Happy National Invasive Species Awareness Week!
March 2, 2012
This week is the most important holiday around these parts (with the exception of Thanksgiving and all the wonderful Fresh from Florida food we eat)! This week, we are doing our best to spread the word about invasive species and their harmful impacts on the environment while observing National Invasive Species Awareness Week, and we want you to get involved too! Where better to find information about invasive species than right here at FDACS Division of Plant Industry? DPI offers a plethora of information about invasive species that threaten Florida’s native and commercially grown plants and agricultural resources. Observe National Invasive Species Awareness Week and celebrate the abundance of native plant and animal species by getting informed, lending a hand, and spreading the word.
Reading this blog post is step one in observing National Invasive Species Awareness week. You can find lots of useful information about invasive species that are threatening Florida’s plant industry right here. Another great place to peruse is DPI’s website. There you will find hot topics in the plant and apiary industries, pest alerts, social media links for fun ways to connect with DPI, press releases on newly found invasive species, and so much more. A great resource to get informed about all types of invasive species is the National Invasive Species Information Center. This website is easy to navigate and user’s can search invasive species by type of organism, state that it’s found in or photos. Not a fan of the World Wide Web? There are numerous books about invasive species available for those who want to simply be informed and scientists have written numerous field guides for those adventure-seekers who want to go exploring.
Lend a Hand
Now that you’re an amateur invasive species scout, lend a hand to the effort of controlling these agricultural and natural resource pests! Join an eradication effort in your area. In Miami-Dade County, FDACS-DPI is working diligently to eradicate the giant African land snail (GALS), one of the most damaging snails in the world as it consumes at least 500 different types of plants. DPI officials have already collected over 37,000 GALS. Many of these captures were credited to homeowners calling the DPI helpline and reporting sightings of the snails.
Another way to join the fight against invasive species is to help out our natives. Plant a garden with Florida native plants and make sure that you purchase your plants at a registered nursery near your home. This will minimize the risks of bring home pests or transporting them from one area to another. Here is a list of Florida native plants from UF/IFAS to get you started!
Spread the Word
The most significant way that you can observe Nationals Invasive Species Awareness Week is to talk to others about the effects that invasive species have on our agricultural and natural resources. Many people are familiar with the giant pythons in the Everglades and the large green iguanas in the Florida Keys. But some are unaware that the beautiful, fast-growing vine along the roadside is the invasive Mikania micrantha, which kills the native plants around it by cutting off their sunlight. Here is a great video about this mile-a-minute vine that may be in your backyard. Many citrus diseases that impact the cost and availability of your glass of OJ in the morning are spread by invasive insects. The Citrus Health Response Program (CHRP) team handles these cases, like citrus greening, which is spread by the Asian citrus psyllid. CHRP folks utilize biocontrol and other technologies to protect Florida’s citrus and they train other industry members to help protect their crops, too.
DPI has three movements which are connecting the public to the reality of invasive species and their potentially impact on our agriculture and natural resources. The more people aware of the issues, the larger team we have to safeguard Florida;s native and commercially grown plants and agricultural resources.
Don’t Pack a Pest is a travelers outreach campaign created by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, in partnership with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Miami-Dade County. The campaign is intended to raise awareness about the risks associated with the introduction of harmful pests and disease by travelers. Every day, many travelers unknowingly bring agricultural products home with them in their suitcases, on their boats, and in their cars. Whether it’s fruit, soil on your shoes, or meat from your Uncle Vern’s farm overseas, these products may contain organisms which are not native to Florida or America and can potentially become invasive as they are not a natural component of our food chain. Make sure when you are traveling, don’t pack a pest. If you’re traveling, here is a great resource for what food you can and cannot return home with. Our Don’t Pack a Pest site has numerous resources for travelers. You can even get your own Don’t Pack a Pest travelers luggage tag!
Two other movements, Don’t Move Firewood and Save the Guac, are efforts against laurel wilt disease which is caused by a fungus transmitted by the invasive redbay ambrosia beetle. Laurel wilt kills avocado and other trees in the laurel family. These insects can enter Florida on infested firewood and host trees from unregistered nurseries. If you are planning on using firewood, purchase it locally and burn it all on site. Do not transport it or you may bring unwanted guests home too.
Here are ten ways to observe National Invasive Species Awareness Week straight from NISAW. If you have any questions or think you may have seen an invasive species, feel free to call the DPI helpline at 888.397.1517. Thank you for getting informed, lending a hand, and spreading the word during National Invasive Species Awareness Week!