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!
December 4, 2015
Update on social media posts and re-posts by FDACS-DPI this week.
Travel tips abound
As the holiday travel season ramps up, we’re continuing to remind international travelers to declare agricultural items in luggage, and we’re pleased our messages are getting retweets, likes and shares. Check www.dontpackapest.com and exclude forbidden items. The website is mobile device-friendly and easy to navigate – a helpful tool for travelers.
We’re also working, along with the national Don’t Move Firewood campaign, to remind RV-ers and campers to buy and burn firewood at their destinations. Moving firewood can also move invasive pests, causing serious threats to agriculture, landscapes, structures and human health. Learn more about one invasive pest in particular that threatens Florida’s avocado crop on our “Save the Guac” page, here.
GALS By the Numbers
This week we published updated numbers related to the giant African land snail eradication efforts in South Florida. Thusfar, FDACS teams have collected more than 159,387 of the snails in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Surveys continue statewide. The snail has not been found anywhere else in Florida — although we encourage all Florida residents to “Watch for it. Report it,” using the toll-free Helpline, 888-397-1517. Learn more about the program here.
Fuchs Inauguration Week
The University of Florida has been celebrating President Ken Fuchs’s inauguration this week, and photos make it clear he is president of a land grant university. This photo was posted by UF-IFAS Vice President Jack Payne, whom we enjoy following on Twitter.
A 64-year-old albatross?
Apropos of nothing related to the Division of Plant Industry’s mission, but just doggone interesting, is the news from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about the world’s oldest banded bird. She’s Wisdom, a 64-year old Laysan albatross. Each year, she returns to nest on Midway Atoll National Wildlife refuge . . . and she’s apparently not ready to retire from nesting. USFWS reports she has laid an egg. More here.
March 12, 2015
The Don’t Pack a Pest travelers program team is in Jamaica this week working with a survey team to examine the program’s reach among travelers. The program works to encourage travelers to declare agricultural items in luggage to avoid transporting invasive pests. Travelers can check the website http://dontpackapest.com to find out what items are allowed to be transported in baggage.