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DPI Diary

August 16, 2013

Celebrate the Honey Bee

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Division of Plant Industry

The Fifth Annual National Honey Bee Day, Saturday, Aug. 17, will be marked with celebrations and, if one group has its way, individuals and flash mobs breaking out with the “Waggle Dance.” Honey bees need all the help they can get these days (see this week’s Time Magazine), and a growing number of small producers and hobbyists are rallying to the cause and discovering the joys of keeping bees.

  • The North Central Beekeeping Association’s events in High Springs begin with Friday screenings of the documentary movie “Queen of the Sun” at the historic Priest Theater in High Springs ($5 admission), hosted by American Honey Princess Emily Campbell. Saturday, FDACS/DPI Apiary Inspector Stephen Cutts and his father, Florida Ag Hall of Famer and former DPI Apiary Chief Lawrence Cutts, will be among the dignitaries attending the morning educational session at the Priest with speakers Gabe Dadant and Mary Cahill-Roberts. An afternoon session will include a candle making and open-hive demonstrations, hive raffle and other activities. (details here.)
  • In Orlando,the Orange Blossom Beekeepers Association will present a celebration of the honey bee at Orange County University of Florida IFAS Extension, 6021 S. Conway Road. Local beekeepers will be selling honey, candles, soap and other products of the hive.

A world-class collection of arthropods

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Museum drawer, part of the Florida State Collection of Arthropods.

Our FDACS/DPI blog featured the Florida State Collection of Arthropods, which is housed at FDACS/DPI headquarters in Gainesville. It consists of approximately 10 million specimens in 22,400 drawers, 352,221 slides and 294,200 vials. It is one of the largest collections of arthropods in the United States. Arthropods are invertebrate animals with an exoskeleton, a segmented body, and jointed appendages. They include insects, arachnids and crustaceans and make up more than 80 percent of all described living animal species.

Thermotherapy may spell hope for citrus industry

Scientists at USDA and Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have discovered that heating potted citrus seedlings in plastic tents – a process known as thermotherapy ­– can eliminate symptoms of citrus greening.   According to Dr. Tim Schubert, biological administrator of the FDACS/DPI Bureau of Entomology, Nematology and Plant Pathology, “Thermotherapy is used in our Citrus Germplasm Indexing Program as one method to rid plant tissue (in this case citrus plant tissue) from cryptic pathogens and can clean up certain viruses, viroids, bacteria, fungi, phytoplasmas, etc.” Dr. Schubert and his colleagues have been investigating the possibility of heating a whole, intact tree in the ground with microwaves or infrared radiation but notes that infected root systems pose a problem. Read the full story here.

August is Tree Check Month

Florida welcomes hordes of tourists each year, and each summer thousands of Floridians seek a break from the heat of our semitropical summers by vacationing in other states. During August, Tree Check Month, vacationers, campers, hikers and everyone else enjoying parks and forests are being enlisted in the battle against a devastating invasive pest and tree killer, the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). The beetle has not yet been found in Florida but is known to infest other states.

Don’t move firewood into Florida . . .  or anywhere else!

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Beetle-infested firewood.

The Asian Longhorn Beetle, as well as other tree pests including the redbay ambrosia beetle that is spreading laurel wilt disease and threatens Florida’s avocado industry, is spread by the movement of infested firewood, and travelers should be aware of the risks of transporting firewood. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is part of the Don’t Move Firewood campaign. Travelers should buy wood at their destination and purchase local firewood only. Don’t take firewood back home with you. Burn it!

Remember: When you travel, “Don’t Pack a Pest”

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A DPI crew filming at Miami International Airport this week for the “Don’t Pack a Pest” Traveler’s Campaign. (Photo by Ellen Dyck)

With the final stretch of summer upon us, many Florida residents are making their way back home from vacations abroad. Whether your vacation included a cruise or you flew out of the U.S., remember our “Don’t Pack a Pest” Traveler’s campaign. For ways to prevent a pest or disease from hitching a ride with you, visit http://www.dontpackapest.com/.

Maintaining awareness of giant African land snail in Miami-Dade

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Capturing giant African land snails by the bucketful.

It has been almost two years since giant African land snails (GALS) were found in Miami-Dade County neighborhoods in September 2011. Since then, teams from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry (FDACS/DPI) have collected more than 125,000 of the mollusks. As eradication efforts continue, officials say a significant decline in the snail population shows the program is succeeding. Extensive surveys continue statewide, but the snail has not been found in any other county in Florida. The snails can grow to be eight inches long and attack more than 500 plant species. Click here for “GALS by the Numbers.”

Goats in the cemetery?

Just for fun and apropos of hardly anything, DPI-wise, we passed on a link to a story about old-school ecosystem management involving goats and the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C. This story triggered some memories of folks back home who, back in the day, let their goats simultaneously mow and fertilize their lawns.

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