DPI Diary

July 25, 2014

Summarizing our social media posts this week

Laurel wilt remains serious threat

Laurel Wilt Symptoms

This photo illustrates laurel wilt symptoms.

Media reports that laurel wilt disease is killing swamp bay trees in the Everglades prompted us to remind everyone that the fungal disease also threatens redbay and other tree species in the laurel family (Lauraceae)., including the state’s avocado trees. The disease is caused by a fungus (Raffaelea lauricola) that is introduced into host trees by a non-native insect, the redbay ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glabratus). More information on laurel wilt and the FDACS-DPI “Save the Guac” campaign is available here, on the DPI website.

Four additions to the Noxious Weed List

This week, the addition of four species of plants to Florida’s Noxious Weed List provided an opportunity to explain to our social media followers the significance of the list in protecting our environment from invasive bad actors. Each of the newly added plant species appeared previously as a “Weed of the Month” on our website and is displacing native plants. Learn about the newly listed invasive plants and the significance of the list of noxious weeds here.

In praise of the Florida Citrus Repository

Kudos to the GrowingProduce.com for this article hailing the May opening of the Florida Citrus Repository in LaCrosse. Growing Produce editorialized, “LaCrosse will offer a tremendous service to nurseries, growers, and research facilities.… FDACS DPI is doing what is necessary to position Florida’s citrus industry for long-term success.”

Florida Citrus Repository at LaCrosse

Florida Citrus Repository at LaCrosse


Fresh From Florida will be represented at Orlando show

Our FDACS colleagues at Fresh From Florida are planning a treat for folks who attend the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Show September 7-9 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. Attendees will be welcomed at the “Fresh from Florida” pavilion. A number of Fresh From Florida member companies are participating. If you are a member of the “Fresh From Florida” program and are interested in being part of the exhibit, please contact Urban Expositions at www.urban-expo.com.Raising awareness for wildland firefighters

Forest Service teams with Disney

This month the Florida Forest Service  teamed with Disney, sponsoring a short educational video about Forest Service efforts to protect Florida from wildfire, which played just prior to showings of the new movie, “Planes: Fire & Rescue.” Members of the Florida Forest Service greeted guests and demonstrated firefighting equipment at some theaters in Orlando, Tampa and Miami.

Student chefs invited compete in statewide cookoff

calling-all-kid-chefs-cook-off-kicks-offThe Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is searching for student chef ambassadors to promote “Fresh From Florida” recipes and products. Finalists will compete in regional events. Entry requirements:

  • You must be a Florida student going into fourth to the 12th grade.
  • You must create an original recipe and submit with a photo.
  • The recipe must contain one fresh fruit or fresh vegetable.
  • The recipe must have clear directions, provide four snack-size servings and be prepared in 45 minutes or less.
  • Your recipe must promote good nutrition and healthy eating habits.

Deadline to enter is Sept. 15. For more rules and to submit your entry, go to www.FreshFromFlorida.com/Cookoff.


Division of Plant Industry

Division of Plant Industry

These plant species are pretty — but dangerous

Four new plant species have been added to Florida’s list of noxious weeds. Agriculture officials have determined that they pose a serious threat to agriculture, have a negative impact on protected plant species or disrupt naturally occurring native plant communities.

Each of these species has previously been featured as a Weed of the Month by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry.

Ligustrum sinense

Ligustrum sinense


Ligustrum sinense, also known as Chinese privet and small leaved privet,  was introduced to the United States as an ornamental shrub in 1852 and was observed to have escaped from cultivation in the Southeast by the 1930s. Tolerant of low light conditions and poor soils, it has colonized abandoned homesteads, vacant lots, pastures and forests, and is now regarded as one of the major weeds of woodland habitats in the southeastern United States.

Nymphoides cristata

Nymphoides cristata

Nymphoides cristata, crested floating heart, and Nymphoides peltata, yellow floating heart, or fringed water lily, were introduced to Florida through the aquatic plant trade and are now thoroughly naturalized, replacing native species.

Ardisia crenata

Ardisia crenata

Ardisia crenata is an attractive ornamental that that has escaped from cultivation into Florida’s natural areas. It is now thoroughly naturalized and is replacing native species. Forms with white or pink fruits are sometimes encountered.

It is unlawful to cultivate, introduce, possess, move or release  these species  and others listed as noxious weeds without a state or federal  permit. In order to issue such a permit, FDACS must determine that the species can be contained to prevent its escape into the environment or that it will not pose a threat to agriculture, beneficial organisms or the environment, or become a public nuisance. A federal permit can be issued by USDA with the assent of the Florida Department of Agriculture.

View the complete list of noxious weeds here.


Photos courtesy of UF-IFAS



DPI Diary

July 18, 2014

Summarizing FDACS/DPI Social media activities this week

Members of the team working to eradicate the giant African snail from Miami-Dade always handle the animals with gloves. Students participating in the Junior Detective Program are advised to report, but not handle, snails.

Members of the team working to eradicate the giant African snail from Miami-Dade always handle the animals with gloves.

The seizure of dozens of giant African land snails at the airport in Los Angeles this week caused Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam to issue a warning to Floridians to continue to watch for the invasive species. The department has been working to eradicate the snail from Mimi-Dade County since 2011.  The discovery allowed California agriculture to narrowly avoid an environmental catastrophe. The snail is known to consumer more than 250 agricultural crops, poses a threat to human health and can damage buildings by consuming stucco.

The early life of FDACS/DPI

#ThrowbackThursday brought a link to a historical blog entry as we recalled how the Division of Plant Industry began life in the early 20th century as the State Plant Board. It was not until 1961 that it became part of the Florida Department of Agriculture.

Florida number two in fresh produce exports

Our friends at the Ultimate Citrus Page called our attention to a report on the Fresh Plaza website from Florida Tax Watch,  the independent taxpayer research institute and government watchdog, calling Florida the second largest produce exporter in the nation. The report finds that farming and processing of Florida produce contributes more than $7.5 billion to the state economy.  Florida is home to more than 47,500 commercial farms covering 9.25 million acres, and producing fresh fruits, vegetables and juices.

J-lo gets a mite named after her


J-lo and the water mite named after her

Here’s a tidbit that made us wonder. We wondered how excited Jennifer Lopez was after scientists gave her a shoutout by naming a newly discovered water mite they foundoff the coast of Puerto Rico – where the Bronx-born singer’s parents come from – after the singer/actress. They had been kept happy listening to J-Lo’s music while they worked, so all agreed the mite would be named Litarachna lopezae in her honor.

Coming events:

  • The Second Annual University of Florida South Florida Bee College will be held Friday and Saturday, Aug. 15-16, at the Ft. Lauderdale Research and Education center, 3205 College Avenue, Davie, FL  33314. The two-day event is open to the public and offers classes for all levels of interest. Beekeepers of all ages and experience levels, gardeners, naturalists, teachers, farmers, county agents, and anyone else interested in honey bees is encourages to attend. You do not have to keep bees to attend; the only prerequisite is your interest in the subject. Register here by Aug. 14.
  • The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is accepting nominations for the 2014 Woman of the Year in Agriculture Award.
  • The Florida Small farms and Alternative Enterprises Conference, “Embracing Opportunities, Boosting Profits,” will beheld Aug. 1-2 at Kissimmee.
  • Citrus Expo is less than 4 weeks away. It will take place August 13-14 in Fort Myers. A variety of topics will be discussed, including federal HLB funding.


DPI Diary

July 11, 2014

Catch up on the week’s stunning social media posts from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry

Summer is the season to enjoy fireflies

fireflyMany Southerners enjoy the company of fireflies, or lightning bugs, during summer evenings outdoors. But did you know that most adult fireflies don’t eat anything? Or that some only light up in their egg and larval stages, but never blink at night?  This interview with University of Florida lightning bug expert Marc Branham is well worth listening to. We came away from it with new material for conversation.

Have you visited the new Don’t Pack a Pest website?

The Don’t Pack a Pest travelers program has made it easier than ever to find out whether the contents of your international baggage will pass muster with U.S. Customs when you enter the U.S. The site, http://DontPackaPest.com is fully compatible with desktop and laptop computers and mobile devices. It lets travelers quickly determine whether items are allowed entry in the U.S. The list of sensitive items is not limited to foodstuffs and plants. Meats, animal hunting trophies, game animal carcasses and hides and certain handicrafts, for example, are restricted as well. The Division of Plant Industry administers the program, which is aimed at deterring the movement of invasive plants, animals and diseases that threaten agriculture and the environment as well as human and animal health.

Hard to miss Don’t Pack a Pest message when flying into or from Cayman Islands

Don’t Pack a Pest signs festoon Owen Roberts International Airport, the gateway to the Cayman Islands. Earlier this month the Hon. Kurt Tibbetts, the Cayman Islands’ Minister for Agriculture, and other officials greeted representatives of the Don’t Pack a Pest partnership as the island nation became the newest partner in the program, that now encompasses major ports of entry in the U.S., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.


How well do you know your Florida citrus history?

The first introduction of citrus canker in Florida was in 1910 on trifoliate rootstock seedlings imported from Japan. We passed that fact along on Monday and our Fresh from Florida blog has details for those who wish to learn more. http://wp.me/pVBiK-wJ

Yes, the GALS is horrific

It only seemed right to post this period-style movie poster on Throwback Thursday. The presence of the giant African land snail in Miami is, indeed, horrifying and we appreciate the cooperative residents who continue to watch for it and call our toll-free Helpline, 1-888-397-1517, when they spot a suspect. Learn more about the eradication program here:



It’s Throwback Thursday.

This period-style poster could have advertised a 1950s-era horror moving. But instead, it recounts the horrors of the giant African land snail, which appeared in Miami-Dade County 9n 2011. Our Florida Departenet of Agriculture teams are still searching for and capturing these massive mollusks, with the cooperation of the public. If you see a suspect, call our Helpline, 1-888-397-1517.


FDACS Chief Economist to explain cost/benefit analysis used to evaluate action against invasive species

Division of Plant Industry

Division of Plant Industry

On Thursday, July 17, Sergio Alvarez, chief economist in the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Office and Policy and Budget, will explain how the state estimates and manages the cost of invasive species in Florida, using tree termites as an example. He will speak at 1:30 p.m. at Ziegler Hall in a session that is open to the public.

While some non-native species are harmless or even beneficial, many others pose significant threats to ecosystems, agriculture and human health. Making sound policy decisions regarding management of invasive species requires information on the potential benefits and costs to society that result from control and eradication measures versus simply allowing the invasive species to become established and spread. Sound policy dictates that such species be eradicated if the costs of an eradication program are less that or equal to  the damage anticipated from the species becoming established and spreading.

Dr. Alvarez will use the case of the Conehead, or tree termite, invasion in South Florida to provide an overview of the decision process.

The School of Forest Resources and Conservation (SFRC) and the Emerging Threats to Forests research group are sponsoring Dr. Alvarez’s lecture.


The travelers program launches website to aid travelers, welcomes Caymans  to the partnership

The Don’t Pack a Pest travelers program took two big steps forward last week, launching a revised, mobile-device-friendly, website that tells travelers whether items they plan to travel with can harm native species, and by welcoming yet another Caribbean nation – the Cayman Islands –  into the partnership.

DPAPScreenshotThe partnership’s campaign is administered by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry. Other partners (http://www.dontpackapest.com/Partners) include the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), cruise lines, travel agents, airlines and airports and the Caribbean Plant Health Directors Forum, which includes representatives from most of the countries in the Caribbean Region.

Website: DontPackaPest.com

The website is now fully compatible with desktop and laptop computers and mobile devices. It allows travelers to quickly determine whether items they plan to travel with (or that might already be in their luggage) are allowed entry into the U.S. “Can I bring papaya from Uruguay,” for example. The answer: “This item is prohibited from entering the U.S. in passenger baggage.” Another search for truffle from France returns the answer, “Subject to Inspection.” The site then leads the traveler to a page explaining the declaration procedure and the fines and delays that can result from failing to declare.  The list of sensitive items is not limited to foodstuffs and plants. Meats, animal hunting trophies, game animal carcasses and hides and certain handicrafts, for example, are restricted as well.

Cayman Islands welcomed into partnership

On July 2, the Hon. Kurt Tibbetts, the Cayman Islands’ minister for agriculture, welcomed representatives of the partnership and other dignitaries at a ceremony at the Owen Roberts International Airport as the islands became the newest partner in the program that includes major ports of entry in the U.S., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.

The Don’t Pack a Pest program launched in 2010. It is aimed at deterring the movement of invasive plants, animals and diseases that threaten agriculture and the environment as well as human and animal health.


International travelers can purposefully or unknowingly introduce invasive pests and diseases by transporting undeclared agricultural materials in luggage. The negative consequences of invasive species are far-reaching, costing the United States billions of dollars in damages every year.

Compounding the problem is that these harmful invaders spread at astonishing rates. Such infestations of invasive plants and animals can negatively affect property values, agricultural productivity, public utility operations, native fisheries, tourism, outdoor recreation, and the overall health of the world’s ecosystem.

Click here to see coverage of the event from the Cayman media’s point of view. Visit http://www.dontpackapest.com to learn what you can carry into the U.S. in your baggage.



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