DPI Diary

October 21, 2014

Summarizing FDACS/DPI’s social media activities last week

Looking for a good read?

Division of Plant Industry

Division of Plant Industry

Browse through the pages of the first edition of Fresh from Florida, a guide to the state’s food, farms and forestry, published in partnership with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and featuring stories about the state’s top crops, livestock, agribusiness, tourism, food safety and local products. http://farmflavor.com/magazine/fresh-florida-2014/

School districts and FDACS celebrate National School Lunch Week

last week was National School Lunch Week and Commissioner Putnam, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consume Services and various school districts. staged events to increase participation – “Getting in the Game for School Lunch,” as the week’s theme put it. “Research shows there is a direct connection between eating healthy meals at school and improved academic performance,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “This National School Lunch Week; we’re encouraging kids to eat right so they can succeed in the classroom and on the field.”

Don’t Pack a Pest part of Florida exhibit at Sunbelt Expo

LinusMore than 100,000 agricultural producers visit the Sunbelt Expo in Moultrie, Georgia each year. This week our colleagues at UF/IFAS coordinated a building full of Florida exhibits. Some Expo attendees came away with promotional items that will remind them, when they travel internationally, “Don’t Pack a Pest.”

Welcome to the University of Florida’s president-elect

Cornell University’s provost, Dr. W. Kent Fuchs, was selected this week to be the new president of the University of Florida. We linked to this video, where he talks about his background and the opportunities ahead at the University of Florida. Welcome, Dr. Fuchs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rIWkRU3Ngs

 

DPI Diary

October 10, 2014

Entertaining and enlightening items from FDACS-DPI social media this week

Smithsonian benefits from DPI scientists’ expertise

We were pleased to post an entry to the DPI Blog by two of DPI’s prominent entomologists who recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to spend a week working at the Smithsonian Institute.

Drs. Trevor Smith and Paul Skelley in the lobby of the Smithsonian Institution.

Drs. Trevor Smith and Paul Skelley in the lobby of the Smithsonian Institution.

Dr. Trevor Smith, chief, Methods Development and Biological Control, and Dr. Paul Skelley, biological administrator III, helped the Smithsonian Institution reorganize beetle specimens in its museum collections.

Beekeepers Honor Cathy Deweese

The Florida State Beekeepers Association honored Cathy Deweese, FDACS-DPI,  with its President’s Award. The award was presented at the association’s convention October 3 at West Palm Beach. Deweese, administrative secretary for the apiary section, was recognized for her 28 years supporting the beekeeping industry. She also received an Honorary Florida Beekeping Registration. More than 320 attended the state convention.

Operation Outdoor Freedom connects wounded veterans with the great outdoors

Our colleagues at the Florida Forest Service fill myriad roles throughout the state, including wildfire suppression, state lands management, County Forester programs and many others. Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Purnam this week pointed out one of the more recent and unique programs, Operation Outdoor Freedom. The program gives wounded veterans a chance to reconnect with the outdoors, nature and themselves through hunting, fishing and other activities. Forest Service personnel have been taking these heroes on hunting and fishing trips, eco-tours and other outings for several years now. Outings have included two guided hunting weekends in Blackwater River State Forest. Three more hunts are planned for the forest this season.

Teachers: Arrange a class tour of DPI

DoyleConnerbuildingWestSeeing an elementary school class conducting a bug hunt in our courtyard at FDACS-DPI headquarters in Gainesville this week under sunny fall skies reminded us to remind teachers that we do host tours of our headquarters and laboratory facilities. To set up a tour for your class, call our Helpline, 1-888-397-1517.

Videos spotlighting Mikania micrantha (“mile-a-minute”) and tawny “crazy” ants are worth your time

  • Our social media posts this week included a video warning of the invasive, noxious weed Mikania micrantha, nicknamed “mile-a-minute,” which chokes off beneficial native plants. It has been found in South Florida and is in bloom now. This video will help you identify it. If you do think you see it, report it to our Helpline, 1-888-397-1517.
  • We also came across this excellent video from UF-IFAS explaining the tawny, or “crazy,” ant that is causing problems in some parts of Florida. Well worth watching.

What does camping have to do with avocados?

Fall ushers in prime camping season in Florida. When you camp, please remember, DON’T MOVE FIREWOOD. Transporting firewood can also move invasive pests, and some of those pests threaten homescapes and agricultural crops. Case in point: the redbay ambrosia beetle, which has killed trees in the laurel family in many parts of Florida and continues to threaten our avocado industry. Watch the three videos on our “Save the Guac” webpage to learn more.

Do you know what these are?

PotterWasp

 

 

 

 

You may be finding some of these on plants in your yard. If you do, it’s not bad news. Interesting post from the Entomlogy Department at UF-IFAS.

Florida has a presence at Sunbelt

Planning on attending Sunbelt Expo in Moultrie, Ga. next week? Find out when to plant Florida crops, how to can foods safely, and how to use paper to pot plants from UF/IFAS Extension experts at the 37th annual Sunbelt Ag Expo—the largest agricultural expo in the southeast. The show runs Oct. 14-16.

Check out our online library of entomology circulars

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry maintains a library of entomology circulars describing hundreds of species found in Florida and we’re constantly adding to it. We recently added two new circulars, on the West Indian Flatid Planthopper, Melormenis basalis in Florida (Hemiptera: Flatidae and the Stained-glass Moth, Samea ecclesialis Guenée (Lepidoptera: Crambidae). These circulars are provided as a service to the scientific community, agricultural producers and the general public.

Don’t Pack a Pest. It’s easy to check as you pack

Linus

 

Traveling outside of the U.S.? Remember to go to http://www.dontpackapest.com, a mobile device-friendly web link, for guidance on what agricultural items you can legally pack in your luggage.

Save The Date:  AgScience Café

All FDACS employees are invited to this month’s Department-wide AgScience Café from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 21, 2014. Joseph Sutton, Biological Scientist Supervisor, Division of Agricultural Environmental Services, will present information on the Seed Regulatory Testing Program.

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Our on-line library contains hundreds of circulars

Division of Plant Industry

Division of Plant Industry

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry maintains a library of entomology circulars describing hundreds of species found in Florida and we’re constantly adding to it.

We recently added two new circulars, on the West Indian Flatid Planthopper, Melormenis basalis in Florida (Hemiptera: Flatidae and the Stained-glass Moth, Samea ecclesialis Guenée (Lepidoptera: Crambidae).

These circulars are provided as a service to the scientific community, agricultural producers and the general public.

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The overall listing for entomology circulars is at:

http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Plant-Industry/Plant-Industry-Publications/Entomology-Circulars

 

Drs. Trevor Smith and Paul Skelley, Division of Plant Industry, conduct research at Smithsonian

Editor’s Note: We are pleased to present this guest blog from two of the FDACS Division of Plant Industry’s prominent entomologists, who recently traveled to Washington, D.C. Dr. Trevor Smith, chief, Methods Development and Biological Control, and Dr. Paul Skelley, biological administrator III, helped the Smithsonian Institution reorganize beetle specimens in its museum collections.

Drs. Trevor Smith and Paul Skelley in the lobby of the Smithsonian Institution.

Drs. Trevor Smith and Paul Skelley in the lobby of the Smithsonian Institution.

In late September Dr. Trevor Smith and Dr. Paul Skelley traveled to Washington D.C. to spend a week working at the Smithsonian Institution. They were awarded a visiting scientist research grant to cover all travel expenses during their visit. This grant was given specifically so that the two DPI scientists could lend their taxonomic expertise to several major insect groups within the national collection.

Dr. Paul Skelley, FDACS/DPI

Dr. Paul Skelley, at work at the Smithsonian Institution, identifying beetle specimens.

Dr. Skelley spent the majority of his time identifying thousands of beetle specimens in the family Erotylidae. This diverse group of beetles includes the pleasing fungus beetles, lizard beetles some of which bore into plants, and others that pollinate cycads. He was able to completely reorganize over 50 drawers of specimens from all over the world. He also spent one morning working at the Museum Support Center, which houses larger artifacts and archived parts of the National Collection.

” The inside of that facility looks very much like the warehouse in the last scene of the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark,” according to Dr. Skelley.

Dr. Smith concentrated his efforts on an accumulation of 35 years worth of canopy fogging samples from Central and South America.  This type of canopy fogging was the basis for the opening scene for the movie Arachnophobia where, after fogging, thousands of insects and spiders begin falling out of the trees for collection. He found hundreds of specimens of the poorly understood beetle family Cybocephalidae, of which he has published several revisionary works.

Dr. Trevor Smith, FDACS-DPI

Dr. Trevor Smith discovered several beetle species new to science in the Smithsonian’s collection.

These beetles are major predators of scale insects, mealybugs and whiteflies making them excellent candidates for various biological control programs.  Dr. Smith discovered several species new to science in these samples and will describe them in an upcoming publication.

In addition to working in the museum Drs. Smith and Skelley travelled to Beltsville, Md. to meet with officials at the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service headquarters. There they discussed continuing joint projects and further collaborative work in the areas of arthropod identification and taxonomy.

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There’s a good reason it’s nicknamed “Mile-a-Minute.”

 Click Here to watch our video.

Be on the lookout for the  white blooms of Mikania micrantha. This destructive invasive species is nicknamed mile-a-minute, and rightly so. Also known as Chinese creeper mikania-micrantha-flowers-160and bittervine, this invasive weed is capable of growing one and a half feet per week. It thrives in Florida’s warm, humid environment, especially in the Redlands area of Homestead, where it was detected for the first time in the continental United States in 2009.

A rapidly growing climbing vine, it can smother and overwhelm other small plants and even large trees. Mile-a-minute can take over areas in only a few months.

It is one of the top one hundred global invasive pests.

Check out our Flickr album for more Mikania micrantha photos. You can also view an informational video of Mikania micrantha. If you think you have seen this plant, please call 888-397-1517.

Mikania micrantha in Florida
Mikania micrantha Pest Alert – DPI

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DPI Diary

October 3, 2014

DPI Diary

Take a moment to think about firewood

If you haven’t considered getting the camping gear out of the closet and into a Florida state park, you should. Fall weather will knock down those pesky mosquitoes and no-see-ums and cooler evenings will make that camp fire inviting indeed. Just be finicky about where the firewood you use comes from and how you handle it. Best bet: Buy it at or near your campground. If you have a minute, watch our video (http://www.freshfromflorida.com/pi/video/firewood_psa_09.wmv). It includes guidelines for protecting our crops and environment from invasives by following the general advice: “Don’t Move Firewood.” See our latest blog post here. http://wp.me/pVBiK-18e

Meeting and Greeting at The Landscape Show

The Landscape Show is one of the nation’s premier nursery and landscape trade shows. The team representing DPI at the show late last week managed to greet thousands of show-goers, who at times were standing in line to check out our exhibit. Personnel from the Plant Inspection unit based in Apopka and Detector Dog personnel manned a joint DPI-USDA booth that displayed several of the myriad exotic pests that threaten Florida’s native and commercially grown plants and agricultural resources. The display included Don’t Pack a Pest, a partnership administered by FDACS-DPI that includes USDA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Don’t pack a Pest encourages international travelers to declare agricultural items in luggage. The Land wp.me/pVBiK-17Z

Congratulations, Belinda Chason

Commissioner Adam H. Purnam announced Belinda G. Chason of Quincy has been named 2010 Woman of the Year in Agriculture. Belinda retired from the Florida Department of Education in 2011 as Director of Career and Technical Education. Since that time she has rejoined the Department of Education as the Director of Educational Initiatives for Career and Adult Education. Kudos, Belinda, for inspiring younger generations to get involved in agriculture. http://southeastagnet.com/2014/09/26/commissioner-putnam-announces-belinda-g-chason-as-2014-woman-of-the-year-in-agriculture/

Sunbelt Expo just two weeks away

Find out when to plant crops, how to can foods safely and how to use paper to pot plants from University of Florida experts at the 37th annual Sunbelt Ag Expo – the largest agricultural exposition in the southeast. Open October 14-16 in Moultrie, Georgia, it draws more than 100,000 people each year. UF/IFAS hosts a permanent building, popular with visitors because of engaging displays and giveaways such as peanuts from the Florida Peanut Growers Association, Florida Orange Juice and many other “Gator Giveaways.”

Buy firewood when you reach your campsite and burn it all there

Division of Plant Industry

Division of Plant Industry

It’s  fall. Time to pull that tent or RV out of storage and enjoy camping with friends and family. Just three words to the wise: Don’t move firewood.

Check out this video to learn more.

A campfire is an essential element of a great camping experience. Enjoy your peaceful night by the fire, but be cautious about the wood you burn.

Moving firewood can introduce harmful, invasive pests. The redbay ambrosia beetle, for example, spreads laurel wilt disease, a savetheguaciconcopyfungal disease which threatens Florida’s avocado industry and is killing swamp bay trees in the Everglades as well as other tree species in the laurel family. We’re raising awareness of this threat with our Save the Guac campaign.

Other insects that can be introduced by moving firewood include the emerald ash borer, Sirex wood wasp, Asian longhorned beetle and gypsy moth.

Pests and diseases that can be spread by firewood are of nationwide concern. Our partners at Don’t Move Firewood are focused on keeping the threat top-of-mind for travelers. We encourage you to visit their website.

Here are simple steps that will protect our Florida environment, gardens and crops.

  1. CampfirePurchase aged firewood near your campsite location. Don’t carry it from home. Many parks offer firewood for sale at a reasonable price or private sellers will have it available just outside the park.
  2. Burn all of the firewood you purchase at your destination, or donate it to a fellow camper who will burn it. Don’t leave unused wood behind or take it to another destination.
  3. When buying firewood, make sure the pieces are dry and have either little bark or bark that is loose, a sign that the wood is very dry. This reduces the threat of spreading diseases and your fire will be easier to start.
  4. Reduce your need for an open fire by cooking over gas or charcoal when possible.

If you’re a camper from outside Florida, please don’t bring firewood with you.

If you’re a camper from Florida, please only use firewood from a Florida source.

Help protect Florida’s natural resources!

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