February 26, 2015
This entry references the following article, which can be viewed here.
UF researchers: Rare parasite colonizing snails in South Florida
Published: Feb 25, 2015 By: Sarah Carey
Category: University of Florida, College of Veterinary Medicine
Since 2012, when its scientists confirmed the presence of rat lungworm, a dangerous parasite that can transmit a form of meningitis, in giant African land snail (GALS) specimens from South Florida, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has been warning the public against touching or consuming GALS or other snails. The warnings are an integral part of continuing outreach to the public in support of eradication efforts aimed at the invasive GALS. Teams from the FDACS Division of Plant Industry continue to seek out the GALS on a daily basis.
Researchers at the University of Florida are now warning that the rat lungworm, a parasite that has been rare in the continental U.S. but which is considered established in snail populations in Hawaii, is present in a broader range of species of snails in Florida than had previously been thought. An article posted yesterday by the UF College of Veterinary Medicine says the scientists made the discovery after an orangutan treated at UF died from eating snails carrying the parasite, Angiostrongylus cantonensis, a nematode that can infect both animals and humans.
Dr. Heather Walden, Ph.D., an assistant professor of parasitology at UF’s College of Veterinary Medicine and lead author of a study published online this month in the Journal of Parasitology, says it is important to determine the geographic distribution of the parasite in Florida.
“Florida’s large horticultural industry makes the parasite’s presence in the state particularly disturbing,” the article says, “because plant nurseries are one of its most important modes of transportation.”
Dr. Walden warns against human consumption of undercooked or raw snails, crustaceans or frogs.
“I often tell my students, ‘Don’t let your pets eat lizards or catch mice,’ to avoid potential infection of other parasites. Snails also fall into that group,” said Walden. “If you know you have a snail problem, try to keep your pet away from that area.
Within 60 days, scientists with the FDACS Division of Plant Industry will publish a paper detailing their survey that resulted in the first confirmation of juvenile rat lungworm infecting giant African land snails in Florida.
February 26, 2015
Veteran Florida citrus growers remember these grove heaters well. Grove owners and workers spent a lot of time placing heaters among the trees in the fall and collecting them, generally after March 1, when the danger of further cold was diminished. This photo was taken in 1964. Towering gasoline-powered wind machines were also used for cold protection. The heaters and wind machines were in general use through the 1980s.
February 25, 2015
We have created a new and improved on-line library for Tri-ology. The digest, published six times a year, reports on detection activities from plant nursery inspections inspections and other survey activities throughout the state, and summarizes requests from the public for identification of plants and pests during the previous two months. It is produced by DPI’s Bureau of Entomology, Nematology, and Plant Pathology to provide information to researchers, the academic community, agricultural producers and the general public.
Editions dating from 1998 to the present can be easily viewed and printed at this website:
Editions dating from 1951 are available from the DPI library and can be requested by calling the Helpline, 888-397-1517.
The mission of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry is to detect, intercept and control plant and honey bee pests that threaten Florida’s native and commercially grown plants and agricultural resources.
February 24, 2015
National Invasive Species Awareness Week is a nationwide event, and as the map linked here shows, Florida is hosting many local activities and events related to the observance.
Because it has many international airports and seaports, Florida is considered a sentinel state for invasive species of all kinds. The mission of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry is to detect, intercept and control plant and honey bee pests that threaten Florida’s native and commercially grown plants and agricultural resources. The division coordinates the Don’t Pack a Pest program to encourage travelers to avoid carrying agricultural items in luggage, and to declare such items.
Nine Ways You Can Help
- Learn about invasive species, especially those found in your region. Your county Extension office and the National Invasive Species Information Center are both trusted resources.
- Clean hiking boots, waders, boats and trailers, off-road vehicles and other gear to stop invasive species from hitching a ride to a new location. Learn more here.
- Avoid dumping aquariums or live bait into waterways. Learn more here.
- Don’t move firewood – instead, buy it where you’ll burn it, or gather on site when permitted. Learn more at DontMoveFirewood.org
- Use forage, hay, mulch and soil that are certified as “weed free.”
- Plant only non-invasive plants in your garden, and remove any known invaders.
- Report new or expanded invasive species outbreaks to authorities. Here is a state-by-state list of contacts
- Volunteer to help remove invasive species from public lands and natural areas.
- Ask your political representatives at the state, local and national level to support invasive species control efforts.
February 24, 2015
Numbers show state is winning battle against GALS
Giant African land snails (GALS) were found in Miami-Dade County neighborhoods in September 2011 and in neighboring Broward County in September 2014. As eradication efforts continue, officials say a significant decline in the snail population shows the program is succeeding. Surveys continue statewide. But to date the snail has not been found anywhere else in Florida. The snails can grow to be eight inches long and attack more than 500 plant species. The snail can also damage structures by consuming stucco to obtain calcium to build its shell and are known to carry a strain of meningitis to which humans and animals are susceptible. Below are key numbers, as of January 30, 2015, related to the snail eradication program.
9/8/11: Date the giant African land snail was discovered in Miami
500+: Number of agricultural crops known to be consumed by the snail
8” x 4”: Maximum size attained by individuals of the species
Nine: Maximum years in the life span of individuals
1,200: Number of eggs an adult can lay in one year
155,202+: Number of GALS found between September 2011 and February 13, 2015
28: Number of core areas where the snail has been found
666: Number of properties on which snails have been found
60,111: Number of properties within a one-half-mile arc of positive properties
Nine +: Number of years it took to eradicate the snail after it was found in Florida in 1966
17,000: Total number of snails collected in the 1966-1975 eradication program
$1 million: Cost of that eradication (in 1960s dollars)
One: Number of successful GALS eradication programs on record
2012: Year in which FDACS scientists confirmed the rat lungworm in snails captured in Miami
95: Percentage of cases identified due to calls from the public to the Helpline
1-888-397-1517: Number to call to report a suspect snail (Division of Plant Industry toll-free Helpline)
February 20, 2015
Go figure. Can 3-D printing fight citrus greening?
One FDACS-DPI activity very much in the news this week was the psyllid traps our citrus greening researchers are creating using 3-D printing technology. Dr. Trevor Smith demonstrated the traps at the International Conference on HLB which was held last week in Orlando (see above).
We know how to localize a story
Miss P. the Beagle won Best in Show the prestigious Westminster dog show this week, and so we congratulated her. We couldn’t help but talk about another famous beagle, namely Linus, the agricultural detector dog who is the face for the Don’t Pack a Pest travelers program, and the detector dogs that serve in the ranks of DPI, protecting Florida agriculture.
Just what you’d expect for Throwback Thursday: A bit of DPI history
Throwback Thursday reprised the role Newell Hall on the University of Florida campus has played in the history of FDACS-DPI. It is named after Wilmon E Newell, the first Plant Commissioner for the Florida State Plant Board, the predecessor of the Florida Department of the FDACS Division of Plant Industry. Newell Hall has been unused and vacant for years, but is due for renovation beginning this fall.
Gents feeding ladies . . . and something fishy about our apiary crew
A pre-Valentine’s Day event delighted the ladies of DPI, as some of the men cooked and served a delicious lunch for them. Then this week, the folks in our Apiary section fired up the cookers and invited us all to a Wednesday fish fry. Both events benefited the Florida State Employees Charitable Campaign.
Cuba alarmed over presents of “rat-sized snails”
Giant African land snails are reported to be invading Cuba. Once established, they are expected to thrive and Cuban officials are sounding the alarm, and we can certainly empathize. Fox News came to DPI’s Public Information Director Denise Feiber for comment. That’s appropriate. She has been talking to the media about our program to eradicate the snails from South Florida since they were discovered in residential areas there in 2011. See her comments here.
A week of reaching out
Division employees reached out to the public recently at the Miami Boat Show, the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscapers Association trade show in Jacksonville and the Florida State Fair. We also passed along a reminder from the Strawberry Festival, which opens its doors February 26 and lasts until March 1. Gate admission gives you access to exhibits, competitions, livestock shows, arts and crafts and free entertainment.
Lowest form of humor draws highest number of views
We learn from our Facebook feed that a Wienermobile (a famous hotdog-shaped vehicle sponsored by a well-known wiener manufacturer with the initials OM) was damaged after it skidded on icy roads in Pennsylvania.
Commenters said it wasn’t the “wurst” accident they had witnessed. But one said …
…wait for it
“I never sausage a mess.”
Yes, folks. This silly little post reached about four times the audience of anything else we posted this week. Is anyone else surprised at that?