the life cycle in an artificial production system especially designed for the process, until they become flies, later they will be released from special planes. Since Biological Control for the species is used, the activity consists in releasing the sterile flies when they mate with fertile flies, this interrupts the life cycle as the eggs are not fitted, meaning that there are no offsprings.

The Center has production units with production capacity up to 120 million flies per week, each unit has three chambers, two for emergence (28° a 32° C or 80 to 90°F) and one for lethargy (3 to 5°C or 37° to 40°F), all with 50-80% of relative humidity. In addition it has a production system of emergency towers that are located inside the units.
Once received the pupa from the Sterile Flies Production Plant, located in Pacora, the technical team begins the works of packing and sampling for evaluations by Quality Control.


The work begins with the arrival of the sterile pupae, they dispense up to 600 ml with a doser in each emergency sieve, until they complete a hermetic tower of 60-65 sieve. A gel pill of food is located to each sieve as source of energy, also over the tower a fan is placed to ventilate over the tower, once the majority of the insects have emerged.

Past 30-34 hours of process, the towers are carried to a cold room for its inactivity and collection. Once the collection is completed, the flies will be packed in 2 containers which are placed into a plane to make the dispersion flight; these containers are especially designed for this activity and each one has the capacity of receiving 225-230 liters of flies.

All the production process takes approximately 40 hours, with a strict Quality Control, from the arrival of the sterile pupae until the time of dispersion. Some of the test that provides us the acceptable qualities of insect to accomplish the purposes of eradicating the plague are: weight of the fly, percentage of mortality, flies agility, sexual aggressiveness and orogenic development, longevity among others. At the end of each process all the equipment is cleaned and prepared for the next ship of sterile pupae.


Dispatch process from containers with flies to the plane

The sterile flies are dispersed on adequate doses depending on the disease behavior from 6,000 or 3,000 per each nautical linear mile that the plane over each flight (1.15 ordinary miles;
1.85 kilometers).

The dispersion flights are made through a grid pattern uniformly separated with a distance of 2 nautical miles (2.3 ordinary miles; 3.7 kilometers) among grid lines. With the purpose of ensuring an adequate and uniform distribution of the flies; the flights are programed so that each zone receives sterile flies every three days.



The speed of the plane during the dispersion is of 165 knots (190 miles per hour; 306 km per hour) and each flight has an average length of 4.4 hours, at an altitude of 8500 foots above sea level.


Plane in takeoff process to begin the release of flies.

The sterile flies are released using specially equipped planes, once released they go to the forest and river zones looking for food and wild screwworm flies. When they meet each other they mate, but without the possibility of reproduction because one of them is sterile.

This is how the life cycle is shortened, gradually eliminating little by little until fully eradicated.