February 27, 2017
National Invasive Species Awareness Week is organized to bring attention to the impacts, prevention and management of invasive species – and all those who are working toward healthy, biodiverse ecosystems. Florida knows all too well about the impact of invasive species and how they can damage our fragile environment. Below are just a handful of the current invasive species plaguing Florida’s natural area and threatening our agriculture.
In 2011, FDACS began an eradication program to address a large infestation of giant African land snails in Miami-Dade county. The giant African land snail is one of the most damaging snails in the world because they consume at least 500 different types of plants, can cause structural damage to buildings due to consumption of plaster and stucco, and can carry a parasitic nematode that can cause a form of meningitis in humans. The snail is one of the largest land snails in the world, growing up to eight inches in length and more than four inches in diameter. With a life expectancy of close to nine years and the ability to reproduce rapidly eradication s essential to protecting Florida.
As of February 2017, over 166,000 GALS have been destroyed and the program is on track to achieve eradication in the next four years.
The Asian citrus psyllid was found for the first time in the U.S. in 1998 in Delray Beach, FL., but no associated Huanglongbing (HLB) infection was found at that time. Agriculture officials imposed quarantines and took other actions to control the spread of the psyllid. However, with the abundance of citrus and other hosts present in the state, psyllid populations grew and became established. As the vector for HLB, it is critical to try to manage the Asian citrus psyllid populations in Florida. The division rears and releases hundreds of thousands of Tamarixia radiata, a beneficial parasitic biological ____ insect that attacks Asian citrus psyllids.
Exotic fruit flies are considered some of the most serious of the world’s agricultural pests due to their potential economic harm and threat to our food supply. They attack hundreds of different fruits, vegetables, and nuts, including oranges, grapefruit, lemons, apples, guava, mango, tomatoes, and peppers. Exotic fruit flies include: Mediterranean, Oriental, melon, Mexican, guava and peach to name a few.
The redbay ambrosia beetle spreads a fungus causing laurel wilt disease as it bores into healthy trees in the laurel family. The beetle may spread the disease when it migrates from infested trees to healthy ones. The beetle and disease are also spread when infested plants and wood are moved from one location to another. Susceptible trees include the avocado, red bay, swamp bay, pondspice and silk bay trees – all native to Florida.
A way to identify a tree affected by laurel wilt is to look for toothpick like tubes around the truck of the tree or for piles of fine sawdust, dropping foliage with a reddish or purplish discoloration, or even black discoloration on sapwood surface. Check out SavetheGuac.com to learn more about laurel wilt and the redbay ambrosia beetle.
Honey bees brought to the U.S. in the 1600’s by European settlers soon became one of the most economically beneficial insects. Their gentle nature made them easy to manage. In 1956, researchers in Brazil imported honey bees from Africa in an attempt to create a honey bee that would be better suited to tropical conditions. The thought was that when the African honey bees (AHB) were bred with European honey bees, the African honey bees would lose their most defensive nature. However, that was not the case. In 1957, 26 African queen bees escaped from a breeding program in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Soon the hybrid Africanized honey bees became established and expanded their range through South and Central America. The first report of Africanized honey bees in the United States was made in Hidalgo, Texas in 1990. Since then, they have been found throughout the southeast. If you have a wild bee hive in your yard, it is imperative that you take precautions and never try removal without a certified beekeeper.
Although invasive, love bugs are generally harmless, except to your car’s paint. Love bugs congregate in swarms and are a big nuisance for motorists. After love bugs die, the fatty tissue left behind can stain clothing and cause holes to form in the paint on a car if not removed quickly.
Emerald ash borers are an invasive species discovered in 2002 near Detroit, Michigan, and have since spread. The spread is largely caused by the transportation of firewood within and between states. As the name states, the insects have a beautiful metallic emerald green coloring, but looks can be deceiving. This wood-hungry insect has been known to eat all varieties of ash trees in North America.
The insects feed on ash trees where they then lay their eggs inside the bark. During the summer months, the eggs will hatch and the larvae will eat the tree from the inside out, starving it from water and proper nutrients. When the borers emerge from the tree they leave behind a D-shaped hole, a tell-tale sign of emerald ash borers. Another indicator is an abundance of woodpeckers who are fond of the EAB in the larval stage. The EAB is not currently in Florida, to prevent the invasion of emerald ash borers don’t move firewood.
So what can you do?
What can you do to protect Florida’s natural environment from invasive species? Don’t Pack a Pest if you are traveling please declare all agricultural items. Pests travel in all shapes and sizes, by declaring your agricultural commodities you are protecting Florida’s agriculture. Don’t move firewood. Always buy local firewood and buy it where you burn it. Lastly, be aware! If you spot something suspicious such as a giant African land snail, call our helpline at 1-888-397-1517 or email us at DPIHelpline@FreshFromFlorida.com.
February 19, 2016
Oriental Fruit Flies Are Gone
What started out as a state of emergency has now ended with the February 13th lifting of the Oriental fruit fly quarantine in the Redland area of Miami-Dade County . This dangerous pest threatened Miami-Dade’s 1.6 Billion agricultural industry.
“The entire Miami-Dade community stepped up to the plate to help eradicate this pest. Everyone affected by this threat rolled up their sleeves and pitched in to defend not only Miami-Dade County’s $1.6 billion agriculture industry, but also Florida’s more than $120 billion agriculture industry,” Adam Putnam Commissioner of Agriculture.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and the USDA will continue to monitor the 56,000 fruit-fly traps state wide to prevent future infestations.
Citrus Greening means less green for Florida
“…Florida is facing the prospect of losing its signature crop and its more than $10 billion economic impact.”said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. Citrus Greening is to blame.
Since citrus greening was first detected in 2005, Florida has lost $7.8 billion in revenue. With a new proposal by Commissioner Putnam, he would implement a cost sharing program with farmers. This would allow the removal or destruction of abandoned citrus groves that still harbors citrus greening. This proposal is still in the legislative process.
Miami Boat Show
There was a great turn out this past weekend at the Miami Boat Show. The Florida Department of Agriculture was there to stress the importance of Don’t Pack a Pest.
The Don’t Pack a Pest program is administered by FDACS in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The program’s goal is to make international travelers — including boaters — aware of the dangers of bringing undeclared agricultural products into the United States. Visit DontPackaPest.com for more information.
Woman of the Year
Congratulations to Lisa Hinton for being awarded the 2015 Woman of the Year in Agriculture at the Florida State Fair.
All in a hard days work
- Gary Webb, Plant Inspector, Dade City, had a busy week reaching out to the public. He participated in a Nature Coast Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area exotic plant cleanup. He assisted in pulling and treating coral ardesia and some other invasive plants in an effort to keep our state parks clean and exotic plant free. On Monday, he inspected plants at the Pasco County Fair for the Youth Plant Show and Auction. This event taught students about the importance of agricultural. Some pests were even found, and they were used as an additional learning tool for students.
- Gary Van Cleef, a Division of Plant Industry Supervisor in the apiary section, learned more than instruction and presentation techniques from a supervisor training course. He also learned how to fight a wildfire – and last week he put that knowledge to work. He was able to quickly respond to a fire he encountered on his way home from work. Way to go, Gary.
Don’t forget growers, beekeepers & stakeholders complete the FDACS Pesticide-Pollinator Awareness Survey!
ATTENTION: beekeepers, growers/landowners and pesticide users
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has developed a Managed Pollinator Protection Plan (MP3), whose purpose is to establish a systematic and comprehensive approach to mitigate the risks of pesticides to bees and other pollinators while supporting both crop protection and insect pollination. Most importantly, this MP3 is developed through open communication and coordination among key stakeholders; beekeepers, growers/landowners, and pesticide users.
We now invite you to participate in a state-wide pesticide-pollinator awareness survey that aims to collect important background information about the current state of knowledge, common practices, concerns, and other relevant information about pesticides and pollinators in Florida, directly from its stakeholders.
The information obtained with this survey will be used to measure the success of the Managed Pollinator Protection Plan over time and will help tailor our outreach efforts.
This survey is completely anonymous, and no one, not even FDACS, will be able to associate you or your company with any of the responses.
Completing this survey will take approximately 10-15 minutes.
Please choose and only complete the survey that most closely reflects your role in Florida Agriculture.
Grower Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PPPgrower
Applicator Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PPPapplicator
Beekeeper Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PPPbeekeeper
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.
Thank you for your time.
Pollinator Protection Specialist
Division of Agricultural Environmental Services
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
(850) 459-5714 mobile
(386) 418-5515 office
Greetings Colleagues and Stakeholders – Please help FDACS distribute this important pollinator–pesticide awareness survey to your contact lists. We appreciate your continued support and promotion. Use of social media is encouraged!
November 20, 2015
Planning holiday travel? Manage your risks.
First of all, Commissioner Putnam is reminding motorists of the continuing danger from skimmers at gas pumps. Skimmers are illegal devices placed in gas pumps by criminals bent on stealing customers’ card information and
pin numbers. The number of consumers victimized by each skimmer varies between 100 and 5,000, with an average of $1,000 stolen from each victim. Best bet is to pay inside — especially if you are using a credit or debit card – or pay with cash. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services continues to inspect pumps across the state as part of its mission to protect consumers. It is the state’s clearinghouse for consumer complaints, protection and information. Consumers who believe fraud has taken place can call the consumer protection and information hotline at 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352). Click here to learn more about the resources available from FDACS.
Don’t Pack a Pest
Our “Don’t Pack a Pest” program continually reminds travelers to declare agricultural items in luggage when they travel internationally. It’s easy to do your part to exclude invasive pests and diseases: As you pack, check www.dontpackapest.com on your laptop or mobile device to learn what you can pack. And also remember, in Florida and elsewhere, Don’t Move Firewood! Buy it where you use it to avoid moving invasive pests and diseases.
Just five bucks a head buys your Thanksgiving feast
As you plan your feast, remember State Chef Justin Timineri has posted a wealth of Fresh From Florida recipes at www.FreshFromFlorida.com.
And what is the family feast going to cost? Americans can put a traditional Thanksgiving meal for 10 on the table for about $50, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 30th annual price survey. Farm Bureau says this year’s tab for a home-cooked feast for ten is up 70 cents from last year’s average. John Anderson, an economist for AFBF, said turkeys are selling for about $1.44 per pound, up about 9 cents. “Turkey production is down this year but not dramatically. Our survey shows a modest increase in turkey prices compared to last year. But we’re now starting to see retailers feature turkeys aggressively for the holiday,” he said. (Here in Florida, we are noticing some grocery chains are offering whole turkeys for as little as $5 with purchases of other items.)
Info-bites we came across and shared this week:
- How old is beekeeping? Bee Culture magazine says British researchers have found evidence of farmers in what is now Turkey using beeswax as far back as 7000 BC. “Now we know that beeswax was used continuously from the seventh millennium BCE, probably as an integral part in different tools, in rituals, cosmetics, medicine, as a fuel or to make receptacles waterproof,” said researcher Alfonso Alday. Read the full article here.
- The folks at “Save Our Citrus” have invited us to join their awareness campaign, so we’ve been posting some reasons we are thankful for citrus. With the beginning of the citrus harvest season, you’re invited to use the hash tag #thankful4citrus to share your videos/photos/posts.
Have a safe and happy holiday, everyone.
Commissioner Putnam Announces Florida to Receive $7.3 Million to Combat Agricultural Pests, Diseases
March 20, 2015
Funding Will Help Protect State’s $120 Billion Agriculture Industry from Invasive Species
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services today announced the state will receive $7.3 million in federal funding through the federal Farm Bill to help eradicate pests and control diseases that affect the state’s $120 billion agriculture industry.
“From citrus greening to giant African land snails and many others, pests and diseases are major threats to Florida agriculture,” said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “This funding will help prevent the spread of pests and diseases throughout the state and help keep Florida’s $120 billion agriculture industry going strong.”
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) yesterday released the spending plan for the pest and disease control section of the Farm Bill. The purpose of the APHIS funding is to prevent the introduction and spread of plant pests and diseases that threaten the U.S. agriculture and environment. This funding will strengthen pest surveillance, detection and identification and help mitigate these threats.
The state programs that will be funded include:
- Giant African land snail mitigation.
- Detector dog inspections.
- Enhanced pest detection at high-risk domestic interdiction sites and marina/canal systems.
- Collaborative educational and regulatory activities between the Florida, California and Hawaii agriculture departments of agriculture.
- Research and development for citrus health, including producing clean germplasm.
- Mitigation of a variety of pests, including the Asian giant hornet, invasive snails and slugs, exotic whiteflies, brown marmorated stink bug and cactus moths.
January 13, 2015
This news release was issued January 12, 2015
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam called for increased funding to fight citrus greening, which is threatening to decimate Florida’s famed citrus crop. The U.S. Department of Agriculture revised its estimate today for the 2014-15 harvest season to 103 million boxes of oranges, a decline from the forecast released in 2014.
“Now is the time to put all the resources we can toward fighting citrus greening,” said Commissioner Putnam. “We must do what we can to save Florida’s signature crop, an industry that generates $9 billion in annual economic impact and supports 76,000 jobs for Floridians.”
The USDA announcement at noon today estimates 103 million boxes of oranges will be harvested this season, down from the forecast of 108 million boxes announced in 2014 and also a decline from the 104 million boxes produced in 2014, the lowest on record. This represents a total decline of 60 percent since the peak of citrus production at 254 million boxes in 1997-98.
“State and federal governments, along with Florida’s citrus growers, have dedicated more than $230 million to support research over the past decade, and there are some promising leads,” Commissioner Putnam said. “I’ve requested an additional $18 million from the state this year to continue in-depth research, grow clean citrus stock, and replant where diseased trees have been removed.”
December 21, 2014
The holidays are almost here, and we’re sending good wishes . . . and this summary of DPI’s social media activity this week
They’re still here!
We are reminding South Florida residents to continue to watch for giant African land snails. Here’s a shot of one of two billboards in a heavily infested core, on N.W. Second Avenue near 54th Street in Miami. Digital billboards stand out – especially at night.
Snail by the numbers
If you are following our efforts to eradicate the giant African land snail from South Florida, we provided an updated “By the Numbers” index. We are gaining on the snails, but still need the help of an aware and engaged public.
Dog Tags for Orange Trees
We marked Throwback Thursday with this vintage cartoon from the 1960s, recognizing the success of Florida’s citrus budwood program, which began in 1953 and continues to provide certified disease-free stock to the industry today. Earlier this year, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam opened the Florida Citrus Repository at LaCrosse, where new plants are raised under quarantine until they are deemed safe to release to growers. Our blog entry has more.
Support our citrus industry: Follow rules when shipping dooryard citrus
We are continuing to remind folks who want to share dooryard citrus with friends and family during the holidays of restrictions USDA and FDACS have placed on out-of-state shipping of fruit. Such fruit must first pass through a commercial packinghouse, and we have provided a list of facilities willing to process home-grown fruit. Learn more:
Urgent message to growers
As Florida’s winter vegetable season moves into full production, we passed along an urgent warning to growers from Dade County Agricultural Manager Charles LaPradd. He said there have been instances where diseases spread by insects and other pests have moved among neighboring farms. LaPradd stressed that good agricultural practices require crops and plants be promptly destroyed at the end of the harvest to avoid crating breeding grounds for pests.