February 17, 2017
While thousands of people roam about the Florida State Fair in search of a new fried food or even their next favorite ride, many are learning new information about their state. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry (DPI) is center stage in the Agricultural Hall of Fame at the 2017 Florida State Fair, exhibiting an array of fascinating information. DPI has so much to share with the community, including the history of the department, the statewide inspection conducted to detect new pests and diseases, the biological methods used to protect Florida’s agriculture against invasive species, the importance of pollinators and more.
Insect Encounter and More exhibit Includes:
- The Bureau of Plant and Apiary Inspection brought with them two hives of live bees for the public to observe. Florida honey bees are an important part of the agricultural process. “Without honey bees to pollinate, approximately 1/3 of the food we eat every day would disappear.” This display will also teach you what to do when you encounter a swarm of aggressive bees and how to protect yourself. But back to the nice bees, if you would like to learn more about the beekeeping process, an apiary inspector will be on site to answer your questions.
- The Bureau of Methods Development and Biological Control brought along one of its
most requested insects, the air potato beetle (Lilioceris cheni)! The air potato beetles were introduced into Florida after their host plant, the air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera) rapidly started growing. This vine can shield sunlight from surrounding plants causing problems if left untreated. You can request air potato beetles for your area by filling out the form.Another important insect for a very different reason is the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP). This psyllid is known for carrying huanglongbing, also known as citrus greening disease. The bureau of methods is rearing a parasitic wasp Tamarixia radiata that attacks the Asian citrus psyllid. Hundreds of thousands are released in citrus producing areas of the state to help reduce the number of ACPs. The bureau also has developed traps to capture and identify the source of the problem. Learn more about the DPI’s beneficial insect programs at the fair where FDACS employees will answer your questions.
- The Bureau of Entomology, Nematology and Plant Pathology developed the Insect Encounters display. Preserved insects have been on display at the Florida State Fair since 1904, and DPI’s Insect Encounters is always a major draw. The bureau brought along an array of living insects including slender brown scorpions, bess beetles, a Mexican red knee tarantula, butterflies, and more. Trays of preserved specimens from the Florida State Collection of Arthropods Museum Gainesville are also on display. The museum hosts over 10 million specimens to assist with identification requests by the public and for scientist around the world. If you have an insect you would like to have identified, please call 1-888-397-1517 or visit FreshFromFlorida.com to learn how to prepare and submit the sample.
- Botany’s exhibit hosts an interactive display where you can flip through various noxious weeds and their biological control. Much like our entomology department, our botany team can assist the public with the identification of plants. If you would like to have a plant identified, please view the same submission videos for more information.
- Citrus Health Response Program– “The goal of the Citrus Health Response Program (CHRP) is to sustain the United States’ citrus industry, to maintain grower’s continued access to export markets, and to safeguard the other citrus growing states against a variety of citrus diseases and pests. This is a collaborative effort involving growers, federal and state regulatory personnel and researchers.” Florida’s citrus industry is a top priority! Learn about the CHRP program and the services it provides.
- Learn about the importance of declaring imported commodities and about the phytosanitary certificates needed to move plants in and out of the state at the Plant Inspection table. Without the declaration of imported goods, many invasive species can enter the state. Examples include giant African land snails, Asian citrus psyllid, and various exotic and economically significant fruit flies. These invasive pests can negatively impact Florida’s important agriculture and can cost the state millions of dollars in eradication efforts. Plant inspectors place an array of traps throughout the state for early detection of invasive pests, These traps have names including: McPhail, multi-Lure, boll weevil, purple prism, tri-color or bucket, black Lindgren funnel, orange paper delta, white plastic delta, green Lindgren funnel, and the Jackson trap. Learn what each trap is used for while they’re on display!
- The Don’t Pack a Pest campaign reminds travelers the importance of declaring agricultural items. This international campaign encourages travelers to check the online website DontPackaPest.com before they arrive at their ports of departure. Knowing if you can or can’t bring back a particular agricultural item will make the traveling experience smoother and quicker. The program is a partner with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, The United States Department of Agriculture, United States Customs and Border Protection, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Learn more at DontPackaPest.com.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry’s exhibit is just a small sample of what the Florida State Fair has to offer in terms of education. Make sure to stop by the FDACS-DPI exhibit and bring the kids! Kids can enjoy the exhibits, stickers, coloring books, temporary tattoos, as well as live insects! Enjoy the fair through February 20th!
November 30, 2016
Warner Brothers just released their brand new movie from the Harry Potter franchise “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” a wonderful movie set in 1926 New York City where a foreign traveler Newt Scamander a magizoologist (a person who studies magical creatures) is writing a manuscript in the hopes of helping non-maj (muggles) understand these fantastic beasts. During his trip to New York he packs a suitcase with various creatures including a thunderbird which Newt hopes to release back to his home in Arizona. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. During his visit, things go crazy and some creatures escape!
Why does this sound familiar?
Because every day people travel all over the world with their suitcase filled to the brim with foreign entities. Sometimes it’s medicine, plants, animals, insects, food, or a commodity they brought back as a souvenir. All of these items have the potential to be dangerous to our native species agriculture and enviornment. Much like the movie, once a fantastic beast escapes, chaos can quickly follow. Non-native species don’t have natural enemies and thus, can quickly populate and destroy valuable natural resources.
The pests that arrive in Florida (giant African land snails, whiteflies, Asian citrus psyllid, etc.), can cause a great deal of trouble. While we can’t “reparo” the situation as quickly as wizards can, biocontrol agents are set in place to mitigate the problem at hand. Phorid flies parasitize imported fire ant populations, Lilioceris cheni beetles eat air potato vines, Tamarixia radiata help control the Asian citrus psyllid (the vector for citrus greening disease), and the list of beneficial natural enemies goes on.
What we do know is the importance of declaring agricultural items when coming through customs.
While J.K. Rowling is right, the transportation of creatures without a permit is illegal, she was wrong about customs. U.S. Customs and Border Control officers and their canine partners are vigilant and will attempt to catch whatever you bring in. “…undeclared prohibited agriculture items will be confiscated and can result in the issuance of a civil penalty to the traveler for failure to declare the prohibited item.”So stop while you’re ahead. Don’t be a Newt Scamander and remember Don’t Pack a Pest!
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!
February 17, 2016
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services had a strong presence at the Miami Boat Show over the President’s Day weekend, stressing the message, “Don’t Pack a Pest” and urging people to watch for and report the giant African land snail.
“We had many people visit our kiosk in the Central Courtyard to view our outreach materials and take home a message of Don’t Pack a Pest,” said Dr. Gordon Bonn, Supervisor of the Marinas and Canals program, Division of Plant Industry.
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 agricultural products into the United States.
The giant African land snail has been the subject of an eradication program in South Florida that began in August 2011. The snail is known to consumer more than 250 kinds of crops, poses a danger to human and animal health and can damage structures.
As a regulatory agency of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Division of Plant Industry works to detect, intercept and control plant and honey bee pests that threaten Florida’s native and commercially grown plants and agricultural resources.
January 26, 2016
Survey supports exending Don’t Pack a Pest to Caribbean
Shortly after the inception of the Don’t Pack a Pest program in 2011, the program directors set a goal of inviting Caribbean countries to participate. Now, five years later, seven island nations are partnering in the program. They are Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and The Turks and Caicos Islands, the latest to join, in December 2015.
International airports in each of those nations remind travelers to declare agricultural products in luggage. Signs are up at 50 major ports of entry in Florida and the Caribbean and the program video is playing in 20 of the busiest airports in the United States and at cruise terminals in Florida and elsewhere.
A recent study by the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education at the University of Florida supports the wisdom of extending the program into the Caribbean. In response to the survey, more than half of American travelers – 54 percent — said they had been to the Caribbean in the past three years. Top destinations were the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and Jamaica. Residents’ preferences were evenly split between airplanes and cruise ships.
PIE Center researchers distributed an online survey to travelers nationwide who were planning to or had traveled to the Caribbean to gauge the public perceptions of the Travelers Don’t Pack a Pest program. More than 1,000 U.S. residents age 18 years and older completed the survey.
Read a summary of the survey here: http://www.piecenter.com/2016/01/14/study-travelers-careful-with-caribbean-destinations/
December 21, 2015
The Turks and Caicos Islands joined the “Don’t Pack a Pest” partnership last week. The campaign was launched in 2011. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services developed it, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection.
Its goal is to increase travelers’ awareness of the importance of declaring agricultural products brought into the United States. Products that should be declared include fresh fruits, vegetables, cut flowers, plant material, animal products and firewood, among others.
Because of its climate, geography and crop diversity, combined with the multiple international air and marine ports throughout the state, Florida faces a high risk for the introduction of pests and diseases. At least one pest or disease is introduced into Florida every month, including pests that are new to Florida, new to the continent or new to the hemisphere.
“Invasive pests, some of which enter the state through Florida’s international air and seaports, have the potential to devastate Florida’s more than $120 billion agriculture industry,” said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “Keeping these pests outside our borders is the most effective way to protect our state from threats, and this campaign helps us do that.”
Videos featuring the “Don’t Pack a Pest” program’s simple message, “When You Travel, Declare Agriculture Items, Don’t Pack a Pest,” can be seen in 20 of the busiest airports throughout the U.S., where an estimated 85 percent of international travelers are processed. Signage is also placed throughout Florida’s major ports of entry and in six Caribbean locations where partnerships have been implemented. Nations partnering in the program include Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands — and as of last week, Turks and Caicos Islands. More than 680 program signs are displayed at 52 ports of entry. Other elements of the campaign include a website that assists travelers in determining which agricultural products are allowed or prohibited entry in to the U.S., digital and print advertising, billboards and social media.
For more information about the “Don’t Pack a Pest” campaign, please visit dontpackapest.com.
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.