Chemical insecticides face criticism and some have been banned, including a growing number of neonicotinoids that cannot be used in the European Union. But if these insecticides are eliminated, what will replace them? One answer is… the insects themselves. In other words, breeding and releasing thousands and thousands of sterile males into cultivated areas. “The method entails breeding the harmful insect in a laboratory, separating the males and sterilising them; they are then released into fields where they mate with females, but without producing offspring”, explains Glen Slade, who calls this process the sterile insect technique (SIT). UK-based company BigSIS uses a method based on robotics and AI that harnesses X rays to sterilise – and boost the strength of – batches of males capable of competing with rival wild, fertile males for the affection of female insects who they cannot fertilise!