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DPI Diary

April 26, 2013

SealColorThis week was Wildfire Awareness Week

This was Wild Fire Awareness Week in Florida. Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam explained the week was initiated to recognize that the wildfires that raged across Florida in 1998 burned more than 500,000 acres and damaged or destroyed 337 homes and structures. Florida’s year-round wildfire season is rapidly heating up as we head into a time of high wildfire activity.

GALS eradication program moves to the bigscreen

Beginning Saturday, movie-goers to some Miami theaters will get a horrific, close-up view of the giant African land snail, or GALS, as they view an ad styled after trailers for classic 1950s-era horror movies. The dramatic public service announcements, which ran on cable television networks in South Florida last fall, will precede feature movies at Miami Dolphin 19 with IMAX, Miami Kendall Village Stadium 16, Miami Lakes 17 Cinemas and Miami Movies at the Falls 12. You can view the trailer here. Similar ads greeted movie-goers in those theaters last summer. But the GALS is no horror fantasy. Discovered in the Miami-Dade in the fall of 2011, it has some truly terrifying implications for the South Florida environment. It can grow to eight inches in length (think “rat-sized”), consumes more than 500 types of plant and can carry the rat lungworm, which can cause a form of meningitis in humans. It even eats stucco on buildings, while leaving a nasty snail-trail.

Media blitz on GALS continued this week

Snailhunter

A Snailhunter: FDACS/DPI inspectors continue to search for giant African land snails in Miami-Dade County. Live snails will be more apparent when the rainy season arrives.

This week the giant African land snail and the efforts of FDACS/DPS to eradicate it from Miami-Dade County were featured in a special report on CBS This Morning. The story has been covered prominently by media at the local, state, national and international efforts following a symposium held in Gainesville, Fla. where agriculture officials, scientists and other experts reviewed progress toward eradication of the GALS and considered ways the eradication campaign could be made even more effective.

Beginning of rainy season raises more concerns about GALS

Sustaining and increasing public awareness of the need to eradicate the giant African land snail from Miami-Dade becomes even more critical as the rainy season approaches. During rainy periods the snails’ presence becomes more apparent. In addition to the movie theater advertisements (see above), during the second quarter of 2013 the campaign plans to purchase billboards, bus signs and bus benches as well as print advertisements including in Spanish-language publications.

Twitter Followers exceed 1,000

t_small-cLast week we reported the FDACS/DPI Twitter account, @FLAPlantIndustry, had 994 followers. Today we’re at 1,011! If you use Twitter, please follow us and we’ll return the favor.

The Coneheads are Here!

Harvard entomologist Dr. Barbara Thorne presented information on the invasive conehead termites found in Dania Beach during the second department-wide Department-wide AgScience Café April 25. Café attendees heard about the termite’s unique biology and behavior, why this pest is such a threat to Florida and what the Department is doing about it.

On the Calendar:

  • The Florida Department of Agricultural Health & Safety Fair will be held May 16 from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center in Gainesville. There will be more than a raffle, food, 50 booths, speakers and catered food. The Division of Plant Industry will be providing an Apiary booth, a stinging and biting pest booth and a speaker on poisonous plants as well as an intriguing experience dubbed the “Mega Colon.” The event is open to UF, Shands, FDACS and the public. It is conducted in partnership  with Shands Health Care and the University of Florida.
  • May 1 is the deadline for nominations for the Commissioner’s Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award, presented annually since 1994. The program spotlights the environmentally innovative farming practices of the state’s growers and ranchers. Click Here  for a nomination form and additional information.
  • Ag Literacy Day is Tuesday, April 30. Hundreds of volunteers will read a storybook about the history of agriculture in Florida to studentsFlorida Agriculture in the Classroom, Inc. is supplying storybook for volunteers to read in classrooms to tell agriculture’s story to elementary school students.  Volunteers can register, teachers can request a reader, and books can be requested and downloaded at:  http://www.flagintheclassroom.com/agliteracyday.html.
  • The FDACS traveling exhibit featuring 500 years of Florida agricultural history is on display at Florida Southern College in Lakeland through April 30. Here’s its schedule into 2014: Polk County Historical Museum, Bartow, May 2-June 13, 2013; Sunbelt Ag Expo, Moultrie, Ga., Oct. 14-17, 2013; South FLorida Fair, West Palm Beach, Jan. 17-Feb. 2, 2014.

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